Gather 'round, children, and learn an important lesson

Gather ’round, kids.  I say “kids” because there are some messages/lessons adults simply don’t need, like don’t put your hand on a hot stove or it will hurt like a son of a bitch.  This is such a lesson.  No adult should need to be told this.

Uncle JT is going to teach you something that will make your life better until you’re racing walkers instead of big wheels.  Trust me, if the Hebrews had any idea that their book would influence anybody else in the world, they would’ve nixed Leviticus and put these perfectly-obvious-to- anybody-older-than-four droplets of wisdom in there.

When you use a dish, wash the fucking dish.  It turns out that leaving your dish on the counter for months at a time doesn’t make it any cleaner.  In fact, your dish will begin to form an impenetrable shell.  Awesome if you need to use your plate as a shield, not awesome if you ever want to eat off of it again.

Now, you may be content eating nothing but peanut butter out of the jar with your grubby little fingers because every piece of cookware in the house is now part of a towering, fetid monument to your sloth, but when you grow up, in order to make ends meet, you’ll likely have roommates.  Roommates are other people who also live in the house (and who also use the cutlery), and who may or may not share your appreciation for existing in conditions reminiscent of sleeping in a landfill.

They may also want to cook things every now and again.  During these times, they might get aggravated that someone has made all the dishes they recently washed dirty, and so, by no fault of their own, there are no pots or pans for them to use.  I say “aggravated” in the same way George Bush made me “aggravated.”  So to keep the people you live with from having to actively resist the urge to terminate your miserable existence while you sleep, you should probably wash the dishes you use.  In the adult world we call this “not being a dick.”  You have a long life ahead of you full of flowers and ponies.  Don’t risk it because you’re too lazy to spend 30 seconds rinsing the milk out of your god damn bowl.

I bring this up because I now live with my dear, sweet friend, Cambridge.  Cambridge is to roommates what Greta Christina is to, well, life: i.e. the best at everything.  She and I both wash dishes when we’re done with them.  I never thought such minimal competence could be shared between two people in the same house, but ‘lo, I’ve found it.  Kids, sometimes when a man loves a roommate very, very much, they allow them to live at night.  And you want that when you’re older, right?

Cambridge, will you roommate marry me?

(Pics of mystery pile meal #1 coming soon)

PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
You guys are wonderful.
Update and pics from #AACon15. MST3K cast members were at my talk.
PERSONAL: Sorry to disappoint you, Julian.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • https://twitter.com/PandyFacklering Cambridge

    Oh my god.


    YES, JT! I WILL roommate marry you!

    Is it too low-class to register for wedding gifts at Taco Bell?

    • Makoto

      Is it wrong that my first thought was a registry with items like:
      Taco Bell Fire Sauce (47 of 150 remaining)
      Taco Bell Mild Sauce (8 of 10 remaining)

      • https://twitter.com/PandyFacklering Cambridge

        How could that possibly be wrong?

  • IslandBrewer

    Ok, so … you both wash the dish.

    In order to prompt this post, there must have been, at some point, one who did not wash the dish.

    Will you name names? Will you doc drop on the non-washer of the dish? Does this require the revelation of secret back-channel private information?

    Who, pray tell, deserves such scorn? Or mayhap, they merely need a shield, and you have misjudgified them?

    • http://www.facebook.com/lezkimo suzysalaksartok

      You’re just leaping to conclusions so you can have someone you can hate, just like a bully. Unless JT called the cops to report the non-dishwasher, supplying them with video evidence of the offender not washing dishes, a signed confession by that person, and at least 3 witnesses (PROPER witnesses), then I don’t believe there was ever a so called ‘non-dishwasher’.

      • doubtthat

        Plus, sometimes dishes don’t get washed cause they’re sitting there all ceramic and lathered up in soy sauce…a dish like that just doesn’t want to be washed. It’s not asking to be put away, if you know what I mean.

        If a dish wants to be cleaned it can have a couple of toast crums on it like a good, god-fearing plate should.

  • John Horstman

    Also, it turns out that if you wash the dish right away, it’s hella easy and takes like fifteen seconds, versus minutes of dedicated scrubbing following hours of soaking if you wait a week. There does exist an empirically-superior system for handling dishes; good skepticism demands you adopt it. :-)

    • Lyfa

      Mainly this.

  • Ganner

    I used to share an apartment with two other guys. Roommate #1 and I almost always washed our dishes immediately after eating, and always within 24 hours (hey, we were college students who sometimes got drunk and passed out before cleaning our stuff). Roommate #2 would let days of dishes stack up to the point that he’d forgotten what was his and when we’d tell him to clean his shit, he’d deny that half of it was his. It just got infuriating.

    • tubi

      Since we’re sharing, I too, when in college, lived with three roommates. Three of us were as Ganner describes-fairly reliable about keeping the kitchen clean, as reliable as three borderline alcoholic 20 year olds can be. Rommate #4 was the opposite of reliable. Never washed a dish, that I saw, in the year we all shared a place.

      So one day, the three good rommates decided to see how long we could go without washing up, so maybe he’d get a hint. For about 10 days, none of us washed a thing. There were stacks of used skillets and other pans covering all four burners. The double sink was filled and overflowing onto the counters. Still nothing. Finally, when I was eating Cheerios out of a bundt pan using a set of measuring spoons, because there were no other clean containers or utensils, we realized it was just never going to happen. Oh well.

      I’ll make sure my kids are more like me, I promise.

    • Anonymous Atheist

      Sounds like color-coded dishes would help. ;)

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    Awesome if you need to use your plate as a shield, not awesome if you ever want to eat off of it again.

