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...The Dishwasher Discord…

Hutch drags Starsky into the kitchen by his shirt sleeve to stand in front of the open door of their new appliance. “Starsky! What is the matter with you? You can’t load the dishwasher like that!”

“What does it matter? Stuff is dirty, you put it in the racks, add soap, turn the machine on, and go do something enjoyable with your partner, like dance or suck each other off.”

Hutch’s eyes roll. “It matters, dummy. Didn’t you read the instruction manual?”

“A dishwasher has an instruction manual?”

“Of course it does! It tells you how to operate something safely and efficiently.”

“Good thing you don’t come with an instruction manual.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?

“Well, where’s the fun in having some little book tell me about how to make you happy? Experimentin’ is half the fun.”

Hutch nods reluctantly. “I can see your point, but there is a right way to load the dishwasher.” He pulls out the top rack then picks up a stainless steel anal plug complete with several bumps along the stalk. “Considering where this has been” -- to which Starsky grins widely -- “do you really think it was appropriate to put it in the same appliance with our glasses and dishes?”

“Well, don’t we deserve a Lump-Lump that’s as clean as possible? ‘Sides, everything in there gets real clean, right?”

Hutch shakes Lump-Lump in Starsky’s face and tries to conceal his eagerness to use the toy. “Fine. Why don’t you test out its cleanliness, huh?”

Before Hutch can finish his challenge, Starsky is shimmying out of his jeans and saying, “You got it, babe.”

...The Condiment Conflict...

Starsky unloads the first grocery bag Hutch has brought into the house. Under the sugar-free whole wheat bread (“Yecch!” he says softly) and Wonder Bread (“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” he mumbles), he finds all sorts of jars of different sizes at the bottom of the bag.

He pulls out one jar, reads the label, shrugs, and places it on the counter. He pulls out a second, does the same. By the time he takes out the fifth one, he’s stopped shrugging and instead tenses up and slams the bottle on the counter. He smirks when he sees Hutch fumble with the egg carton he’s in the process of putting in the refrigerator.

Hutch nails him with a nearly lethal glare. “What is your problem, Starsk? You almost made me drop the eggs.”

“What’s with all the mustards, huh? This ain’t like you, Hutch. I thought you were more parsimonious than this.”

Hutch’s eyes widen. “Have you been reading that Word Power section again in Reader’s Digest?”

“Yep,” Starsky proclaims proudly. “Cheaper than a college education.”

“I knew leaving Reader’s Digests in the bathroom would improve your vocabulary,” Hutch boasts imperiously.

Starsky gives him a lusty ogle. “Just you wait and see what I replaced ‘em with!” He counters before he steers them back to his interrogation. “So, how many kinds of mustard does one, uh, two men need?” He takes two more bottles out of the bag. “And ketchup, too? Ketchup is ‘posed to be made from tomatoes, not walnuts or mushrooms.” He screws up his face in disgust.

“Different condiments are a great way to season food. Make it more interesting, more palatable.”

Starsky takes out five more jars of mustard. “But ten? Ain’t that overkill?”

“Oh, Starsky, don’t you know variety is the spice of life?” Hutch asks in a tolerant whine.

“Yeah, sure, in the bedroom sure, but on, uh, in food? And where did you get all this variety?”

“At the supermarket. There was a lady at a display of all these mustards and ketchups, letting anyone take a small taste of whatever condiment they wanted to try. She had recipe cards, too. I got a bunch of ‘em.” He smiles sweetly as he pulls some 3x5 index cards from his jacket’s inner pocket.

“So, she tol’ you that mustard can go on more stuff than pastrami, hot dogs, and sausages?” Starsky sounds dubious.

“Of course!” Hutch scans the labels and picks up the one jar he was looking for. “This is a Dijon mustard, you know, like Grey Poupon?”

“Like I’m gonna eat any color of Poop-on.”

