“Whatcha doin’, Don?” The question is tossed out, even though there is no one named Don around. I look over at the Lovely Lady, smiling at me from the couch. Of course, I know the proper answer, so it comes unbidden, “Washing dishes.” Quite obviously, the answer isn’t the truth, since I have just awakened from an evening nap in my recliner, but I have satisfied the requirements of the repartee and we lapse into our comfortable silence once more. I wasn’t around when the little sketch was developed, but it has been a part of our repertoire for many years.
The Don in question is a cousin of the Lovely Lady’s who spent a semester or two in his college years living with her family. He was pestered continually by the much-younger cousins, who just wanted his attention. Of course, they resorted to the time-honored, “Whatcha doin?'” to start a conversation. Don, developed the response as a mechanism for communicating the idea that the question was a silly one. The response would always be the same, whether he was eating supper, or studying, or tying his shoes. The reply, “Washing dishes,” would invariably be met with, “No, you’re not. You’re ____________!” followed by his retort, “Well, if you knew, why’d you ask?” I’m guessing that such logic was lost on the two little girls, but it must have satisfied his exasperation at the interruptions,and the little tableau entered the halls of immortality in the Lovely Lady’s family, and so into mine.
Not my favorite activity, washing dishes. I grew up in a family of seven, with the five children shouldering the washing up responsibilities as soon as each of us was able to reach the dish tub which was placed in the old chipped ceramic sink and filled with hot, soapy water. Five children – five weekdays, so my day as the youngest was always Friday. The weekends were on a rotating schedule which was always written on the calendar which hung on the back of the cupboard door nearest the sink. My turns were marked with whining and carping, along with a bit of creative dirty-dish storage. Under the sink worked for awhile, then behind the canned goods in the pantry took its turn. The last straw was the time I hid the unbelievably crusty casserole dish in the oven. The next day, the oven was preheated as supper was prepared, only to fill the kitchen and house up with the incredible stench and smoke from the smoldering mess. The backside a little sorer, I took another shot at the dishes that day too and never tried that again. Did I mention I don’t like to wash dishes?
Fast forward forty years or so and the situation hasn’t changed much. My pleasure at owning a dishwasher cannot be overstated. I still balk at loading the monster, since obviously I have no concept of the term “full dishwasher”. I insert the glasses where the pans should go, and the plates take up twice as much space as necessary. The pans? Well, don’t get me started on that! Needless to say, the Lovely Lady has graciously agreed to take the responsibility for this task, leaving me to rinse the dishes and place them on the counter, ready for her puzzle-solving abilities in fitting them in. Why do I rinse the dishes (essentially washing them before washing), when we’re told that dishwashers clean them quite adequately without the added step? Because it’s a lie, proven by the spots and little stuck-on particles which remain if they are not rinsed. So, whether it’s considered “green” or not, I’ll continue “washing dishes” before they’re actually washed. You’ll thank me, if you’re ever lucky enough to be invited over to enjoy one of the amazing dinners for which the Lovely Lady is famous.
One day when you have the time and you walk into the music store, finding me at my workbench restringing my umpteenth guitar for the day, and are foolish enough to ask what I’m doing, don’t be surprised if I answer with the foolish words, “Washing dishes!” Well, ask a silly question…
“A question that sometimes drive me hazy; Am I, or are the others crazy?”
(Albert Einstein~American physicist~1879-1955)
“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable.”
(C.S. Lewis~British scholar and novelist~1898-1963)