ralph robert moore
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Copyright © 1999 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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everything you do
july 10, 1999
Our dishwasher stopped working. It began spreading grey water across the white vinyl, and would restart itself so that it ran cycle after cycle through the night, getting our plates ridiculously clean, our kitchen floor ridiculously dirty.
The repairman we brought out couldn't do anything. He was a nice guy, but his message, basically, was that American dishwashers are shit.
So we bought our third dishwasher since moving into our home eight years ago. This time we opted for one with a stainless steel interior. Lowering the wide door, peering inside at all that impressive hard steel, was like looking into a large, surgical instruments sterilizer used for operations on elephants.
They delivered the dishwasher earlier than we expected. While they waited on the other side of the front door, patiently standing around in duck bill caps and gloves, we quickly transferred the dirty dishes and silverware from the old dishwasher into our oven and broiler, just to have some place to keep it out of sight until the new dishwasher was installed.
The next morning we were out early, working in our back yard, pruning and weeding, lugging large bags of mulch over to different beds. That evening, wet with sweat, we collapsed in our chairs at the back of the yard, under tall trees, feeling the coldness of our beers seep down inside our hot bodies while whiteness spread across the coals in our grill.
I went inside at one point to turn the chicken over in its marinating bag, and to check the fettuccine boiling on the stove. Halfway through stirring, I realized there was an acrid smell in the air. Mary strolled in, nose scrunching. We pulled down the door on the oven. Our plates, forgotten but still inside from the day before, were quietly cracked apart; the black handles of the silverware vaporized.
Looking around, we realized the vaporized hard black plastic from the silverware handles was everywhere. Little black drifts across the white counters, and if you tried mopping them up with a paper towel, they smeared greasily down into the counter. Although we clean and dust regularly, cobwebs we didn't realize were there, high up on the intersecting planes of our two-story ceilings, had darkened and become visible, like black cotton candy.
It took us two evenings, and three ladders, to get rid of all the darkness. Our poor cats, trudging innocently across the kitchen floor, collected so much soot on their paws we had to take them one by one up onto our laps, licking the undersides of our fingers again and again to leach the blackness out of their fur.
Everything you do has a consequence.