Confessions of a professional procrastinator

I wasn’t bored. Not in the least. But I was avoiding standing in front of a camera blathering to myself and I can’t possibly be expected to work when there are dishes beside the sink.

Most things get chucked in the dishwasher. But I have this “thing” about handwashing knives, crystal, antique dishes, measuring spoons, measuring cups, spatulas…I guess the list is fairly long and I appear on the edge of psychosis.

But here I was, washing away, playing with the nice bubbles when I recalled how fun it was last week to clean up the spill in the freezer that happened about six years ago. It was leftover saskatoon syrup that had left an elegant purple smear on the inside front of the freezer wall and had oozed and puddled beneath the slider tray.

To clean it meant removing everything from the freezer, taking out the slider tray and realizing it had also poured beneath some part that was bolted down. It looked like a tiny bolt that you’d need a tiny wrench to remove and I didn’t have a tiny wrench. I consulted my husband.

He appeared with the magic tool and with a few deft twists of the wrists unbolted this thing. I cleaned and I put everything back in the freezer in a hyper-organized way and we ate the cookies we found. For the next few days, I opened the freezer several times a day to admire its cleanliness and neatness.

I was avoiding the same work task this week (the wretched video) that I had been avoiding last week. I put two coffee mugs in the dishwasher and decided it looked scungy. Those filter teeth things needed a dental assistant with a sharp and painful tool. The screen thing looked like it trapped more than it should. And there was that centimeter of water that had laid in the bottom for the 15 years we’ve lived in this house. I sopped up the water from time to time, but not with pleasure. Why anyone would ever invent a dishwasher that kept water on the bottom was as beyond my comprehension.

But cleaning the dishwasher is a hideous job. Removing the racks that now had dishes on them. Kneeling on the floor. Practically crawling into the machine with an old toothbrush.

I thought about the work problem. I removed the racks. The filters would be so much easier to clean if they just came out of there. Interestingly, they had the same cute little bolts that needed a cute little wrench. I called my husband. He appeared. He removed the parts.

I was standing nearby with the toothbrush and a sink of soapy water. What he handed me could not have come from the dishwasher. It was as gag inducing as a hairball fished out of the bathroom drain. It had pink blobs of undissolved soap and a murk that made me think of tar ponds.

Work took on a whole new appeal. I was trying to figure out a way to make my cell phone ring so I could answer it in a professional tone, then whisper to my husband, “Work call. Important.”

But he kept a close watch on me. It was as if he thought I was about to throw out the stainless steel screws. He plopped two pieces of sludge in the water, just missing my rubber-gloved hands.

“Why would you put those in the sink?” I tossed them in the garbage.

“What are you doing?”

“They are disgusting filth!”

“They are vital parts of the dishwasher. They keep the water from pouring all over the floor.”

My stomach isn’t weak. It’s smart.

I’m the person who used to retch when my mother did a daily clean of the lint filter of the washing machine – all that grey slimely stuff that she’d scoop up with bare hands and toss in the garbage. “What is wrong with you?” she asked as I ran to the bathroom.

Standing in my own kitchen with my husband on his knees beside me, I talked myself into being an adult. I thought of the diapers I’d changed.  I stared out the window. Nothing compared.

The kitchen door was close. Could I run?

“Are you done yet?”

I pretended they were teeth. I pretended I was a sick kind of dental hygienist and I got every speck of tartar build-up off that filter, the screens. I washed down the interior of the “work saving” appliance. I wondered how we’d never died of disease. I wondered how other the other families who had lived in this house had never died of disease…or maybe, they had. That would be creepy. Mysterious deaths, a murdering appliance with a vengeance…

“Are you even paying attention to what you’re doing?”

I changed the water. Made it hotter. Added more soap. It was less awful now. This wasn’t like the blooming green mould that grows in the sour cream container when it gets pushed to the back of the fridge. This was nothing. It wasn’t gum disease, it was just the tartar build-up of someone who didn’t floss.

An open mouth with rotting teeth was not a good image. I returned to the vengeful appliance. Roaring and clinking, steam gushing from the front. Why would it want everyone to die?

The dishwasher back together, we set it to wash. I needed arctic fresh air to reduce the queasiness in my stomach, to try to forget all that I had seen and to figure out if other appliances might be part of the plot.

The freezer could “ice” someone, the stove could start fires…

Now, I was set to get back to work. But not the work. That could wait until tomorrow.

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