If you are the kind of person who lives in a home with air conditioning and a dishwasher, please see yourself as serenely out the door as you entered it. For the rest of you — I have only to look into your eyes and I know that you too have felt unequal to the task of washing a sink full of dirty dishes in a hot apartment.
This is not tips for getting your dishes clean. You know how to clean your own dishes. You want to be able to clean them. You desperately desire to be the kind of person who makes a habit of washing every dish as it is dirtied, so that tackling the sink never becomes An Event. But you are not there yet, and in the meantime there is no horror like the existential horror of catching a glimpse of your sink out of the corner of your eye as you pace the length of your stifling apartment.
Your sink is an uncharted cave system. There are pools of sun-warmed water trapped between stacked bowls that have begun to sustain life. There are tea stains and crusted forks and steak drippings that have congealed and melted and recongealed in the hot afternoons and the freezing nights. And you are not up to the task.
And if you did wash them today, tonight you would dirty another plate, and tomorrow a mug, and then a salad bowl and three spoons, and the task would face you again. The task is tireless and the task renews itself like Antaeus in the fresh glory of each new dawn. And you are not as young as you once were and you do not have it in you to stand over your sink. You need to feed yourself as the men of Jerubaal who was also called Gideon, separated from those who kneel to drink, the men who lap the water as a dog laps, putting their hands to their mouths.
Come here, my spring-eyed love. I know. I know. I will provide.
Recipes For A Dirty Sink
Hand Salad – The Hand Salad is so-called for two reasons; firstly because you will eat it with your hands, forks being scarce at the present time, and secondly because you will use your hand as a cutting board, since your cutting board is currently trapped underneath every dish you have.
The best fruits and vegetables to use in a hand salad are soft enough that you can slice through them very slowly and begin pulling them through the blade at the very end so that you do not chop into your own palm. Mango is good, as is pre-cut broccoli slaw. Put sunflower seeds in it and some green onions (slice the green onions by pushing the knife lengthwise through them once, then carefully slicing them over the bowl two at a time. You will cut yourself). Maybe put some cucumber in there, because it’s easy to cut through cucumber without slicing yourself. Pour a bit of apple cider vinegar and olive oil over the whole thing. If you keep the chunks big enough, you could probably eat this with a spoon. I don’t know. I’m out of clean spoons.
Eat this at your table, surrounded by clean laundry. Bring an extra paper towel to wipe your salad-eating hand clean with in case the phone rings (it will ring).
Protein Shake Stirred With Butcher Knife – If you have any mugs left you’ve only used for tea and not coffee (you can reuse a tea mug up to five times before it starts to smell weird; not so with coffee), go with that. Otherwise go down to your car and hunt for the old Camelbak you stole from the marketing closet at your old work a few years ago. It smells weird, but whatever.
If you only have water, put water in it. If you have almond milk and also some heavy cream, use that. That tastes pretty good. Put in a lot of protein powder. If you have any ice you can put some ice in it but your ice trays are probably empty. Shake it very very hard with the lid on.
Take a sip. Is it still full of clumps? Yes. Wipe off the butcher knife from your hand salad and try to froth things up (take the lid off for that part). Just finish it. It’s too hot to make any more food.
Steak You Change Your Mind About – Pull a really expensive ribeye that you bought at the good meat market a few days ago out so it can come to room temperature before you cook it.
After twenty minutes, put it back in the fridge. Eat it tomorrow.
Fridge Avocado – You should have put this in the hand salad, but you didn’t think to. Push through the top of it with your thumb and peel off as much of the crimply green skin as you can. Eat as much of it as you can stand without gagging. It’s cold and awful and smells faintly of nail varnish because you should have eaten it three days ago. Throw it away, but not in your garbage can; it will smell. Take it down the hall and throw it down the garbage chute. Hate everything.
Salami Stick – This cost nine dollars at a Basque specialty goods grocery store. It’s beef jerky, and it’s cold, and it’s been rolling around in your fridge for a month. Take a bite out of it. Take it to bed with you and get some work done. Try another bite after it comes to room temperature. Revisit it periodically over the course of the next few days. It will improve with time, and there will be no crumbs, and no need for utensils.
Looking/Dissatisfaction – Open the fridge. Sink to your heels, like a posed Neanderthal in an anthropology museum. Look at everything for as long as you want to. Do nothing.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.