Sunday, February 26, 2006
Doing dishes from years before.
"Where the hell's our dishwasher?" I asked myself, looking at the huge mess left from last night.
Answering myself, I heard me say, "You are the dishwasher, stupid!"
In our house, I do the dishes. My wife would like for me to have a dishwasher, but I defer. Maybe the reason we fight tooth and nail on this dish washer issue is because of mornings like these. Being the only house in this entire end of town sans a dishwasher is a badge I wear with pride at times, particularly on these mornings.
See it's only rare occasions with very special meals like last eve that we even break out the China.
(And note, here, China is a misnomer, because I remember as a very young child when my mother received these cups and plates and saucers. And I remember appreciating the beautiful pieces of that China, even after discovering the conundrum printed on the bottom of each where it was stamped in the tiniest of print, "Japan".
I never mentioned this to my mom. She was so proud of that set of China with servings for 12. Even then, I knew my parents had come thru the hard times of the depression long before I ever came along. This was mom's very first set of China and it meant so very much to her. It would be her only set of China.
But it was post WWII when Japan bore the reputation of the vanquished and anything Japanese was thought of as inferior goods. As junk.
It was only over the years with the rise of Toyotas and Nikons that I began to appreciate our dinnerware. Somewhere along the way, I realized the Japanese were probably the foremost makers of quality China, for wasn't it we Americans who had taught them so well the secrets of glazing and high temperature firings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
And so one of the things I pride myself in yet today is the fact that, as a kid, I never asked my mom of her new dishes, "Mom, why, on the bottom of each piece of China does it say "Japan"?
But you know what I really like about those plates, cups and saucers? Well, it's washing 'em the next morning after an evening with special friends like last night. By hand. Not in some machine with hoses and heating elements.
Because as I clean each one, I'm remembering the history of these dishes. I'm thinking of all the people from my past who ever ate off each plate or drank from each cup. And it amazes me most are now all gone. It's like my personal hall-of-fame of family and friends now departed, but in these few moments now resurrected.
There was my folks, my two older brothers, 17 and 18 years my seniors, whom as a kid I worshipped and looked up to so much. Of old family friends and aunts and uncles and cousins. All dead. Of Christmases and Thanksgivings gone. And hams, pot roasts and turkeys served up with all the trimmings. Of the green beans that sat on my plate and the embarrassment I suffered before so many of those people because I couldn't excuse myself from the table to go outside and play til I'd eaten 'em. And by then they were gaggingly cold.
And so this morning, alone with those dishes as my wife--who'd so deliciously filled them the night before--still slept, I passed an hour's time with those plates, cups and saucers. It seemed like only a minute or two. But before I knew, the dishes were done. And as I replaced them affectionately back on the shelf for who-knows-how-many-more-months before the next special dinner, I put away my parents, and my siblings, and all those friends and family so important to me so very, very long ago.
And you just don't get mystical experiences like that from any dishwasher with hoses and heating elements.