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War of the Dishwashers
by Linda Barber

My husband is type A. I’m something else. We’ve been married since 1976, and we’ve always had a “dishwasher” problem. When we were at my mother’s house the other night, he insisted on loading the dishwasher for her. If I had loaded it, she would have been off to the den, but as John performed his magic, she watched his every move, gushed that she didn’t even think Jesus could load that many dishes in a dishwasher, and then kissed him on the cheek. I told her that she’s never kissed me on the cheek for loading the dishes. She said mine aren’t artistically inspired like his, and I don’t get all the dishes in there.  But I am blindingly fast!

I wouldn’t care if he loaded every dish in every dishwasher until the end of time, but he never stops there. He literally checks my dishwasher and reloads it. He takes every dish out just to get two cereal bowls in. Shifting a dish or two is one thing, but unloading everything to pack in a few more dishes seems a bit obsessive. I told him once that my perfectionist father would never let me do anything without taking it out of my hands to do it the “right” way, so when John reorganizes my dishes, the message I get is that I did it wrong, He told me, “Yep. That’s right. You did do it wrong.”

Last night I went ballistic. As I was sitting on the couch, I could hear him reordering my dishes and I said, “Honey, just put the extra ones there in the sink. I’ll put them in tomorrow’s load.” Then right before bed, I went in the kitchen to put the soap in the dispenser to wash them. It looked artistically inspired. I stomped upstairs and intended on not speaking at all, but then I blew up, pursued him into the bathroom and ranted like a banshee. You would have thought he had killed my first born. At first, he just squinted his eyes at me wondering whether I had lost my mind. But then he said the worst thing possible. “Something else must be bothering you. Maybe we need to talk about it.” Then, I just went into an extended orbit. “No, it’s not about anything else. It’s about the goddamn dishes. Don’t touch the goddamn dishes in my goddamn dishwasher!” He hasn’t loaded a dish in that dishwasher in two weeks, and I’m mightily suspicious that I won the battle but lost the war.