A house divided
This impasse can’t continue. Both sides need to be open to moving off their hardened positions and try, for the good of all concerned, to find some modicum of common ground. A house divided against itself cannot stand. So said…my Aunt Toogie. What? You were expecting Lincoln?
Toogie had summoned me and my lovely wife, Grace, into the kitchen.
“Look at these dirty dishes,” she declared. “This kitchen is shut down! Who’s going to step up and fix this mess?”
“Not me,” I replied, “until Grace agrees on how to load…”
“Stop!” Toogie interrupted, holding up her palm.”
Looking to Grace she asked, “What do you think?”
“I’ll wash them by hand,” Grace answered, “but I won’t use the dishwasher until he…”
“Hold it right there!” Toogie interjected. “This debate has been brewing for months and we need to tone it down and work it out. Let’s get these darn dishes cleaned!”
The “debate” started, innocently, as some friendly advice on how to load and unload the dishwasher. At least that’s my view. Loading the dishwasher one day it dawned on me. If we loaded similar silverware into only one of the flatware compartments in the dishwasher, unloading would be a breeze. It would then be simple to grab a full compartment, say of spoons or forks, and just dump them in the silverware drawer. Inspirational genius, I’d say. Kind of like when Archimedes discovered buoyancy.
On the other hand, Grace says I’m all wet. She contends that the time spent sorting silverware into specific places going into the dishwasher is equivalent to the time supposedly saved taking it out.
I’ll admit I probably exacerbated the situation a few times. Loading the dishwasher, I’d say something such as, “Oh, here’s mister fork in mister spoon’s room. I’ll just move him into his proper place with his brother forks.” At this point, Grace just scoffed and suggested, in more colorful language, that I go soak my head in the bathtub. They probably scoffed at Archimedes, too.
From there, things got worse. When I’d offer to help clean the dishes, Grace would state, “Don’t touch the silverware. I’ll take care of it.” Whenever Grace would unload the dishwasher, I would opine how much sooner the task would have been completed if she did it the right way. The longer it went on the more we each dug in. Then I refused to help load silverware into the dishwasher unless we did it “my way.” Grace retaliated by allowing me to help with post-meal clean up only if I kept my hands off the silverware. Words like “obstructionist” and “stonewall” crept into the daily dialog. I reminded Grace of my executive experience. She reminded me that she ran the house. Eventually, we both stopped doing the dishes. Dirty dishes and flatware piled up like Friday evening traffic on 526. All of which brings us back to Toogie’s summit in the kitchen.
“Okay, kids,” Toogie began. “We need some Southern hospitality to fix this crisis in our Southern kitchen. We’re going to sit here until we reach a compromise.”
“Now,” she continued, “I’m not saying who is right about loading and unloading forks, but would it work if Dalton did all the clean up on days that have the letter ‘t’ in their name and Grace did the other days?” I started cyphering. Toogie said softly, “That’s three, Dalton.”
After a pause, I mused, “What happens if Grace has a dirty spoon, say from her yogurt, on one of my days? Where does she put it?”
“I’d be glad to put it in the dishwasher,” Grace offered.
“No!” I barked. “She might put it in the wrong compartment. That’s the point!”
“Then she can just put it in the sink,” Toogie suggested.
“I don’t want dirty dishes in the sink all day until he gets around to loading them,” Grace declared.
Toogie lowered her head and sighed, “I withdraw that idea. Maybe we can come up with a better compromise.”
“Maybe this isn’t just a dishwasher thing,” Toogie pondered, trying to get the conversation back on track. “Could it be a man-woman thing, too?”
“Well, a woman did invent the dishwasher,” Grace declared.
“Really?” I remarked. “I thought it was George Westinghouse or maybe a guy named Ken Moore.”
“Wanna bet?” Grace shot back.
“That’s it!” Toogie hollered. “We ask Siri who invented the dishwasher. If it is Dalton’s Mr. Westinghouse, or any other guy, we agree to load the silverware as he suggests. But, if it’s a woman, we keep doing it the way Grace says. Either way, we stop bickering about it. Deal?”
I looked intently at Grace, trying to gauge a sense of her commitment to this proposed approach. She smiled, said yes, and returned my gaze. I paused, nodded, and agreed to the deal. Toogie quickly turned and asked Alexa, “Who invented the dishwasher?”
It is now several weeks later. Grace and I are unloading the dishwasher. She is handling the cups and plates and I’m putting away the silverware. I have a jumble of forks, knives, and spoons in my hand. I’m putting them, one-by-one, in the proper space in the silverware drawer. I think, “Here’s mister fork. He goes in this spot with his brother folks. Now we have mister knife…” But I don’t say it out loud. Because of Josephine Cochrane. Who knew she invented the dishwasher? Good for her. Not so good for me, but Grace and I did resolve our dispute.
I wonder if Washington will come up with an idea that floats.