I mean no disrespect for the choices of others, and I’m not casting nasturtiums or anything, but when I go into someone else’s kitchen to wash the dishes, and there’s no sponge, I fall into a kind of petite despair. My practical contributions to the world are few. I don’t cook. When I say “Can I help you?” while you’re cooking me dinner, and you assign me the simplest task, like chopping vegetables, I’m going to ask you ten questions about size and shape and then labor away with a pitiful sawing motion until you take over the job yourself. I’d much rather do the dishes afterwards.
But then I approach the sink. Oh no, I think. A dishrag person. There’s a sad, limp little dishrag hanging on the faucet and no sponge anywhere. It looks like something Cinderella’s stepmother made her use. It becomes slimy with goo almost immediately if it wasn’t already. I drag it around inside a pot with the conviction that I have merely disrupted the most evident deposits and left behind a uniform veneer of thin sludge. What I want is a nice, hand-sized cellulose sponge with a scrubby pad on the back. I’m going to put on a dot of detergent and tear into that crusty stuff with the scrubby side and rinse with water hot enough to blister a rhino. Cleaning dishes with a droopy dishrag is like mowing the lawn with a rough blanket.
At the same time I’m aware that dishrag people feel very strongly about their sorry little schmatta. Otherwise, surely, they’d use a sponge. I decided to post a simple query on my Facebook page and see what developed: Dishrag, or Sponge?
We’ll set aside Susan Ellis’s answer for the moment (“husband”).
Responses were pretty evenly divided. Sponges had their adherents. But the dishrag people were adamant that we sponge people were purveyors of the Plague. When they go into a house and see a sponge on the sink, they are persuaded that every surface is covered with a film of poop molecules. They will realize they have entered a fecally enhanced atmosphere, a dun-colored haze, primed by a miasma of coliform bacteria billowing from the kitchen. “A kitchen sponge renders the kitchen ten billion times more bacteria-laden than a toilet seat,” the experts intone, somberly.
This, in spite of the fact that I have hardly ever used my dish sponge to wipe my butt, particularly the scrubby side. And I would further submit that they have no idea what I can do to a bathroom when I’m good and charged up.
Well. What is required is the stockpiling of clean dishrags, each one of which must be dunked in bleach, sent through a scalding laundry and dried crisp after each use. Then, to be on the safe side, they should be spoken to sternly, and set on fire. There’s nothing to be done with a sponge. They should be prevented from entering the country with a wall and concertina wire.
I’m not changing anything. I read up. Actually, the experts say dishrags and sponges are equally culpable. I’m going back to my usual lifetime strategy of deliberate ignorance. I’ve been smearing bacteria around my kitchen for forty years and remain in the pink of health. If I’m not worried about my sponge, it can’t hurt me. As soon as I learn the nature of the catastrophe that awaits me, I’ll develop eighteen different kinds of nervous disease. Besides, I’m not a bit scared of coliform bacteria.
In fact, I’m packin’.