Saturday, April 22, 2006


Is it possible to fall in love with an appliance?

(Figuratively wagging my finger at you, dear reader): No no, no, I don't mean that appliance used mostly nocturnally by the lonely and lustful - but a dishwasher!

Love Chunks and I partially renovated our kitchen earlier this year and felt that our island bench deserved a state-of-the-art dishwasher inserted in it. We were hesitant: would such a box really be capable of cleaning cutlery as well as a pair of hands in pink rubber gloves? Admittedly I was the most skeptical. In 1988 when I was single, sharing a townhouse in Hackney and still convinced that a shaggy spiral perm was the epitome of sophistication, it was also the last time I had ever used a dishwasher.

It was a lovely poo-brown monster, with bright orange knobs on it in homage to the era that fashion, common sense and interior design forgot - the late seventies. However, for us it was only a few years old and certainly seemed a much fun-ner way of getting our plates clean than one of us doing it. Besides, we were diligent university students. We were much more focussed on drinking, finding money for drinking and learning how to cook (usually in that order), and these pursuits left little energy or will for doing anything as sensible as filling the sink up with palmolive and finding the green scourer thingy.

Therefore, the brown monster's first operation for us three girls was an important one: what luxury to have a dishwasher and how remote those arguments with my brothers about whose turn it was to do the dishes seemed. Jo, as the sexy but sensible geology major, read the instructions etched on the front and Fiona, the scatter-brained but creative writer flung in some dishwashing powder. I made all three of us my Tuesday night dinner specialty - toasted tinned spaghetti sandwiches with additional slices of cheese.

Our laboured chewing of the charcoaled squares of mostly inedible filling served only as a coincidental background percussion to the sounds of fury emanating from the kitchen. The windows rattled in sympathy as the machine seemingly sprayed, shook and blasted it's way through the 'regular wash' cycle. "Jeez, I thought that they were supposed to be gentle on your dishes," I remarked, giving up on my sandwich and venturing into the kitchen for a look.

There were some foam and bubbles oozing out of the bottom but what did I know - that also happened when Mum put on a load of washing and the drain in the laundry floor vomited the froth back up. Tentatively, I placed my hands on the counter directly above the machine, noting that the volume had now moved beyond eleven. The formica felt hot, but hey, what did I know - dishes had to be cleaned in hot water didn't they?

My head was starting to throb from the noise, so I grabbed three bottles of cider and backed out of the room into our living area. No respite there, seeing as it was all open plan. "HEY JO," I mimed, "CAN YOU CHECK IT? IS IT WORKING OK?" She bravely skulled her bottle and did a rather good impression of a muscle-man swinging his arms in determination. Good old Jo would know what to do. All of a sudden, the noise stopped. "Thank Packets of Panadol for that," Fi sighed. "At least now we'll be able to put on the telly and...." WHOOSH! WHOOSH! CHUGA CHUGA CHUGA WHOOSH!

She spoke too soon. Our few seconds of peace was merely the eye of the sudsy storm. It was decided that we three needed to escape the din and instead walk around the corner to the pub for a while. Several hours later we came home, full of spirits that produced a lot of good cheer. Had the dishwasher finally finished? Was the kitchen still intact? Yes it was. Jo opened the poo brown door of the dishwasher. Sediment from the detergent was still smeared down the walls and all over the glasses giving them a somewhat festive look. The crockery on the other hand resembled a basket of shattered easter eggs that sat mournfully in a puddle under the sprayer. "Stupid bloody thing," I muttered, giving the door a kick. Ooops - this last movement caused the three vegemite jars we used as drinking glasses to topple over and crack. "Er sorry Jo, I'll get you another couple...."

........... Eighteen years later, I read the dear old Dishlex's instruction book from cover to cover. It was quite an education let me tell you. I'd never even heard of internal fresheners or rinse aids and needed to phone a friend for pasta bowl packing advice. After a busy day of eating (for the dishwasher's sake of course) our first load was ready. Love Chunks popped in the block with the 'magic ball' (it just looked like a common old jaffa to me) and I shut the door. We agreed to select the 'economy cycle' and went to bed.

The morning dawned warm, balmy and bright with hope. Dear sweet Dishlex's door was opened to reveal a gleaming top and bottom drawer full of clean, streak-free and intact dishes. Perfect plates, gorgeous glasses, nifty knives and terrific tupperware. Blinking back tears - either from emotion or from sticking my head too far inside and bashing it against the stainless steel roof - I closed the door, leaving all of the magnificent dishware inside. I quickly looked to my left to make sure that Love Chunks and Sapphire weren't about to enter the room, and I gave the Dishlex door a kiss of gratitude.

Reality then set in - I really felt like a coffee, and the dog was pestering me for her weetbix breakfast. What a bugger - I'd have to unpack the dishwasher.

3 comments:

Deep Kick Girl said...

The dishwasher is a wonderous, magical kitchen appliance. At one point in my life I too scoffed at the idea of such an indulgence but now I would cry like a baby should ours breakdown. Enjoy your new kitchen friend and don't forget to put the plastics up the top (you don't want to deal with the twisted, melted mess).

PS Hope your nearly amputated finger is feeling better.

RedolentRepartee said...

What a beautiful love story! *sniff sniff* LOL Enjoy your wonderous magical kitchen appliance.

DrB said...

welcome to the dishwaher league!!
It is my favourite appliance too.