    I know somebody who uses a dinner plate as a shield. Also a corset as a parrying device.

    I was considering waiting for a plate to become encrusted enough to use as a buckler, but then a friend agreed to make me one out of wood and canvas, which sounds much less unpleasant.

  • eric

    Its a shame that money and culture tend to combine to make most of us get rommates early in adulthood, then move on later to living on our own. Doing it the other way around would likely make most of us better roomates.

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    My first solution to this dilemma was to live alone. I hated every part of having roommates so I just got a place to myself. Yeah, it was tiny (really tiny) cause that’s all I could afford, but at least I only had my own mess to deal with. Unfortunately, that meant I still had to deal with the dishes eventually.

    My current solution is a dishwasher. Its a fascinating piece of technology, I put the dirty dish in there instead of the counter, and it washes it for me! Marvelous, I don’t know how I lived without it.

    Also, I discovered that there are people you can pay to come clean your house for you. Every two months or so, a couple of nice women show up and scrub the kitchen and bathroom for me. Its not cheap, true, but it beats cleaning the place myself after 13-14 hours at work.

  • shouldbeworking

    My teenaged daughters ne’er put anything inte dishwasher. When asked one day, te eldest ( a university student) replied that e didn’t know ifte dishwasher was empty. Her mom thought that was a logical response.

    • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

      If you’re living with one of those insufferable people who insists on more-or-less hand-washing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher “to sanitize them” that’s actually not completely unreasonable – it’s difficult to tell if the rack 3/4 full of slightly damp but seemingly clean dishes have been run through yet.


  • fastlane

    I had a non-dishwashing roommate. Eventually, I just kept a set of pots/pans/dishes in my room. I still often had to clean up after him, just in order to use the kitchen, but the one time the other roommate and I staged an ‘intervention’ was pretty fun.

    …we piled all the dirty dishes on the middle of non-dishwashing roommates bed, cleaned the kitchen, and told non-dishwashing roommate he wasn’t allowed in the kitchen unless he cleaned everything on his bed, and after using any utensil. It worked for about a month.

  • http://natehevens.wordpress.com NateHevens

    You’d love my parents. I was raised that you clean what you use, no exceptions.

    Of course… then we got the all mighty dishwasher, and the convenience of just throwing the dirty stuff in there was magic. Emptying it sucked, though.

    But you have to understand… my parents are Jewish. So when we emptied the dishwasher or cleaned dishes or whatever, we had to know what was meat, what was dairy, and where they belonged in the kitchen.

    I don’t keep Kosher, so this is no longer a problem, but a clean kitchen is still a must… especially since I love to cook (and bake, and fry, and grill). I can do that without clean stuff to use…

    • http://natehevens.wordpress.com NateHevens

      Actually, I can’t do that without clean stuff to use…

      Also, I apparently can’t spell…

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Maybe I shouldn’t open a can of worms, but I have to ask…..
    When one lives with a roomie who won’t wash a dish that they have eaten out of, how do you convince them to wash a toilet and sink that everyone uses?

  • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

    Since we’re sharing…

    The one time I ever had a roommate was when my ex-wife and I had first her sister, and then later her cousin, living with us when we were renting a house since there weren’t any apartments in the local service area of the school we wanted our daughter in. The sister wasn’t too bad; the cousin had, among other things, a problem with assuming he was entitled to any amount he wanted of anything that was in the refrigerator, even tupperware lunches I packed myself to take to work. He also plugged the toilet in the bathroom adjacent to his room semi-frequently and tried to blame it on our daughter, and very rarely cleaned up the hair mess he left on the sink after shaving.

    My ex, on the other hand, rarely cleaned things except in random bursts (at 3-4 month intervals, generally), and habitually let trash (especially used kleenexes) fall wherever she happened to be. I hadn’t learned much about housekeeping before moving out, was working nearly to more than full-time and taking 6-12 units of classes, and while my ex occasionally complained about my not helping out, when I would try she acted resentful and as though I was intruding on her territory, especially when I asked for guidance on chemical-cleaning tasks rather than simply picking things up. At one point we actually had a bag of garbage in the mess on the floor in our bedroom that she’d left in the middle of a drinking episode, I guess, in which flies that got in through the front door laid eggs and in which a generation of new flies hatched and grew to adulthood, of which I killed about ten before I realized what had happened.

    (After we separated, she emphasized her vulnerability as a “displaced ‘homemaker’” when leaning on me for ever more money.)

    I get kind of lonely and having some actual HELP would be good, but my daughter and I are each occupying one of the two bedrooms and I can see so many ways having a roommate could go badly. Maybe I should have an application exam with a practical portion for anyone I try to live with in the future. >.>

  • ah58

    Dude, all i can say is, paper plates rule! That is all.

  • maddog1129

    Here is something that I never realized myself until someone else spelled it out for me (maybe 10 years ago): “They” always say to wash the dishes immediately, but “they” never explain how that happens. Then, one day, on some cooking show or other, the host said, “The first step when beginning to cook, is to fill up the sink with hot, soapy water.” Bang! The light went on! THAT’s how they do it “immediately”!

  • procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

    Simple system for clean/dirty dishwasher: If the soap container is open, the dishes are clean. If it’s closed, the dishes are dirty. Requires you to fill the soap container as soon as the clean dishes are removed.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      My roommate and I have an even simpler system. Our dishwasher has a lock to keep it sealed when it’s running. Just a simple arm. If the dishwasher is locked, it’s clean. If it’s unlocked, it’s dirty.