Monday, April 4, 2011

Taking One for the Team

Padawan and I have had to make a major change in our living habits. Well, I say Padawan and I, but I had to change it. I didn't ask him. I told him that this change was happening, and then I told him why. The change may seem insignificant to you guys, but it's major to me.

From now on, Padawan will be responsible for cooking dinner while I wash the dishes.

Clearly this is huge. I despise abhor detest hate with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns washing dishes. There are few mundane chores out there that disgust me as easily as doing dishes. Just the idea of putting my hands in a sink full of nasty, used dishes makes me dry heave. I do not like it. 

However, warring with my repulsion is my obsessive compulsive desire to have the sink empty and the kitchen looking tidy at all times. This OCD has become marginally worse since our move because when we walk into our front door we are standing in the kitchen. It's the first thing I see when I come home.

And Padawan is lazy about dishes. He has promised and promised so many times that he will do them right after dinner, but he rarely does. He will let the dishes pile up for days, and only after I nag him (or scream) will he finally get up and take care of it. I have always refused to do them on principle. It is not fair if I have to cook and wash dishes. It's only fair that he do  his fair share.

One day I came home from work and noticed a foul stench in the kitchen and I asked him to take care of it. He said, "In a minute!" and the next morning when I woke up, on my day off, the dishes were still piled up and he had done nothing. The smell was so bad I had to pull on my rubber gloves and take care of it myself.

Know what the smell was coming from?

Padawan had scraped large chunks of lettuce off of a plate and put them in the sink. He hadn't bothered rinsing them down the garbage disposal. Just left them on the stainless steel bottom, then piled dishes on top of them. What I had been smelling was the salmonella infected, rotting stench of decomposing romaine. It was fucking disgusting and I threw up.

For the last week, Padawan has been slacking on the dishes, and yesterday when I woke up and took Choo Choo out for walkies, I came back in to a smell so foul I knew I'd have to take care of it myself. He said, "Don't worry about it, I'll do it when I come home." But he never does anything when he comes home. He likes to go straight to bed for a nap. And I get that. He gets up at four thirty in the morning. He's tired when he gets home. It's understandable.

While I was doing the dishes, frustration seeped in until I found myself practicing the blistering lecture I planned to give Padawan when he came home regarding his lazy, nasty habit. After all, our agreement was he would wash the dishes and I would do the cooking. But spending my day off plowing through a weeks worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes was not desirable.

I knew halfway through that the only solution was to do the dishes myself every day. I'd have to do them every night, I knew, but I also knew that I wouldn't have to worry about dishes piling up for a week so that we ran out of plates and silverware, and I wouldn't have to worry about a bad smell anymore. In exchange, Padawan would have to take over making dinner. He can read and follow directions. 

For the greater good, and my personal happiness and sanity, I knew I needed to take one for the team.

I still felt frustrated by the time I finished the dishes, so I cleaned the entire kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, and the closet. I also did all of the laundry, and by the time I was finished I was ready to talk to Padawan.

I signed on Google chat and IMed him, informing him of my decision.

And before he could argue (I wasn't giving him the chance) I explained that it made more sense for him to cook because I don't get off until seven and he gets off at three, so he could make dinner before I got off so we could eat when I got home. It would save us from having to either eat really late because cooking takes time or having to eat fast food for the convenience. 

" hate doing dishes."

"I know. But between eating late and your laziness, it's obviously the only way."

Then I told him he would make a point of rinsing out his lunch dishes before bringing them home because leaving bits of food in them and then sealing them and leaving them at room temperature for a few hours, or in the car floor for a couple of weeks, was disgusting and unfair to make me clean them in that condition.

So now I am calm. When I went to bed last night there were absolutely no dishes left in my sink. My kitchen was pristine.

And I feel relieved. I will never again have to worry about bad smells and dirty dishes and having no clean dishes when I come home, because I can trust myself to keep it in perfect order. All I have to worry about now is whether or not Padawan will burn the apartment down while trying to make Croque Monsieur. 


  1. I hate dishes too, not just because it's gross, but also because they're NEVER DONE! I can spend 2 hours cleaning my kitchen and then 5 minutes later turn around and find a new pile of dirty dishes. It's exasperating!

    However, my own personal issues aside, I'm glad you've figured out a solution to your problem. Sometimes the only way to get things done the way you want them done is to do it yourself.

    Anyway, I'm sure Padawan is perfectly competent and will be able to cook without burning anything down. Good luck to both of you! I'm sure everything will work out just fine. :)

  2. Yeah, dishes are always coming. If everybody would just rinse their dishes and put them neatly in the dishwasher it would be easier. I tried that with Padawan, too. He can't load a dishwasher to save his life. I've showed him A MILLION TIMES how to do it and he always does it WRONG. Dishes would be fabulous if they were self cleaning. Where's Rosie the Robot when you need her?

    That's the truth. But life would be so much easier if you could depend on the man in your life to keep his promises.

    Padawan is really good with the microwave. And he can boil pasta. I'm sure this will be an interesting learning experience for him. Either he'll give up and beg to switch back with a new dedication to dishes, or he'll learn.

  3. Hey, if Padawan needs some ideas for simple, quick dinners, just let me know. As a full-time college student with a husband that's a full-time college student, and being the mother of 2 kids...I've kind of become an expert at quick, easy cooking. I've got your back. :)

    I'm OCD about how the dishwasher is loaded too. However, after 10 years, I've softened enough to just let it go when Tyler does it wrong. I figure the dishes will get just as clean either way, and I can rearrange them when it's necessary. It's hard to let things like that go, but sometimes for the sake of my sanity, it just has to happen.

