When I arrived, I found dirty dishes piled in a precarious heap in the sink. This wasn’t just a few cereal bowls left to soak before a busy day at the office. Evidence of many meals consumed lay buried in the strata of plates, glasses and cutlery.
At that time in my life, I felt about as domesticated as a she-wolf at a hen party and would just as soon gnaw my right leg from the perpetual trap that is housework than pick up a dish rag, but we were about to prepare a meal and clearly, this young couple needed help. I offered to wash up.
“No!” said the wife. “It’s his turn.”
“Fine,” said the husband. “You win! It’s my turn today. Oh, look here! I’ve found a substitute!”
“No fair!” said the wife.
“What do you mean, ‘No fair.’ What do you care who does the dishes,” the husband taunted, “just so long as you don’t?”
You know that scene in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” when the audience gets all twitchy nervous with the bickering on stage? It was like that only without a stage.
I was not all that surprised when a few years later, the couple divorced. Those stubbornly unclean dishes were an obvious metaphor for their domestic troubles; the red wheel barrow on which so much depended.
A spanking new, fancy-pants, dishwasher could have saved their marriage.
OK, probably not.
Lately, I’ve been poring over home appliances the way I used to covet clothes. The high-end designer labels such as KitchenAid (pictured) or Bosch or the tried-and-true top producers including Kenmore and GE or Whirlpool. It has to be energy efficient, quiet and, of course, do a good job. If I have to run a dishwasher twice to get the gunk off the plates, it’s not really energy efficient no matter what the rating. But I am a sucker for a pretty appliance. With so many rating systems available online such as Best Dishwashers of 2012 or Dishwasher Review, and consumer reviews like Yelp that often seem to devolve into snark sessions, or supposedly independent blogs that are actually cleverly disguised ads, it’s hard to know who to trust. Spending the cash to subscribe to Consumer Reports would save a bundle of time.
How do you make decisions when spending big bucks on major appliances? Do you rely on the sales help or ratings of retailers? Go with the recommendations of your trusted remodeler? Word of mouth? Flip a coin? Make an offering to the appliance gods and hope for the best?
Because, you know, that new dishwasher just could save your marriage.
Or at least shift the argument to the dirty laundry piling up in the corner.
Vivian McInerny is the managing editor for Oregon Home. You can reach her at [email protected].