As you’re all aware, I’ve been out of commission for the last few months. Many things have factored into this involuntary time-out, but the fallout, in general, has been my inability to do, well, anything. OK, most things. But in my head, it’s everything.
My husband, surprisingly, has taken the domestic reins in both hands and yelled “Giddy up!” so often that I have now concluded he’s a frustrated housewife who’s been pretending over the years to be a lazy, disinterested lump of flesh upon the couch, under the afghan, with a full-sized iced tea and extra-large bag of Middleswarth by his side. It turns out, readers, Nancy is a house frau in old-man, high-waisted, generic jeans.
However, in the words Mary Shelley may have uttered as she typed Frankenstein-esque quotes: “I think I’ve created a monster.” Hers was just on paper. Mine is in the kitchen.
He has suddenly decided I’ve been loading the dishwasher incorrectly for the last 35 years. I am dead serious. I don’t know how he thinks the dishes have been getting squeaky clean all this time without his professional, Jenga-like shelving infrastructure. It’s true, I’m a lazy stacker. Also true, if I fling a spatula in there and it happens to land in the “correct” spot, it’s inconsequential. It still gets clean. I’m a flinger. I fling books. I fling mail. I fling insults. I fling cutlery. I fling. It just doesn’t matter. It gets clean.
I see him approaching and I cringe. Here it comes. He opens the dishwasher to gingerly place his favorite Raiders Football pilsner glass gently between the special rungs for such a rare gem. Eye roll.
“What the … ?!” he screeches. “Look at this mess! It’s an abomination! It’s a damned misappropriation of stackage!”
I stare. I blink. I stare. And I think: “This man has never used a multi-syllabic word with such enthusiasm in his entire life, except for “Stone Hedge Golf Course” or “Fox Hill.” I mean, I’m the Scrabble queen and the only reason I play with him is because I’m always guaranteed to win. What is happening? Who is this Maytag monster?
He is now doing that “thing” and when he does it, I imagine me hitting him over the head with a clean, heavy meat mallet that I put in the wrong dishwasher cubbyhole. He’s speaking to me like I’m the student and he’s the teacher. Nothing makes me clench my teeth together with more adrenaline and aggression.
“Maria,” he explains patiently, “how many times have we gone over this? This Tupperware cannot be put on the bottom rack. There is a place for them on the top, see? There are rules. There’s a technique. I don’t know why you don’t adhere to the rules.”
“Listen, you,” I explain, also patiently, “You know that I watch ‘Forensic Files’ every, single day of my life. Sometimes, all day, if I take to my bed with the poops. You know that I know how to perfectly dissect a body, fold it in half and fit it precisely into that dishwasher. No one will ever find you. Now shut your pie hole and leave me alone. I have laundry to do. And, by the way, why don’t you turn your dishwasher enthusiasm to the pile of dirty socks on the floor?”
He harrumphed and put a cheese grater in its rightful pocket, bottom right.
I had an elderly friend who once told me: “If your husband makes the bed, it’s never going to look right. Never. But don’t criticize him. Because if you do, that man will never make the bed again. Say thank you and move on. That’s a happy marriage.”
So, I told him: “I will try to load the stupid dishwasher in a more orderly fashion next time. And I truly appreciate your help.”
Him: “Can you move aside? I can’t see Phil! Go Phil!,” he shouted at the televised golf tournament. “Also, when that cycle is done, can you unload it? Make sure you unload the knives and forks first, then the cups. There’s a method to unloading …”
I’ve created a monster.
I pushed the extra long cycle. And I better call the Maytag repairman. I’ll need a new dishwasher. And this time, it’ll weigh an extra 165 pounds when he wheels it out. Thanks, Forensic Files.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at email@example.com.