I don’t believe I have any obsessive or compulsive issues; but I do really enjoy doing dishes.
It’s not as if I need to do dishes. If you ask any prior roommate (my brother Jason, for instance) you’ll know that I am not obsessively clean (my friend Teri will attest to this as well) and I’ve been known to leave dishes in the sink for a day or so (usually
I do enjoy the “job well done” aspect of doing the dishes, though. I also like the look of an empty stainless steel sink. I would probably like the look of any empty sink but stainless steel is the only material that I’ve ever encountered in the world of Alaskan kitchen décor.
I am also intensely distrustful of the ability of dishwasher to thoroughly wash dishes. My parents have a dishwasher that they can set to “pre-clean” and that has a garbage disposal in the drain to chop up relatively small dining debris. This was a post-empty-nest purchase and I’ve rented ever since moving out of my parent’s house, so I’m stuck with 1980’s style dishwashers.
In a quirk which puzzles my wife, I must wash the dishes by hand before loading them into the dishwasher. They are essentially clean when they get into the dishwasher but I use the dishwasher as an autoclave / drying rack.
I also never use the heated drying feature of any dishwasher because: a) I own plenty of plastic-wear which is liable to melt at high temperatures, and b) because I remember the smell of burning wooden spoons from my childhood. There must have been a magnet at the bottom of my parent’s old dishwasher that sucked the wooden spoons to their doom against the heating coils below. When I started buying kitchen utensils of my own I was surprised to discover that wooden spoons did not come from the store with blackened handles.
I enjoy the process of doing the dishes by hand. I have a fairly well thought-out system of using a big dish of water to soak the flatware while I clean the actual dishes. Then I clean the flatware and load it all pointy side up in the flatware container of the dishwasher. Yes, I know that pointy side up is dangerous and yes, I’ve probably stabbed myself with a knife or two along the way, but pointy side up means no spots on the flatware. Spots are not the worst thing in the world but I figure that if I’m going to take the time to wash something, I’d like it to look clean when it’s done.
If you ask me how I keep the spoons from “spooning” and therefore not getting clean, I’ll advise you that I have a system of splaying the ends of the flatware so that the middles are all approximately in the same area but the tops and bottoms are fanned out like a little flower garden of flatware. No, I have never used the phrase “a little flower garden of flatware” before.
I once read that a scientist who focused on theoretical mathematics used to dig holes in his backyard if he ran into a mathematical problem he couldn’t solve while at work. The process of doing a mindless task let his brain work in the problem “in the background” and he often found the solution popping into his head. His yard was also full of ditches and canals. I find that doing the dishes gives me an opportunity to listen to books on tape or just get into my head a bit without getting that bored anxious feeling I get when sitting quietly with a book (which I am almost unable to do these last few years).
In conclusion, I offer this advice (and I’m paraphrasing Jim Morrison): When you’re sad and feeling blue, go out and buy a brand new pair of shoes; or alternatively, do some dishes and listen to a Doors CD or a book on tape and let your brain work on your big problems without you interfering. It can’t hurt (unless you reach into the pointy side up knife section without thinking).
Is it weird I managed to write this whole thing with the first letter of each paragraph starting with an “I” ? Except for the last paragraph, this was not intentional. Oooo-eeeee-ooooo.