Everyday Artists

The world's greatest artists walk you through simple, everyday tasks.

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If you join me now on this quest to cleanliness, join knowing that it has been this desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom in the sink basin. But to stare upon it any longer, I shall lose myself to something I cannot see, and I tell you the same, it is best now to do what we have so long feared to do—begin.

It commences with a single plate or bowl. I would not think this necessary to state, but I have great faith in fools. I will add that, in the art of cleanliness, you should believe nothing you see, and only half of what you feel, and that applies doubly here where my hands believe themselves more powerful than they are, while I fear they aren’t.

Take, for instance, this plate. Smudged the blackest night of baked black bean residue, but the water washes it away with a simple wisping. Believe it not! Underneath that which seems clean, there are rumples and bumples that would otherwise elude the naked eye. Rub your finger and marvel at the unforgiving crusty you’d have missed with your untrained eyeballs. Which is why we are together today. To train your eyeballs in the discerning of the deceptive that you may not be tell-tale hearted by your glassware.

Food wants to live again. It wants to be restored to its rightful form that you so cruelly denied it, you vicious heathen. And when it reaches from the grave, grasping, gripping like a knave, Kick it, stick it, in the ground from whence it came. Hear its whisper—“This is no game.” Feel its tendrils creeping, reaping, fresh upon your shoulder reaching, for the soul within your core, as you do this awful chore.

Forgive me. Madness claims me in fits of awful quiet. Let us turn now to this ceramic plate. Consider the circular scrubbing pattern, the sponge saturated as the floorboards with the blood of Master Nurnberg, esquire. You probably don’t know him. He bled a lot. Suds up! When the gristle clings to the bone, push harder. Grunt when necessary, there are no judges here but the eternal eyes of the dominant one. Pay him no heed, he’s never done dishes a day in his life.

When the hands wrinkle and the bones cower, remember only that to never suffer this filth would never to have been blessed with shine.

Beware! There are everyday imps that darken the fluffy white suds with their ferocious indecency. Soap has no power to impress the plate without the exquisite horror of peanut butter, life’s filthiest leech, clung to plates and spoons, and unfathomably, the salad spinner too. Crush its demystified soul into the drain and revel in its fall, as monumental as that of the House of Usher and as undeniable newsworthy. But take heed that it may rise again, should you push too much of its basest brethren into the drain. Should back-ups occur, enlist the help of my dear friend and ally, Drain-O, without whom I would have drowned in the secondhand souls of zoodles and yams, the prickliest ethers of the bunch, and the least likely to go quietly into the drainage system.

Truly, these dishes have been ignored for days, but such ignorance has evolved into fraud, fear, greed. Now the sins which Ajax Ultra Degreaser combats goes beyond microwave-crusted cheese shreds. It has become that which we fear most and as I stare into the bubbles that have consumed my gloved hands, voices come to me from within the suds, from within the confines of this chore, voices wandering, worried, voices crying out “still more!”

Voices whispering, voices weary, long I’ve stood here, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before. Now the silence is unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, and the only words there spoken were my whispered words, “no more.”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, “Still more!” Merely this, and nothing more.

The echo hits me, truly gets me, wraps around my conscious chilling, willing me to stay forever, in this kitchen weak and severed from the world outside my doors.

Quoth the dishes—“Still, we’re more.”

In your madness, be you scrubbing, soaking, circling, rubba-a-dub-dubbing. When your arms grow frail and shaking, every inch soaked wet and quaking, that is when you turn within you, seek the fire ne’er found before.

That is when you say again—No more. Not by defiance or annoyance, but by completion of this loathed chore. Trust your madness, meekly, mildly, turn to valor and wash the bubbles down. The emptiness now meets you, greets you, grips you by the collar and beats you twice upon the head to teach you, you have done this awful chore. Once vile and mucked, now free of gore. Quoth my own damn self—Nevermore.