Hutch laughs at Starsky’s likely intentional pronunciation. “Ya know, it wouldn’t hurt to broaden your culinary horizons beyond pizza, tacos, burritos, spaghetti, and chocolate.” When he sees his lover’s eyes pop open wide, Hutch pulls out a Snickers and a bag of M&Ms from his jacket pocket. He raises his eyes to the ceiling when Starsky snatches both treats from him. “The next salad I make will have a dressing made with this mustard and I guarantee you’ll like it. And I have a champagne mustard to add to scrambled eggs, maybe even ice cream.”

“That’s sacree, sacree…”

“Sacreligious.”

“Yeah, that! Why mess with ice cream? That’s just wrong. It’s pretty much perfect as it is.”

Hutch sighs. “Starsk, will you just give it a try?”

Starsky’s resolve melts at the soft plea in Hutch’s eyes and voice. “Okay, fine. But only one of these newfangled mustards can be open at a time. Can’t let ‘em take up so much room in the fridge.”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

Starsky huffs impatiently. “They’ll take up too much of the beer space, idiot! And maybe some of the room we need for leftover pizza, too.”

“Not all of these mustards or ketchups need to be refrigerated; only the ones with sugar.”

“Ya mean it won’t spoil and give us toe-nail poisoning?”

“I promise. And it’s ‘ptomaine.’”

Starsky harrumphs and mutters, “Like there’s a main toe.” He sighs and eventually nods. “Just don’t let any of these impinge on our beer and pizza space or out they go.”

“I hear ya, Starsk. Now, how about a taste test?” Hutch selects a jar filled with a medium brown mustard. “It’s key lime and ginger mustard.” He opens it and gets a spoon from the drawer. He skims the spoon lightly across the surface then holds it close to Starsky’s mouth. “I tried it at the market. I think it’s really good.”

Starsky’s scowl screams disgust. “Speaking of poop, that’s what it looks like!”

“What with the squeamishness? Need I remind you of just where your tongue was last night? So, Close your eyes and don’t think about what it looks like. Trust me.”

It takes a long minute for a wary Starsky to close his eyes and open his mouth.

Quickly, Hutch feeds Starsky the mustard before he can change his mind. His own eyes widen in surprise when Starsky’s lips form a delighted smile.

“I take it you like it?”

Starsky licks his lips then says, “How was I to know something that looked like that was supposed to taste so good?!”

Hutch smiles smugly. “I knew you’d like it.”

“Hey, don’t get cocky, Blondie.” Starsky’s face suddenly goes from happy to devilish. “Got anything there that’d go good on a kielbasa?” He wiggles his eyebrows.

Hutch catches the double entendre instantly. “I think I have the perfect mustard for that... banger.” He selects another jar, holds it up for Starsky to read the label.

Starsky gulps and concern covers his face. “Jalapeno? Won’t that, you know, burn?”

“No worries, babe. It won’t be on your sausage for long.”

Starsky grins lewdly. “Yeah, and then we end up with homemade mayo.”

Hutch snorts. “That’s crude, Starsk. But I do love that particular condiment of yours.”

...The Plant Predicament...

Starsky reaches up to grab the cord for the blinds above the kitchen sink but stops when his hand is pierced several times by sharp needles.

“Huuuuuutch!” he shouts as he cradles his injured hand in the one that is unharmed.

Hutch runs in, strewing potting soil across the floor, and skids to a stop beside his lover. “What? You okay?”

Starsky, a pained frown on his face, shows his bleeding hand to Hutch. “That damn plant bit me again!”

Hutch examines the tiny holes in the fleshy part under Starsky’s pinky finger. “Starsk, there’s barely a drop of blood coming out of these. Why the drama? You’ve definitely had a lot worse, ya big baby.”

“But Hutch, this ain’t the first time that damn plant attacked me,” he whined.

“Florence did not attack you. And you keep getting yourself stuck because you’re not paying attention. You’re a bull in the bedroom and on occasion the streets, but in the kitchen, that’s not a good thing.”

“Okay, fine, it didn’t attack me. But why is there a freakin’ plant in the kitchen window anyway? Why in the kitchen at all? Only plants that oughta be here are those you can eat. Geez, Hutch, why do you gotta have plants everywhere?”

