tagReviews & EssaysDoing the Dishes

Doing the Dishes


"And yet, girls sometimes form a habit of handling their sexual organs because they find a certain pleasure in so doing. Maybe they have never known that it is wrong, but usually they are ashamed of it, and as they go alone to practice this habit, it is called the habit of solitary vice... it causes a great many backaches and sideaches and other aches, tenderness of the spine, nervousness, indolence, pale cheeks, hollow eyes and a languid manner... we can almost always tell when a girl begins this habit of solitary vice, or self-abuse, as it is sometimes called, for she will suddenly decline in health and change in disposition. Instead of being happy, obliging, gentle and kind, she will very soon become peevish, irritable, morose and disobedient... She may become bold in her manner instead of being modest, as a girl should be."

from _What a Young Girl Ought to Know_

Published in 1897, by Mrs. Mary Wood-Allen, MD


Mrs. Wood-Allen, MD goes on to recommend righteous and diligent activities to avert the mind from evil thoughts and preoccupation with unwholesome ideas: "A little housework is a very good occupation, and girls can learn to do these homely duties with pleasure... Dishwashing is especially beneficial, as the hot water calls the blood to the hands and so helps to relieve the headache or backache."

Oh, Mrs. Wood-Allen, MD, there are some things you should know...

Washing the dishes is a little space away from other people. No one really wants to help; everyone is glad you're doing them so they leave you alone. You can have a tantrum, make a decision, cry into the dishwater and splash so no one notices. And you can have your own thoughts, all to yourself. Within the quiet of a mindless task you can let yourself drift away on ideas as you stare out the kitchen window, as you plunge your hands into the warm water...

Haven't you noticed, Mrs. Wood-Allen MD, how Mr. Wood-Allen MD can't seem to leave you alone when your wholesome and upright body is bending over the sink, and your hair is disordered from the steam? Have you pushed him away, laughingly or sternly, when he comes up behind you and embraces you there, while your arms are trapped in the soapy water? Or does he watch the maid instead, as unselfconsciously she loosens her apron, unbuttons her collar, bends over the sink so that her sweet, rounded buttocks are perfectly posed...

It's no surprise, this attraction we all seem to have to a woman doing dishes. She is a woman intent, a woman thinking her own thoughts, a woman unconscious of being watched. Her round hips sway and shift rhythmically; she brushes tendrils of hair from her moist forehead. Like a woman aroused, she is slightly breathless, her skin flushed, warm and glowing with faint sweat. Perhaps her mouth is slightly open, her eyes relaxed, half-closed. She bites her lip, distracted. The muscles of her shoulders and arms shift beneath her blouse; perhaps it slips a bit off one shoulder and the curve of her warm neck is exposed.

Haven't we all noticed that there is something about a woman, bare arms deep in warm water and foam, her face raw, flushed and intent, that draws us forward, makes us want to embrace from behind, lift a skirt, reach around to cup a round breast... How we hope a button has come undone, random chance or distraction has opened the neck of the blouse so that the gentle and mysterious curve of cleavage is visible, with its rosy glow, its faint sheen of perspiration...

No, it's no accident. She may think many things there in her private space at the sink, but at some point her mind will drift toward sex, toward the forbidden. Her face is turned away from the room; no one can hear her thoughts or see how her lips part a little further, how perhaps she smiles a little, perhaps she shifts from one leg to the other, arches her back, licks her lips...

And how to keep from thinking about it, with the task one does there. Your arms plunge into the water and warmth soaks through your torso. Your muscles begin to relax, and your mind calms, becomes quiet. You notice your body - first the aches, the leftover pains of the day, but then other sensations too - the warmth from the water, the steam filling your breath, the feel of silky bubbles on your forearms. The sight of your own bare skin, reddened from heat, reminds you... Damp skin, rosy from exertion, bodies sliding together like your hands and arms do now, slick from the water.

Warmth creeps to your torso, your thighs. You notice that you are shifting from foot to foot, letting your hips rock back and forth, swaying gently as dishes move through your hands. Your thighs are smooth and warm against one another. They shift and slide as you move, becoming moist, the steam rising from you now like it rises from the sink.

And what are you doing, after all? In a slow rhythm you are plunging your hands down into warmth, down into water. Everything is slippery - your hand finds a smooth surface, the roundness of a cup, slippery with foam. How easily it could be the curve of a breast, the round edge of a hip sliding under your hands. All this work with the hands - you run your palm over the slick surfaces, grip curves with slippery fingers.

Perhaps you splash water as you wash, and the counter is wet in front of you. You feel a heaviness, warm soapy water at your hips, soaking in at your crotch as you lean against the counter, the mound of your pubic bone pressed forward, rocking. Steam rolls up over your breasts, over your face, water drips across your belly and down to your thighs. Moisture disguises moisture, and you can blame it on the leaky sink or the sloshed cup.

Women make love with their hands. We remember the last time we were drawn down into our own bodies, how like that this is, plunging a bare wet finger or two into the mouth of a narrow jar, feeling the inner curve of a smooth wet glass. I plunge my slippery hand, my cloth into a cup, move it round, pull it out. I make things foamy, make them slicker and wetter. The wet glass must be gripped tightly but gently, to keep hold against the force of the water running down, filling it up.

Perhaps I rinse the small curve of a spoon or the rounded end of a knife, and think of my hands exploring other curves, other ovals, of the feeling of a stream of water moving over me, opening me up. The gentle water pours into the crescent, splashing up onto thighs - onto the sides of the smooth white sink.

It's a luxury, really, this time of private fantasy, this erotic island of steam in the middle of the day, with everyone right in the next room. Secrecy makes it that much sweeter, that much more dangerous - people all around, unaware that every dish I smooth my hand across is the sweaty back of a lover, the moist curve of a thigh foamy with semen or the nectar of a pussy made slick with friction. Every smooth handle of a knife is the rounded tip of my own rosebud... I rub my fingers across each one, foamy and slick, making sure they're clean. I grip the solid curves of tall glasses, slide my hand up and down, feeling their hardness, solid and slick under my hand. I stroke the thick handles of ladles and spatulas, up to my elbows in heat and foam.

Every dish is the memory of a lover, of some moment of sensation. The plunge of the wet hand into the depths of a cup, the smooth rhythmic strokes along the edge of a dish, everything conspires to remind me of lovers' bodies hot and wet against one another, of the foam and slickness of that last rage before orgasm when there is no friction, just a slippery wave of juice and salt tide, rolling like soap bubbles, sliding skin against skin, smooth as glass and yielding as the warm, wet cloth...

Throbbing, weak-kneed, my hips and vulva beating like a heart, I can stroll casually into the crowded living room, wiping my hands on a soft towel, drying my sweaty forehead. They think I have been doing the dishes. They thank me for performing what they believe was work. I lick my lips and smile. I say, "My pleasure."

Perhaps, Mrs. Mary Wood-Allen, you are right after all. Perhaps washing the dishes is indeed the answer to these sins of self-indulgence, the constant temptation toward the flesh.

It's what every young girl ought to know.

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