"A" for Effort
One by one, the splashes of water darken the front of my shirt. The saucepans rattle against the sink as I run them under the hot water, scrub them in loving circles with a soapy washcloth, run them under the water again. I don't have a drying rack in this apartment yet, so I'm setting aside the scrubbed dishes on the bare countertop. Water covers the counter, wobbling at the edges under its tense skin, and when I brush against the edge of the counter the water seeps into my clothes.
Now the Tupperware bowl. The blue Fiestaware dish. The pub glass. The fork. The knife.
Over my shoulder, the television glows and babbles into the empty living room.
I had noticed a trend after the fourth inning left me near tears: in the next inning when I went to the bathroom, Trot Nixon got a base hit. When I ran out of the bathroom to catch what would happen next, Jason Varitek struck out. I sat patiently and kept watching. Kevin "Inning Over" Millar flied out. Just as an experiment, I got up and left the room again.
Pokey Reese stroked a single to center.
I looked at the pile of dishes in the sink.
I decided it was time to do the dishes.
So I'm scrubbing, shirt-front soaked, when Johnny Damon takes the plate again against Javier Vasquez, against whom he'd hit two home runs on the night. I concentrate on the washcloth, a rose-colored washcloth that doesn't match anything else I or my family owns, wondering which college dorm room it wandered out of into my possession. I concentrate on squirting more Dawn into the bottom of a saucepan. I concentrate on getting the corner of the washcloth to the very bottom of the pub glass to scrub out the tiny blob of Coke you can never get out while drinking.
I'm concentrating so hard on not jinxing Johnny's at bat by watching that by the next time I focus my ears on the game, the Yankees are back up at bat, and I don't know what happened to Johnny, only that my little superstition hasn't worked.
It never does.