Monday, January 23, 2006

The Art of Competency

When Gloria and I first moved in with each other (about nine years ago), we had a discussion about laundry. "How do you do your laundry?" she asked.

"I, um, throw it in the dark hole, put in soap, and turn the knob until I hear rushing water."

"You don't sort?" she asked.

"What is this 'sort' you speak of?"

"Arrggghh!" she said. Then she made this really funny noise that sounded like ambient African wildlife. And she never asked me to do any of her laundry.

Of course I sort my laundry. But I sort it when I buy my clothes. That way I only have to sort it once.

Tonight, Gloria was cooking. "I'm going to make General Tso's chicken," she said. "How does that sound?"

"Do you believe that?" I asked.

"Believe what?"

"That there was a General named 'Tso' who spent his free time dabbling in chicken dishes?"

"Probably not," she said.

"This is probably really called 'Vanquished Beheaded Peasants chicken.' With cashews."

"Noted," she said.

After dinner, there were dishes. Many dishes. If Gloria makes toast, there are eight pans and six dishes to wash.

I believe this is genetic.

I was rinsing some of the dishes and loading the dishwasher. The dishwasher was almost full when Gloria walked in. "I'll do that," she said eagerly.

"Almost done," I said.

"I'll finish up," she said.

"No problem," I said. "I've got it."

"Really," she said. "Let me."

"Oh no," I said. "This is a basic competency issue, isn't it?" My wife thinks I'm entirely incompetent to do the dishes.

"It's just that the dishes have to be rinsed before they're put in the dishwasher," she said. Gloria doesn't believe that a plate is rinsed unless it looks like it just came out of an autoclave.

"I rinse them!" I said. "I just believe that the dishwasher bears some responsibility."

"And we can't leave any food out because of the cats."

"What? I don't leave food out," I said.

"What happens when the dishwasher is full?" She asked.

"I leave," I said. "But I do rinse the food off the other plates."

"Well..." she said. "Sort of."

"I'm not very good at this, am I?"

"And you tend to think the dishwasher's full when there's still plenty of room left."

"You're right!" I said with growing enthusiasm. "I can't believe it--I'm complete shit!"

"So just let me do this," she said.

"Thank goodness!" I said. "Because I--am--horrible."

"In fact," she said, "I think you should just stay away from the dishes entirely and I'll--I'll--hmm. Suddenly you never have to do the dishes."

Thank goodness that's settled. I mean, I'm a menace.

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