Column: Gray purchase not the sort to garner respect among women

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

You have to realize that at that point in my life I had no dishwasher. Nor any desire for a dishwasher.

It wasn’t that I rushed to my dirty dishes on tiptoes of joy. I met a lovely lady in Mississippi once who told me that after entertaining guests one of the brightest spots of the evening for her was washing her dishes.

I didn’t think she was a wuss. A trifle insane, perhaps, but in a beautiful way.

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I wanted to be like her and made an effort toward that goal. It didn’t work. I liked to cook and I liked company, lots of company. I had lots of company. I was glad to see them come, but some of them I was also glad to see go. The quicker the better.

I’m speaking now of the would-be examples. I doubt if there’s a woman reading this column who doesn’t know what I mean. There are women who may or may not be, in their own homes, superb housekeepers. And believe me they’re eager to prove it.

They practically snatch the dishes off the table when the meal is finished and chanting obscenities like, “Oh, let’s get these washed and put away so you won’t have to worry about them tomorrow.”

I don’t want to be washing dishes while I have guests. I can hear them in the living room laughing and talking. I want to be with them hearing what they’re talking about and what they’re laughing about.

My mother, who for different reasons wanted to be alone in her kitchen, used to hand out the copies of a little poem clipped from a newspaper.

It began, “Please stay out of my kitchen,” and ended, “So stay out of my kitchen and I’ll stay out

of yours.”

I thought I’d go for something more subtle and, of course, wound up strengthening my reputation as a character beyond all hope of restoration.

Method and system would save me, I decided. Women decided to help me because I always come across looking fluffy. I often eat at a restaurant and notice those plastic containers that used dishes are placed in before being washed.

Surely one of those would solve my problem. They were not to be purchased in Albert Lea I learned, but they were sold in restaurant stores in the Twin Cities.

Fortunately, Minnesota Press Women were holding a meeting in St. Paul about that time. It started in the evening, but most of us got there early and shopped until time to get ready for the meeting.

I was the first one there. Looking in the telephone directory I found the sort of store I was looking for. It was within walking distance from the hotel, but it was a long, hot difficult walk. Moreover it was a wholesale store. Intent on my mission I didn’t quite understand that.

Still I was able to obtain a beautiful gray container for my unwashed dishes. It was rather heavy considering the long and rugged walk back to the hotel. It was a hot fall day. I didn’t go at once to my room, but carried my purchase to the room set aside for Press Women, had a Coke and some peanuts and fully triumphant, waited for the other women.

Gradually they drifted in, from all over Minnesota, most of them loaded with packages. Most of us were well acquainted. So presently some of them began opening their packages to share their joy with their friends.

They had marvelous things. At this late date I don’t remember all of them. I do remember a mink stole and one of the women had found a christening robe embroidered by nuns in Belgian or some such place. She was expecting her first grandchild and was delighted with her find.

I tried to lie down on my purchase, but they demanded an immediate glimpse. I pulled out my beautiful gray whatever, slowly. Everyone had been laughing and talking until it emerged. Now there was the most complete silence. Then everyone broke into loud, uncouth laughter.

I didn’t attempt to explain. It’s better not to. Everyone wanted to sit next to me that night. Curiosity is a great advantage if you’re covering the news.

(Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column runs Thursday.)