It’s the tedium of the whole thing, is what it is. That’s what makes it so unbearable. Day after day after stupid dumb day.
No. You know what? It’s the hopelessness. That’s it. That’s exactly it. The knowledge that no matter how much I do, there will always be more to do. More of the SAME to do. It will never end and someday they will find my body slumped over the sink, pruny hands still plunged deep into the dirty soapy water.
And even THEN, it’s likely no one in my family will notice and still put a dirty dish on the counter beside my rotting corpse, casually waving the flies away from their face as they skip gaily out of the kitchen.
I am living in a dystopian hellscape and it’s all because our dishwasher is broken.
It has been exactly 11 calendar days since The Great Breakening and chaos is quickly descending. Already there is a new currency in my household; paper plates and plastic cups are more valuable than gold. I’m spreading peanut butter and jelly with my bare hands and drinking wine out of a Dixie cup. Dinner last night was just soup cans with a hole drilled in the top. One of my kids asked for a spoon and I just laughed and laughed as I handed them a biodegradable straw and the instruction to “suck fast before it disintegrates.”
This morning I actually asked my husband, “honey, do you think I could cook a whole chicken on a pile of disposable napkins instead of a roasting pan?”
And still, despite my efforts, the dishes, they come. Plates, pots, pans, cutlery, colanders, cups. OH THE NEVERENDING DIRTY CUPS. Prior to this I was under the assumption there were only four of us living here but based on the number of cups I clean every day, I have a baker’s dozen or so of other children and an additional spouse or three that I forgot about.
You know, before this I had hopes. I had dreams. I had hands that weren’t wrinkled and withered like some sort of ancient cave dwelling swamp witch hag.
Now there is only me and the sponge and the tupperware permanently dyed orange from spaghetti no matter how much I scrub. Blobs of dried ketchup haunt my dreams. The sight of an abandoned spoon with half eaten peanut butter on it makes me burst into tears.
Sometimes, to pass the time when I’m standing at the sink AGAIN, I stare out the window into the middle distance (the most dramatic of the distances to stare) and imagine that I am some beautiful and tragic 1950s housewife who will never reach her potential. Or I’m an Irish immigrant from the early 1900s who came here for a better life, only to find more dishes. Or even a medieval scullery maid who was forced into indentured servitude but longs for freedom. Freedom from an existence that is solely populated by other people’s dirty dishes.
The thing is though, at least the 1950s housewife had a prescription for Valium that was washed down with a carton of cigarettes and the ability to kick her children outside for hours on end to help her cope. And in 1900, soda had cocaine in it. And medieval villagers got to start swilling mead at breakfast because the water would kill you.
See, that was their reward for doing dishes all day, every day. But now water is non-lethal, and our Coke is drugless, and cigarettes kill us, and apparently doctors these days don’t consider having a broken dishwasher a good enough reason to give me unlimited access to powerful pills. Not to mention, I can’t force my children to roam the streets until it gets dark, less because some nosy, terrible neighbor will call the cops on me for neglect than I am genuinely concerned my kids will actually do something illegal.
So I’m stuck with drinking my weak ass wine from my Dixie cup while I slowly turn into a grizzled and hardened dishwasher from some greasy spoon diner. Seriously, a few days ago my daughter told me the fork I gave her was still dirty. I grabbed it and spit on it before drying it on my sweatpants and handed it back with a glare that would make flowers wilt.
“Anything else look dirty to you?” I growled at her.
“No ma’am,” she whispered.
The good news is we should be getting a new dishwasher any day now. Once the plumber and the water heater guy figure out where that mystery water leak is coming from and how to stop it and if the entire kitchen wall needs to be torn out and rebuilt due to water damage from the burst pipe that happened during that recent cold snap.
So…yeah…any day now…
*sounds of intense sobbing and slurping from a Dixie cup*