“I haven’t been able to eat at home for days,” my friend tells me over dinner.
“Too busy?” I inquire politely. It’s a common theme in our conversations, discussing how busy we’ve been.
She smiles ruefully even as she’s shaking her head, “No, it’s not that. I just can’t dirty any dishes right now.”
Feeling a little bit like she somehow spoke in code, I mentally go through what she just said. I understand the words, but somehow the meaning was just out of reach.
“Why can’t you dirty dishes?” I finally ask. Based on her answering grin, that’s exactly what she wanted.
This is her story, told through me:
My roommate and I have a dirty dish war going on.
It started when she began to leave the clean dishes piled in the sink. Not a big deal. A pile of clean dishes doesn’t bother me. And when I cooked or had dishes of my own I just cleaned them then put then on top of her pile to dry.
Then she started to leave a pile of clean dishes and a small pile of dirty dishes. So, when I cooked or dirtied my own dishes I had to put away the clean dishes, clean her dirty dishes, then clean my own dishes. This happened enough times that I finally decided that if I was putting away her clean dishes and cleaning her dirty dishes, that it was only fair that she wash mine. So I started to leave my dirty dishes piled up for her to wash. And she did wash them, for a while. Then she stopped.
I clearly remember the first time I saw the dirty dishes piled onto the counter next to the sink. So there was a pile of clean dishes on one side of the sink, a pile of dirty dishes on the other side, and a pile of dishes on the counter. My first reaction was disbelief. Surely she wasn’t so busy that she hadn’t been able to do the dishes at all! So I washed everything, put everything away, and forgot about it. Until the next time.
Suddenly it seemed like she never got around to washing her dishes. I would see the piles of dirty, and clean, dishes take up the sink and the counter next to it, and I would wait for her to clean them. And she never did. Eventually I had to clean them myself because I had to cook. So she was basically waiting me out.
One day, about two weeks ago, I got home, cleaned all the dishes, and put everything away. And I stopped dirtying dishes and I stopped cooking. If I make a cup of coffee, I clean and dry that cup immediately. I bought a bunch of frozen dinners and plasticware for lunches. I pick up to go food or drive thru meals for dinner, when I don’t actually eat out.
It’s costing me a fortune.
Her dishes stayed there for five days before she realized that this time she was just out of luck. And then her next batch stayed there for four days… which she eventually cleaned. Right now there’s a big pile of dishes again.
I think I can’t actually eat at home until I see that there aren’t any dishes piled up in the kitchen for more than one day straight. Which hasn’t happened in months.
I think I need a new place to live.
I think she just needs a good voodoo doll.