Why is it that bad things seem to happen in threes and always when you are least prepared?
It was Christmas Eve when our GE brand dishwasher broke. No big deal in the grand scheme of things with four little dishwashers who just happen to look like me running about the house, but we were having everyone in my wife’s extended family over for Christmas dinner the next day. Besides which, two of the older model, prodigy-brand dishwashers are subject to hormonal imbalances that will cause them to malfunction, sometimes catastrophically. They will either not clean the dishes or put them away properly and then argue about it with the spouse-brand dishwasher or just outright break them. The latter option, to me, seems the wiser course as one no longer has to wash a broken dish—and they are dirty when they are dropped as it would be completely foolish to drop a clean dish unless one just doesn’t want to put it away—but not as foolish as arguing with the spouse-brand dishwasher. Even I know better than that. Most days anyway.
I used to load the dishwasher. I’d carefully scrape each dish over the garbage can, rinse it almost clean, and then squirt a ring of dish soap on it, scrubbing it until it sparkled before loading it into the GE brand dishwasher in a very organized, medium population density that would assure they would be clean and spotless when the cycle was done. This was not how it was done as I came to find out.
“You’re wasting dish soap,” I was told as the spouse-brand proceeded to reorganize what I had loaded.
She would then cram a second load of dishes into the poor, overworked machine, and then she’d load yet more, the before and after showing me that I was only utilizing about forty percent of the dishwasher’s total capacity. Through this, I’d watch, silent, shaking my head at the abuse that was unfolding before my eyes, too afraid to speak up and too weak to stop it. No, I chose to register my protest not by coming to the defense of this short, squat creature but by refusing to participate. At all.
“Right,” stated the spouse-brand dryly when I explained this to her as the GE brand wept in the background curled up in the fetal position in the corner we had shoved her. It’s no wonder then that she died in the prime of her life. The GE brand that is. She was, in human years I figured, about twenty-four. Still a child really. She deserved better.
The spouse-brand dishwasher had the temerity to be upset over GE’s premature death but not because she had died so young and from obvious physical abuse. No, she was upset because the GE brand had been weak and had given up on life when she still had so much cleaning left to do, cleaning which she had been not completing to the spouse-brand’s satisfaction for some time now. I was upset too, but only because I had paid a plumber to install her yesterday in the new kitchen I have worked on for the last four years because my wife had insisted that we hire a plumber as I did not have time to do the kitchen plumbing myself before Christmas. I should have known better. The GE was tired of life, her ticket punched on the final train ride home. She had spent the last three-plus years of her existence doing the work of two-and-a-half dishwashers. Her life expectancy of ten years had been drastically reduced because of this and, in reality, she’d held on to her life longer than anyone had a right to expect her to. Still, she was so young…
On the morning of Christmas Eve, the spouse-brand dishwasher frantically searched the websites of the local hardware stores for a replacement dish-washing slave that was more consistent than the prodigy-brand and below the radar of child protective services. I sat beside her and constructed a fitting eulogy in my head, trying to find forgiveness for one who would abuse such a helpless and defenseless creature that had left behind siblings who would surly mourn her passing and, perhaps, commiserate by checking out early themselves in retribution. This was my fear as I mentally placed a big red X over the GE in my head and then pictured the two most expensive and indispensable appliances, the oven and refrigerator, beside her, waiting their turn. If only that were the extent of it.
I carefully coaxed the body of the young GE from her recent plumber-installed setting in the new kitchen that had been her home for less than a day, and drug her corpse over to a clear spot on the floor. As her extended GE family watched in silence, I gently laid her on her back, and then I proceeded to harvest the vital organs needed by her replacement. It was too much for the fridge which began keening and weeping into the tray of the automatic ice-cube maker as I slowly twisted off two orange wire nuts and removed her power cord, her life support permanently and irrevocably disconnected, her death absolute and assured. Feeling a bit sheepish and insensitive, I positioned my body between the GE refrigerator, the oven, the range and the range hood to block their view of their fallen sister and shoved her a bit to the right with my foot so the island blocked the view of the others as I continued to dismember her corpse. I had no choice. It was 2 pm on Christmas Eve and somebody was getting dismembered for this unscheduled funeral. I’ll be damned, but it wasn’t going to be me.
I cut the box from the new dishwasher and stood for a moment marveling at the family resemblance. Like her dead sister, she was a black GE, but she bore a stronger resemblance to the wall oven with touch controls mounted on top of her head rather than on her face. She was clean, pretty, and new and her breath smelled of fresh plastic when I powered her up, but her arrival was a bittersweet moment for I knew that soon she too would be donating her organs so that a newer model could be callously birthed on the kitchen floor in a cardboard box by the spouse-brand in three years or less, but not before her warranty expired, as her extended GE family mourned yet another who had died before their time. No matter. I’d made my choice years ago. I would not be participating in this young one’s upbringing. I would not allow myself to become attached. It was better that way.
I stood the deceased up right and tenderly shrouded her with her baby sister’s delivery blanket that was now as cold and impersonal as a cardboard box. I intended to place her body in our unheated garage and, perhaps, autopsy her in the spring, making use of her motorized heart and rubber arteries so that others might benefit from her sacrifice which I swore would not be in vain, but that was later. For now I just stood, silent, reflecting.
And I’m not sure, but I think I heard the refrigerator behind me rumble and sigh, One down, two to go…