Randall loved to wash the dishes, and he washed them quite particularly.
He fell in love with dish-washing during the two years he had lived with a girlfriend. Lydia was a kind person, but not altogether substantive, to Randall. Where he loved concerts, she loved to sit at home watching reality television. Where he wanted to try the new Ethiopian place, she preferred to eat at the Burger King. Where he wanted friends, she wanted him to devote himself wholly and entirely to her.
Dishes became his only solitude. She would still be in the room, clicking between programs, but he could have his thoughts to himself. Dishes and his morning shower were Randall’s only times to himself, and the shower wasn’t long enough. He washed extra slowly, just to get a bit more time.
The first time they broke up, Lydia had demanded the reason. Not wanting to hurt her any more than he had, he settled on chores; she never helped with the dishes, or the cleaning, or anything, he told her. She had sobbed, and said she would work on it, improve, do more and better. Randall capitulated, and they stayed together for eight more months.
Finally, he worked up his courage and ended it, giving no reasons beyond their differing mentalities. He packed his things, put them in his car, and drove to his new apartment.
Now he lived on his own, did what he liked, had all the quiet he could want, but whether it was Pavlovian training or a deep-seated psychological love of cleanliness, the dishes were still Randall’s favourite thing to do. He washed and washed and smiled quietly to himself.