Part of this wonderful journey of being a published author, is the generosity from other writers. Gail Maria Forrest is a clever, quick-witted, honesty-mongering, woman who writes the wildly entertaining and insightful blog gonepausal . It’s my great pleasure to welcome her to THESE HERE HILLS, and to share her essay with you…about when to draw the line in a relationship that just ISN’T working. Some relationships are meant to end, and this one clearly was one of them. Thanks for writing from the trenches, Gail. Please feel free to comment here. Gail will be around to respond…yrs. Laura
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The Dishwasher : This was not the story it was supposed to be.
I am not a domestic diva. My Mother always thought my inability or refusal to learn how to set the table would prevent me from getting married. She also mentioned my messy table manners. “Mom,” I would whine, leave me alone, that has nothing to do with a man liking me or not.” Was Mom psychic?
I had two husbands, I showed Mom. Neither one of them ever mentioned my lack of domestic skills. They had better things to do than monitor my household acumen; we also had a cleaning woman which took the pressure off. For reasons other than table setting and manners those marriages fizzled into divorce. Call them bad timing for this girl who was still seeking independence and couldn’t figure out how to combine that with marriage. In hindsight I would marry them both again. Don’t tell my Mom or she would never stop saying “I told you so.”
When I met Jake I had been a private art dealer for 18 years. The first 15 were very successful and I loved the freedom of working for myself along with making lots of money. I could afford cleaning help so I never did have to fine tune my domestic skills. It is important to know that I never turned on my dishwasher because I never loaded it. After my son went off to college it was just me, my take-out food, and a few dishes. I had zillions of them after two marriages but truthfully just used a plate, a coffee mug, and a wine glass. I ate and washed them by hand. It was quick and easy. I never gave a dishwasher another thought.
I swear on a stack of bibles you do not really know about someone until you live with them. Heed this advice or forever cease bitching and moaning about how he/she changed. No one changes. Ha! When I moved in my business had been dropping off due to 9/11 and the demise of the economy. I was unfortunately in a weakened financial position so living with him was certainly going to help me out. I could save or at least not bleed money. This was not a good plan. If I had thought I could make the drinks at Starbucks I would have been better off saying “Welcome to Starbucks may I take your twisted and unnecessarily complicated order?” I had every intention of making our relationship work however. It was time and I was ready. Nothing could stand in my way.
“Gail,” Jake said sternly as we stood side by side in front of the dishwasher one afternoon. He had summoned me to the kitchen. He opened the door and slowly pulled out the racks. I had no idea what was on his mind but thought the dishes looked clean. He pointed to the silverware. Oh no, oh no I hoped he wasn’t going to ask me to set the table; I was doomed. The placement of the fork, spoon, knife and napkin raced through my head and I couldn’t remember which side was for which utensil. Curses!
“Gail, he repeated as I stood there a little antsy and bored. Do you know there is a correct way to load the dishes and silverware?” Huh? is the bubble over my head “ I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but time after time I go to unload the dishes and can’t believe what you’ve done.” I wanted to burst out laughing but saw how serious he was. “Do you know what happens when you haphazardly put things in it?” Uh oh, a pop quiz. Damn, I hated those.
“No, I don’t know exactly what happens, but I know I put the dishes in the dishwasher to clean them.” That had to be the right answer.
“No, there happens to be a right way to place them. Haven’t you noticed how I do it?” I shook my head in response to his question and in disbelief that he actually asked the question.
“YOU, put all the silverware in the front, and when you do that it doesn’t get clean. You have to spread it to the back holders, that way the machine works more efficiently. And the wine glasses can’t just go in anywhere. They need to be up here.” As he continued to re-arrange the dishwasher I stopped listening. What was this high school home ec class? I wanted to yell “big fucking deal” but didn’t. He had a bad temper and I had a failing business. Against every voice in my head I kept quiet.
There are straws that break the backs of even the strongest camels. I always thought of myself as a big brave Dromedary yet I was weakening with every chore and appliance. Each lecture whether in front of the dryer where I was reprimanded for not cleaning the lint filter after each load.
“Do you realize you could set the house on fire?”
To the utensil drawer,
“Why are you putting the shorter forks with the longer ones? That’s not how they go. Why can’t you care about this and pay attention when you put them away?”
Onward to the sink,
“There are two different sponges to wipe off the counter Gail, you’re using the wrong one again!”
I had been re-defined and re-evaluated by appliances. I failed “Dishwasher 101 and Intro to Chores.” Ironically another relationship was down the drain. He was right I didn’t care about the sponges, forks, lint filters, or ill placed wine glasses. I’m proudly not a domestic diva and maybe Mom was prophetic- one man didn’t like me as a result. I can’t set a table or load a dishwasher correctly but thankfully I remembered how to pack my clothes. I am happily much more than the sum of my domestic skills.
Now where’s my plate?
I’m cheap, hate to shop (see above photo– that’s me being pushed into a store) and have anxiety about driving more than 100 miles alone. None of these traits are genetic; I developed them all by myself. I can’t order a $10 glass of wine without getting a small rash. Unfortunately it is becoming increasing difficult to find a nice Sauvignon Blanc for less, which makes me sad and I’m afraid I’ll have to switch to beer. I love to ride horses, except when the jumps get too big, but now in my older years I just burst into tears and beg my trainer to make them lower. I’m a runner but can’t take one step without music, so I always carry extra batteries for my walkman….no, I don’t have an iPod….remember I’m cheap. I love my beefy boy Yellow Lab “Elliot” aka “Potato” although this is slightly hard on my ego as he is far more attractive than I am and gets all the attention everywhere we go. I also complain a lot about the weather which is why every winter I leave freezing cold Chicago where I live and head for Palm Springs, CA to warm up and rip off my North Face Parka.
I started www.gonepausal.com four years ago as a way to rant and rave. I noticed all of my girlfriends were doing the same thing. We were “testy, snarky, and no longer took direction well. Our tolerance levels were dropping as fast as our hormone levels. No thoughts were sacred or private as we blurted out tales of our diminishing sex drive. Desiring sex came right after laundry, cleaning the bathroom and eating ice cream out of the container. I couldn’t resist the urge to write about our new peri and menopausal lives. I am also pleased to be a woman’s web-site that has allotted a section for men to bitch and moan about their menopausal women called “The Men’s Room.” Yes, I’m an equal opportunity pausal employer. Along with gonepausal I now am on a new internet radio show called “YAK” www.herewomentalk.com the Zeuss Radio Network. It’s a weekly show about “everything” that comes to mind which runs the gamut from stripping as exercise to my disastrous internet dates. In the end I want to thank my Mother for telling me I should write a blog when she didn’t even know what that meant. Thanks Mom for www.gonepausal.com !