  4. I will let him know that you are a wealth of knowledge. We'll probably need you. I'm predicting macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight.

    There are ways you can load a dishwasher that lead to improper dish washing. For instance, when Padawan sticks my giant mixing bowl on the bottom so that it covers where the water comes out, the water does not spread to the other dishes and instead ricochets back to the bottom. Yucky yucky. And you'd think that they'd learn after you showed them several times. It's like they like being nagged...

  5. Ugghhh, I hate those smells coming from a sink of dirty dishes too. Rotting pasta really makes me sick.

  6. Who doesn't hate those smells? Except Padawan, obviously. He has a poor sense of smell and doesn't smell anything unless he sticks his face right over it.

    ALWAYS do your dishes!

  7. Old discarded salad with thousand island makes for a nice wake up call in the morning. The best though is when your disposal backs up into the sink and punches you right in the a tub full of sunbaked onions basted with Limburger Cheese. Doug knows what I am talking about!

  8. That is disgusting. Why on earth would you let your disposal back up? Put stuff in it, turn on the water, flip the switch. Sanitize with disinfectant after use. Why would you let stuff sit? Could someone explain the reasoning to me?

  9. The battery charger is a nice touch.

  10. I guess after being married for almost 25 years, helping out with the dishes is just a normal thing for me. I'm only really home on weekends so that's the only chance I have to help out. My dinner dishes, if I take any to work, go by the sink and they are usually done by the time I get up in the morning. There are weeks when I've taken the same Tupperware tub for dinner every day of the week. Since my first bout with food poisoning, I've been much better about keeping the dishes clean. Even though it wasn't the fault of dirty dishes, I don't ever want to go through that again.

  11. I do think that your different preferences and time schedules make the you cook--I clean operation perfect. Let us know how it goes!

  12. Some people are scared of the disposal. They don't like to turn it on. They wait for their spouses to do it, even though I'm in the other room and didn't hear anyone ask me to do it.

  13. For what it's worth: I do all the cooking in our house. Kelly does the dishes, and then our kids put them away when the dishwasher is done.

    I HATE doing dishes.

  14. Absolutely. The reason, you see, is that most men and those with a glittery pixie like gleam tend to avoid dishes, further complicating things by not following the simple process of A into B into C and so on.

    My reasoning goes something like this.

    See's dishes in sink.
    Look's around for sponge and soap to possibly do a nice thing and clean them.
    Cannot locate said items due to wife being anal about placement of things.
    huffs and puffs to himself, looking for an alternative.
    cleans any food from plates with utensil and crams down hole in sink.
    turns on facet and disposal.
    thinks if its too early or late to have a beer.
    turns off facet and disposal.
    notices water has begun to back up into sink with chunks of lettuce and other things not blended properly.
    Looks to see if anyone noticed his actions.
    flees the scene.

    It's instinctual I guess. Sanitizing after every use is a bit overkill to me and explains why we are having more and more super bugs with all this sanitation about. Once a week, depending on how much home cooked food is prepped, should suffice for anyone, even those with OCD.

  15. Luke, it took me a few moments to figure out what you meant by the battery charger. Then I realized you meant the one in the picture. Yes, Padawan and I have rechargeable batteries. We have a PS3 and X-Box 360. Controllers take batteries. We save money that way.

    Darev, it's nice that you help out with the dishes when you can. You and your wife obviously have a routine that is comfortable for both of you. Here's the important question: do you ever cook for her?

    Nicki, the first night of said operation we went out to dinner so he didn't have to cook. Last night we had pizza rolls. Tonight we had some chicken stuff he bought at Target and Mac and cheese. But the kitchen looks great!

    Doug, nobody likes to turn on the disposal. If your wife is afraid of it, there's good reason. I personally have a horrific vision of the blades launching up and into my face, or of the disposal exploding and destroying me with shrapnel. It's a common fear. You should always stand by while your wife does dishes because you know she's going to need you.

    Matthew, dishes are horrible and they should find a way to make dishes do themselves. So you're saying you never do dishes, though. Even if your wife is sick? It's really not so bad when you just have to rinse them and stick them in the dishwasher. (Clearly I'm lying. It's just as gross. Other people's germs are on those plates and forks.)

    Scott, that is not a problem for us. We do not uses sponges. They are unsanitary even when cleaned often and wrung out and rinsed properly. We have a nylon scrubbing brush that is bacteria resistant which is always in it's designated holder on the sink, right next to the soap. You can see the soap in the picture of our kitchen, but the iHome blocks the view of the scrubber. And our sink is sanitized so often for a reason: we rinse off our raw chicken before cooking it. Raw chicken juices land in the sink with bacteria. Bacteria multiplies and spreads over surfaces which could infect the entire kitchen. It's best to nip the problem in the bud and not worry about it later. Almost every meal I prepare in the kitchen calls for chicken.

    I don't use hand sanitizers or anything like that. Unless I handle money. Cash gives me the creeps.

  16. I use rechargeable batteries too. :) I was just sayin... its how us nerds decorate. lol

  17. Yes I do cook on occasion. There's only a few things I'm good at, like french toast. I make awesome french toast. I'm no chef, but she never complains when i cook.

  18. Luke, good for you! And yes...yes, it is.

    Darev, yay! French toast is AWESOME, just so you know. Little cinnamon, some powdered sugar, bit of butter...yummy! (Or add syrup if you like it. Some of us don't like syrup.)


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