Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Confessions of a Cold-Water Dish-Washer
Fridays are a good time for making confessions. So here's one of mine: When I started college, I didn't know that you needed to wash dishes in hot water.
All my life, we had had a dishwasher. My mother put everything she could in it--even crystal and china, much to my father's chagrin. I suppose that is what happens when you give a dishwasher to a woman who grew up in a family of nine where everything had to be done by hand. In any case, we very rarely washed anything by hand, and if we had to, my parents did it. They both hated drying, so that was my job. I'd never stuck my hands in a sink of dirty dishes to realize that the soapy water was actually quite hot.
Well, my freshman year of college, I worked at the campus Hillel center. Among my many jobs as the resident Gentile was the washing up of the dishes from Shabbat dinner on Saturday morning, since none of my Jewish coworkers was permitted to work that day. Every week, I would go with a Dave Matthew's album to listen to on my headphones and spend a couple of hours washing all the dishes and putting them neatly away. Every week, my supervisor would ask me if I had actually been in to do the work. I'm sure she was wondering whether I was lying to her, and I became increasingly distressed that she didn't seem to believe me when I told her the truth--that I'd spent two hours every Saturday morning scrubbing those dishes. Of course, what she didn't know--and what I didn't realize was a problem--was that I'd been doing all that scrubbing in a sink of lukewarm water. The greasy dishes, which had been filled with kugels and roast chicken thighs, were still oily, and though they looked clean, they certainly didn't feel it.
Well, after several weeks, I discovered my mistake, and the Shabbat dishes were squeaky clean after that, but I never did confess to my supervisor what the problem had been. I was too embarassed. I was a capable, talented, intelligent 18-year-old, and I had been unable to successfully clean a sinkful of dishes!
I offer this tidbit of embarassing information for two reasons.
First, to let those of you who read this blog of mine know how far I have come as a homemaker in recent years. What I share with you of my housekeeping discoveries and tricks and tips are hard-won and humbly offered.
Secondly, I would encourage my younger and unmarried readers to start getting their hands dirty now! Don't put housekeeping off until after college or until you're married. Keep your things neat and organized. Clean the toilet. Do the laundry, and the ironing, too. Wash the dishes. Do these things regularly and not just when it's piled up to the breaking point. Do them properly and with care. Your family, roommates, or whoever you live with will thank you now, and you'll keep yourself out of hot water later when you have a husband and children who are relying on you to keep them safe, healthy, and comfortable in the home you're building together.