My daughter and her family stayed with us for a month waiting for their household stuff to reach Ireland. It was great fun and everybody pitched in so the group wouldn’t be buried under wet towels and dirty dishes.
I appreciated everyone’s efforts because, sadly, I am not an easy person to help. “You have a lot of rules,” my daughter offered.
I do. I know that. Not rules, exactly, but there are ways I prefer to have things done, ways I want things organized.
You’ve all heard the adage about having too many cooks in the kitchen. This is not an issue for me. I’ll let anybody cook for me any time. Haul out the pots and pans, fire up the stove, mix and measure to your heart’s content, but when it comes time to clean up, I get twitchy.
Both of my daughters put everything in the dishwasher – plastic cups, steak knives, the pot from their coffeemaker. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I can’t bring myself to do that. After a meal, there are things that go in the dishwasher and things that I hand wash. Sometimes the hand wash items outweigh the dishwasher crowd. It makes for more work, but it’s worth it. The soup kettle I got as a shower present 40 years ago is still in play, the handles on my steak knives are not bleached out, and my plastic cups are not pitted or warped. All this extra effort is just part of my routine, but when I impose this system on an outsider who has kindly offered to help wash up, I feel like an ungrateful lout.
It’s the same with the laundry. I hang dry 90 percent of my clothes, because then my slacks do not shrink, my T-shirts do not fade, and my unmentionables do not wind up as a giant stretched-out wad of Lycra. I fold the bath towels in thirds lengthwise, then in half and half again because it makes them unfurl properly when thrown over the shower door. Again, it’s a nifty system if I’m the one doing the laundry, but an obsessive imposition for a helper bee.
In the dishwasher, I position the short glasses closest to the sink and the tall glasses on the far side because it eliminates the reach when you add things later on. I put the knives together and the spoons together because, well, why wouldn’t you? During the unloading process, knives go with knives and spoons go with spoons in the silverware drawer. Why make it harder than it has to be later on?
I know, I know, I need to loosen up a bit, and I try. I do. Sometimes, after a particularly big meal, I even call in my husband, Harold, to work his clean up magic. I call him the Dishwasher Whisperer because, motivated by a strong distaste for hand washing, he has developed the ability to squeeze a table’s worth of dishes into a single load. There’s no real planning, just a can-do MacGyver approach, but it works. I applaud the man’s finesse, but I do it from the other room because I cannot bring myself to watch.
It’s possible that I overthink things. (Ya think????) I could go in for dishwasher desensitization therapy, some lessons in laundry live-and-let-live, but they’d probably have to sedate me, and who has time for that? Instead, I content myself with the thought that I will embrace new methods when they prove to work better…which, so far, they haven’t.
Sorry, my darlings. I’m a difficult person to help.