Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Clean the Freaking Dishes

I thought our fights were about something bigger than actual dishes – you know, the chick thing: You never listen to me; you don’t value my decision making; you SAY that you love me, but just look at your actions.

I thought that the fighting was about all the unsaid things in our relationship, but really, it was just about the dishes.

Which was a shame, since I saved some fresh picked and crispy arguments from my garden of excuses and had them available to drop on her at a moments notice -- just in case we went analogical in our anger.

We had the usual deal – she cooked, I cleaned. This never worked. From the beginning, I would wash the dishes, then she would show up in the after and complain that I had done them wrong – they were, “not clean,” to use her exact words.

She would then point to specific flaws and stains. I would pretend to see them, though they were invisible and ethereal, then I'd rewash them in a flurry of anger until she left me alone.

This went on for years.

I tried most the basics to deal with her unreasonableness: denial, bargaining, anger, (but not acceptance – lines must be drawn, even for the passive.) I used paper plates when possible, broke things that seemed questionable and ordered take out more than necessary. Nothing worked – I had a hard time fixing something that I didn’t see as broken, though, to be fair, the weight of evidence was tending to point to at least  poor technique on my part.

I never did get it and she went on to marry someone who could provide new dishes for every meal.

I flashed on this when having Easter with my family. As Uncle Peter and I were discussing global warming, and some possible solutions, the thought balloon came lit up in my head and I suddenly realized what I should have said to her”:

“What in our history makes you think I’m capable of washing dishes?”

This was a twofer of illumination, which pleased me to no end. From this small analogy emerged the greater principle – just like Mandelbrot did with his stupid dots.

Since man crawled from the sea, we’ve been on a progressive, linear path – we exploit natural resources to get what we think we need. This is not opinion or subjective, it’s both historical and written on the land in pen.

This is both what we have done and what we are doing now.

“What in our history makes us think that we are capable of changing this behavior?”

Americans put out 40% of all the greenhouse gases in the world and everyone wants to be an American, or at least have our model of homes and cars.

45% of Americans don’t believe in even the concept of global warming – to them, it’s the invisible rantings from a people who have an agenda other than theirs – all part of a conspiracy of intelligence against the dunces, like themselves, to be put in their place.

And even if it’s true, so what, they say? There is time, and no need for any premature rush to judgment.

I tend to be a Cassandra about things, but I get it. The solutions are drastic, and the outcome vague and I’ve been wrong in the past: South Africa changed without bloodshed; the economy didn’t melt down last year; O.J. did, eventually, end up in prison.

And if I had lived before the Civil War I would have been overwhelmed by the slavery issue, and would have recommended caution.

All this said,  I have a cautious optimism for the future, in spite of a gut feeling of impending doom. Like a well-differentiated cancer, we are survivors and will muddle through somehow, someway, though I do think we will need to get a bigger boat at some point.

Oh, and the dish thing – towards the end we compromised – I washed the pots and pans and she did the regular dishes. I don’t think either of us was happy about it, since I didn’t change, but we did find a compromise that worked until she dumped me for the bigger boat of new plate guy.


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