I’ve had a draft of this idea saved for a few months, and the idea for it came a full year ago from a conversation I had with my friend, Jan. We were visiting while the kids played, and as I quickly washed a couple of dishes in the middle of our conversation, she said, “Okay, I can ask you this – why don’t Mexican women use dishwashers?”
Oh, I laughed. Some of you are laughing now – I can hear you.
I laughed because Jan is so astute and observant, and she’s bold and curious, and because the reason Mexican women don’t use dishwashers is funny.
Disclaimer/Waiver/Unapology: The tag line for this blog is “Opinion|Culture|Truth|Humor.” If this story is not yet funny to you and in any way offensive, please stop reading now. If you KNOW what I’m talking about and find it funny, please ignore this disclaimer/waiver/unapology and keep reading. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, but you want to be in on the joke and forever look at every Mexican woman you know and inwardly wonder if she’s the kind who uses a dishwasher, read on.
So, for those of you who haven’t left the building, I hardly need to go any further because you already know the reason. However, for the sake of storytelling, let’s keep going.
I’m standing in my kitchen with Jan, and both of us are laughing by now. And I say, “I can tell you this: Mexican women don’t use dishwashers because it’s considered a lazy way to do the dishes.”
Let’s pause while you laugh. My friend and I are both educated, sensible women who do things like read manuals and follow rules. Knowing her as I do, I can surmise that she probably is much better with the details of things like sorting laundry and organizing closets – details which often escape me because I am doing things like writing blogs in my head and laughing inanely to myself. So, the look on her face when I made this statement was PRICELESS.
“Lazy??” Jan asked. “How is that lazy?” My linear friend and I know the ins and outs of dishwashers, you see. We know about the high, bacteria-slaying water temperatures and the all-important sanitation rinse and heated dry options. I’ll bet that, like me, she would NEVER select the fast wash option. What self-respecting woman would do that? Fast wash does not allow for sanitation rinse and heated dry.
So, I’m laughing with her, because I have to explain that, while I’m a Mexican washing a dish in that moment, I’m also a hypocrite, because I know and dearly love my dishwasher. Furthermore, I had to admit to her that I am an outlier in my culture, that I am considered progressive by my mother, who stares warily at my dishwasher when I load and unload it (she smartly uses her own dishwasher for dish storage and proudly washes her dishes, my dishes and anyone else’s dishes the proper way), and that I am considered lazy by my mother-in-law, who is a dear and would never directly say such a thing, but whose “I’ve never had a dishwasher in my life” comments smack of pride and thereby, judgement. (Note for future blog: in my culture, your mother-in-law is allowed to judge you, and you have to accept it as part of your training. Side note: if you don’t accept it – you’re the kind of woman who has problems with her mother-in-law. Side, side note: All of us go through a period of not accepting it.)
Back to the story: I have to explain that hand-washing dishes is the RIGHT way – the un-lazy way, and that loading dirty dishes into a machine that doesn’t have hands, a sponge, and eyes is considered the lazy way. Doing things by hand and from scratch and with no recipes is the right way, and doing anything else is the wrong way. I could go on and on about right ways and wrong ways, but let’s stick to dishwashers. They’re the wrong way. I hope I’ve clarified that.
A true Mexican, my husband hates the dishwasher. Hates. It. (I’ll explain his last name in another blog, and no he’s not adopted.) He inspects each glass and each dish like he’s Inspector 56 in an assembly line. He can see the spots and tiny food fragments that are left behind on anything, and he will make a huge production out of taking each glass out of the cabinet and placing it ceremoniously next to the sink for proper washing. I endure this, because I’m an optimist: most of the dishes are clean and have no spots. I can deal with the errant ones who seem to only get spotty so that all traditional Mexicans (and the entire OCD population) can have some beef with dishwashers. It’s not personal.
So, I explain all of this to Jan, and she’s shaking her head and laughing – she’s a touch OCD herself and always beautifully and meticulously put-together – so she can understand the logic behind the judgement. She gets it, and she’s satisfied with the answer. We move on to other matters.
Now she knows, and you know, and everyone is happy. But now I have to tell you something no one knows except my mother and my baby sister, who has been waiting for this blog post for a year: my dishwasher broke yesterday. It was full of unwashed dishes, and now it’s dead.
Yeah. Keep laughing. My dishwasher may be broken – but my roots are intact. I win.