I URGE YOU AMERICA: DO THE DISHES / by Justin Warren

I’m not proud of it, but sometimes the mere thought of doing the dishes makes me shudder with unease.

I could be enjoying my favorite physical activity -- devouring a 12 oz ribeye steak -- and if anyone so much as utters a word that rhymes with “dishes,” I’ll stop mid-chew, push away from the table, break into a cold sweat, and stare off into the void.

It’s worth repeating: I’m not proud of this.

In an age where our civil liberties are under assault, nuclear weapons are proliferating in militant countries, and the Backstreet Boys are touring again, “doing the dishes” is, without a doubt, a first-world problem. But hear me out!

It all started last year, while I was away in Arkansas directing my first feature film, Then There Was Joe. While I was not around to argue, my wife seized the opportunity to move us from downtown Los Angeles to the suburbs. I’m fortunate because the place is really nice-- two bedroom, marble countertops, crown molding. Everything you could want in an apartment. But when I discovered there was NO DISHWASHER, I slowly lowered myself to my knees, raised open palms to the sky, and wept. Bitterly. Snot-sicles forming in my uneven beard, I shrieked, “Landlord, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Over the next few days (confession: it was a year), I stumbled around in a daze, staring at the sink, as an Everest-sized pile of dishes stretched into the sky. I thought, surely my sweet parents will be arriving any minute now, on a red-eye from Arkansas to take care of those...right? Right!?!

I thought humanity solved this problem. Aren’t dishwashers guaranteed to all Americans in the Bill of Rights? One with high temperature wash and air dry settings? What the hell are our politicians even doing in Washington?!

As the dishes continued to procreate like porcelain rabbits, I started to notice my home life was coming apart at the seams. My lack of action was building a gulf in my marriage-- and it was all my fault. Reality smacked me: I suddenly realized I was being a big baby. By“reality,” what I mean is “my therapist”. I glanced at her notes when she wasn’t looking and saw scribbled in the corner:

“Possessed by an evil two-year-old. Recommended solutions: Exorcism. Or divine intervention.”

Real Talk: Just because you’re almost thirty, pay taxes, and somehow don’t die on the 110, despite a dangerous need to compulsively check Instagram while simultaneously piloting a two-ton hunk of metal, barreling through traffic at 75 miles per hour, does NOT mean you’re an adult.

I was operating under the flawed logic that one should wait until you had three or four days worth of those motherfuckers, and THEN do them all at once. More efficient that way. But, as I soon learned, they’re 365 million times harder to wash, ‘cause that old Sriracha sauce from last Tuesday has now petrified into a brand-new element on the Periodic Table capable of withstanding the most gnarly of impacts from Thor’s mighty hammer. Live by the dish, die by the dish.

I realized, as I waited for things to pile up, I was inviting procrastination into every aspect of my life: my marriage, my career, and even my spiritual life. So, I took one small step towards becoming an adult (or at least the competency of an eleven year old)-- I do the dishes immediately after I use them. Life has literally changed radically. It’s made me more mindful of clutter. I think more clearly. I’m more willing to jump in and get my hands dirty. I’ve stopped pretending that reality doesn’t exist. It has done wonders for my marriage!

So, America. Do. the. dishes.