Larry Hodgson has published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings available to the public. This text was originally published in Fleurs, plantes et jardins in December 1998.
Years ago, I made a terrible mistake! I let myself be talked into buying a dishwasher.
My wife had been talking about it for several years, but, as usual, I said no. After all, we didn’t need it: we had teenagers to wash the dishes! What’s the point of having children if not to put them to work washing dishes?
My wife had a different opinion. “Anyway,” she reasoned, “the kids are growing up fast and they’ll be out of the house soon.” Oh yes? Why would they leave a house where they’re not only given free food and lodging, but where they”re not even made to wash dishes? On the contrary, if you want your children to ever leave home, this is the worst purchase you can imagine. I myself left my father’s house, where there was no dishwasher, at the age of 18. It seems to me that the connection is obvious. So as far as I was concerned, the debate was over and I had won. But my wife had not said her final word. And so the began the cold war.
The Cold War
When I complained that one or another of our children had run off without doing the dishes, my wife would say, “Ah, you see!” We both knew what she meant. I, on the other hand, frequently held up the electric bill, which seemed to increase month by month, saying, “It’s terrible how much hot water we waste!” An uninitiated person would have thought I meant that we were taking too long showers, but my wife understood. So the months passed.
It suddenly came to me as I sat in the backyard for the third day in a row with a bucket of hot soapy water between my knees, a dirty pot in one hand and a wire brush in the other, scrubbing vigorously to remove the last traces of scale. Beside me, hundreds of pots of all kinds in two separate piles; dirty and recently washed. After all, gardening (especially when you have a lot of houseplants) requires an amazing quantity of clean pots.
A Stroke of Genius
In between brush strokes, I had a brilliant idea. If we had a dishwasher, I could effortlessly wash my pots with it!
Obviously, I couldn’t say a word of this to my wife. “Not in my dishwasher!” she would have shouted.
“Honey,” I said to her between bites at dinner that night, “at WE SELL EVERYTHING they are advertising discounted dishwashers. Would you like to take a ride to see them?” After feigning nonchalance for a few moments, she finally agreed that it was a good idea. So, a week later, the dishwasher was installed in the kitchen and my wife was happy to have won. I was also happy to have won… a new dishwasher.
Dishwasher One, Pots Zero
I took advantage of my wife’s absence (I wasn’t going to put dirty pots in “her” brand new dishwasher; she would have killed me!), and filled the dishwasher with dirty pots. Then I filled the detergent dispenser, set the timer to maximum power and heat and started the machine, satisfied with my investment.
Soon, however, the smell of burnt plastic reached my nose. With horror, I opened the dishwasher… to find my plastic pots in a total mess, thrown everywhere by the machine’s powerful nozzles. Some of them were melting on the heating element at the bottom of the machine. What a disaster!
Of course, I thoroughly cleaned up the machine, opened all the windows to get rid of the smell and hid any evidence of my crime. Soon, quite frankly, there was no trace of my failed experiment. Besides, if it hadn’t been for a friend who told my wife the story several years later (thank you Raymond), she would never have known.
Now, every time I see the #*$?%$# dishwasher, I curse myself. To have invested so much in an appliance that doesn’t even benefit me is truly the worst mistake of my life!
Another Way to Wash Pots
Fortunately, I found another way to wash the pots. One day, I discovered that it’s quick and easy to wash plastic pots (but not clay ones, I’ll tell you that story another time) in the washing machine. It’s a real charm! But, for the love of Pete, don’t tell my wife!
Of course, as I predicted, now that we have a dishwasher, the kids don’t show the slightest sign of wanting to leave the house, and yet there are already two in their twenties. When I’m right, I’m right!
(And yes, despite the dishwasher, the three kids eventually left the house. Ed.)