Weekend Wanderer: How Does Batman Load His Dishwasher?

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I have a huge problem.

Well, I actually have two huge problems. My first problem is The Batman. Do I see it? Skip it? Wait until I stumble across it on TBS?

Did I really need another Batman when Christian Bale was such caped crusader perfection? No. But Andy Serkis? Jeffrey Wright? Come on! Have you seen What If … ? Boardwalk Empire? Is there nothing that man can’t do?

My second problem is even worse.

This is one of those problems relationship experts tell you to just let go. But weeks of sleeping on the sofa have wrought their damage. I mean, I forgot about the new season of Servant. I once ate dinner three tables away from M. Night Shyamalan. That makes us best friends. How could I forget my bestie’s television show?

My second problem is that my family – how do I say this diplomatically? – my family has an unorthodox approach to loading the dishwasher. In fact, their entire relationship with the dishwasher is bizarre. They’re like a David Lynch movie – I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s weird enough to keep me watching.

The first issue with the dishwasher is the age-old dilemma of loading the thing. Lesser families have been destroyed by arguments over proper dishwasher loading. But we’re not in a your-way-vs.-my-way-of-loading-the-dishwasher situation. If my plight was narrated by Jeffrey Wright, it would be called What If … the Dishwasher Was Loaded in a Functional Way?

Their approach to loading the dishwasher is impractical. I have found travel mugs loaded in the dishwasher with the lid on, still full of coffee. I have found bowls right side up, murky dishwater sloshing over the sides. Each time I unload the dishwasher is a new episode of Twin Peaks.

Then there’s the utter confusion over the status of the dishwasher. No one has mastered the indicators of a dirty load, a clean load, or a load that’s set to wash later.

So.

I have found dirty dishes wedged into a clean load. I have found a dirty load, largely empty, while a mountain of dirty dishes loiters in the sink. I have found a load of dishes, clean and ready to be put away, still in the dishwasher while – yes – a mountain of dirty dishes loiters in the sink.

I bought one of those clean/dirty magnets, hoping to clear up the confusion. But I always forget to flip it. My failure to flip the magnet makes my family fearful of engaging with the dishwasher. It’s like encountering a stray dog. It might be friendly. It might bite off your hand. They just don’t know, so they leave it alone.

Now, I know – I know – you’re not supposed to redo chores you’ve delegated to your family. I know this. So I don’t remake the bed. I don’t clean the bathroom my way after they’ve cleaned it their charming little way. I don’t go around behind them, dusting wood surfaces they have already Swiffered.

But the dishwasher I reload. In front of them. With impunity.

Are they offended? Am I angering them? Do they feel sorry for me?

Well, yes. They do feel sorry for me. They feel sorry for me because I’m too obsessive to just leave the dishwasher as-is. My method is nice, but it is just one option among many, including theirs.

When I reload the dishwasher, or giggle at a full travel mug of coffee, or sigh over a bowl full of dishwater, they shake their heads. The price of loving me, their eyes silently say, is dealing with my idiosyncrasies.

It doesn’t matter that The New York Times Wirecutter supports the way I load the dishwasher. It doesn’t matter that I’m right. Well, I mean obviously it matters that I’m right. Being right rules, although being Jeffrey Wright probably rules more.

But when you have told your children to shower after scrubbing their toilets, when you have accused your husband of hoarding crumbs to later maliciously dump on the kitchen counter, when you have confessed that The Container Store is your Valhalla, your family thinks your dishwasher antics are cute, but they also think that you are the David Lynch movie.

Listen. The crumb thing. In my defense, I was very pregnant and hormonal. And it never matters how much I wipe down the kitchen counter. The moment I turn my back, more crumbs appear. It’s like they rain down from the ceiling. I call it marine snow, after the detritus that showers the ocean floor.

My daughter and I recently watched the M. Night Shyamalan film Split. One of James McAvoy’s character’s identities is so obsessive, he remakes a sandwich after cutting the original sandwich asymmetrically. My daughter’s eyes slid toward me as I furtively concealed a facial expression that empathized with McAvoy’s character. “Maybe you have OCD like him,” she mused.

“You don’t have OCD,” my husband assured me later. “You’re very adorable. And just a bit trying.”

“We potty trained you too early!” my mom wailed. “That’s what’s wrong with you!”

Well, I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl, so I say that’s what’s right with me. Jeffrey Wright with me, even.

But I’ve probably just bought myself a few more days on the sofa.

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