Can It Wait?

It’s all right.
Glass doesn’t stain.

I’m sitting but I still stop in my tracks. He’s absolutely right and I had never thought of it that way before.

The year is oh, I don’t know, 1996 or so. I’m in PEI on a business trip and am taking a few days to tour around because it’s my first time here. (There?) (These point-of-view words are so tricky.) (And when you least expect it.) My first time in PEI.

I’m staying in B&Bs of the sort where people rent out rooms in their homes and the bathroom is down the hall, just as it is in my home but somehow that feels different. That’s mostly what’s on offer out in the country. It’s not my happy place: I prefer more-private accommodation, but I prefer accommodation more.

I don’t remember where I had supper but I clearly remember sitting at the island in the big kitchen after supper making awkward conversation with the owner/hotelier. He offered me a glass of red wine. As I hesitated, he suggested that I could take it back to my unencumbered-by-sink room. And that’s when I made some comment about not being able to rinse it out.

It’s all right.
Glass doesn’t stain.

Indeed it does not. You can leave a few drops of red wine in a glass overnight and all you have to do the next morning is add some water and swish.

Now, some things do get worse with waiting: Coffee left sitting in a white mug leaves stains that won’t come off in the dishwasher.

Indeed, some things get worse without any waiting: tea merely passing by teeth leaves stains that can require professional intervention.

And some things move into almost-unrecoverable territory with not-much waiting: A thin smear of guacamole on almost any bowl or utensil hardens to a surface that would protect the space shuttle during re-entry into the atmosphere.

But some things don’t get any worse with waiting. Wine on glass is one of them. Maybe anything on glass (well, except guacamole). Because glass doesn’t stain. And not every problem requires immediate attention, or even a response, relaxed or otherwise. Some things can wait.

And some can’t. Time does not heal all wounds: It makes some fester. A leaky roof makes a bigger mess the longer it leaks. A problem employee is a high-interest savings account in reverse, the magic of compound interest growing team troubles in leaps and bounds the longer Difficult One is left in place. Weeds gone to seed, refrigerators with moldy onions in the crisper, offences not apologized-for: They’re all white mugs with a puddle of evaporating coffee.

I think the training courses call this characteristic something that sounds official: urgency, or somesuch. That’s fine. But it’s really pretty simple.

Can it wait? Well, that depends. Is it a wine glass or a coffee mug? And what’s on it? It’d better not be guacamole.

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16 Responses to Can It Wait?

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Not being a guacamole addict, I can’t comment on its ability to stick to dishes. But almost anything with a base of flour and water will turn into a paste that will glue itself more securely to any object than Elmers. Or Gorilla.

    In my younger days, I remember, we used a flour solution as glue for making papier mí¢ché artifacts. It’s amazingly hard, and surprisingly waterproof, considering that it’s made with water.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Yes, I think we used paper mache in school art projects, too, but to no particularly artistic effect. I guess bricks are made with water, too, and look how hard they turn out once all the water is baked out of them. I don’t know what it is in avocados that’s so strong.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Hey, Jim has managed to retrieve a memory. I too recall making those glues from flour and water.
    Once again, scenes from the days of my yute.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – nonetheless, I will always like guacamole, although I won’t say I am an addict for the stuff.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – I’m where you are – an appreciator but not a fanatic. Knowing its tendencies is to be forewarned – and to avoid putting it into the dishwasher.

  4. Alison says:

    Words said in anger? Words unintentionally said that hurt feelings? THOSE are the things that get worse with waiting. They deserve “urgency” to be dealt with and resolved.
    In the more concrete world, I’d say that sourdough starter( or discard) wins the prize for being impossible to remove. Again, it’s the basic “flour and water” mix – and yes, it’s like glue!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – True. Those are also wounds that fester. As for stick-to-it-iveness, a good safety tip on sourdough starter. It’s been years since I tried making bread of any sort.

  5. Timely advice, Isabel. We don’t come with shelf-life labels but when untreatable illnesses catch older people by surprise, as apparently is happening in my family, the next steps do not always take shape in an obvious hierarchy. As the chief caregiver, I am sometimes at a loss as to how to respond to a cacophony of “necessary” tasks and demands. I have set a wine glass and a white coffee/tea mug on my desk to remind me of the valuable distinction you make.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I am so sorry about the medical troubles in your family. May you sort through your priorities to your satisfaction, confident you are doing your best with the many demands on your time.

  6. barbara carlson says:

    No matter what’s been in the dish/glass/bowl, I always put water in it when I put it in the sink for washing later. Ditto with silverware: into a cup with water. John is the dishwasher, but I set things up for him to have an easier time of it. I am a treasure.

    I’m not a procrastinator, so a lot of jobs don’t fester. Again, I am a treas.

  7. Danielle Wawryk says:

    Most dishes that come up from Ella’s room need a good soak. Oh life with teenagers ;-P

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Danielle: Yes, I’d forgotten that stage. At least she’s not into the wine.

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