Hutch looked to the ceiling for a few seconds before returning his gaze to his pouting mate. “Starsky, this is an aloe vera plant, remember?”

“Well, yeah, but I think it’s a cousin to that alien Venus Flytrap. And I hate those. You know they’ll evolve and eat humans one day.”

Hutch snorts derisively. “Don’t be ridiculous, mushbrain. There are no alien plants, no plants that will ever eat humans, and aloe and flytraps are not related.”

“You don’t know that!” Starsky persisted. “Except maybe the last thing you said. But why is this plant in the kitchen anyway?”

“Because it’s right where it should be. The sap in it is perfect to treat burns, which frequently happen in the kitchen, and other skin problems. I used it on that burn you had a few weeks ago.”

“Oh… that’s what that was?”

“Yeah, and I’ve used it elsewhere on your body after some, um, vigorous use. And I’ve given you some of the sap to put on me, too.”

“You have? I have?”

Hutch’s expression suddenly changes to seductive. “I’ll be happy to point it out if that’ll jog your memory.”

The realization of what his lover was suggesting transforms Starsky’s puzzlement to horny imp. “How’s ‘bout we create the circumstances that need the plant’s use so you can demonstrate it first hand?”

“Excellent idea, Ollie. Didn’t know you had that in you.”

“An idea ain’t exactly what I want in me, lover boy.”

...The Olfactory Offense...

Starsky opens the door to their modest home and promptly squeezes his eyes shut and pinches his nose closed.

“Huuuuuuutch!” he shouts. He chuckles because he sounds like he has a bad cold, which he wishes he does.

Hutch comes rushing in. “Starsk, you okay? You sound… Hey, why are you holding your nose?”

“What is this god-awful stink? It’s like gefilte fish gone bad. Nope. Worse.”

“What stink? I don’t smell anything.”

Starsky rolls his eyes and slightly loosens his hold on his nostrils. “Ya know, Hutch, I bet Mrs. Harrigan can smell this.”

“No way, Gordo. She’s across the street and keeps her windows closed.”

“You know what I mean.” He harrumphs, which sounds anemic because of the nose pinching. “So, what is that smell? And why haven’t you taken whatever it is outside, huh?”

Hutch points to the large bowl on the counter. “It’s fish guts and stuff. Doesn’t smell so bad to me. You should be glad it’s not lutefisk.” He shrugs. “Guess it all depends on one’s perspective.”

“Yeah, well, my perspective is the stench of Vietnam. And it got worse when we had to use gasoline and diesel fuel to burn our sh-”

Hutch swiftly draws a finger across his throat. “I don’t wanna hear about that, much less think about it.”

“No problem, Blondie; me neither. But this odor is worse than that. Crap, my eyes are waterin’ now! Why don’t you throw it all out? I’m dyin’ here!”

“You’re not dyin’ and I have a good use for all this,” Hutch says.

“Then will you please tell me what possible use you have for ‘fish guts and stuff’? Other than maybe inviting the neighbor cats over for dinner?”

“There was a great sale at Stan’s fish market so I bought some. We got dinner tonight and I froze the rest for later, plus I’ve got the fertilizer I need for the vegetable garden.”

Starsky’s eyes widen in disbelief. “Wha’?”

“Fish remains make great fertilizer, Starsk. It’s natural, organic, not that chemical garbage. Thought everybody knew that.”

“I didn’t!” he shouts. “And fish guts ain’t garbage? No way I’m gonna eat the vegetables that come outta your garbage dump garden.”

Hutch grins smugly. “Hate to tell you this, partner, but you know those few vegetables I grew at Venice Place?”

Starsky gives Hutch a look of shock and betrayal. “No. No way. You did not feed me vegetables that you grew in fish guts!”

“Sorry, buddy, but I did.”

Starsky releases his hold on his nose and takes a deep breath through his mouth. Immediately, he pinches his nose tightly again. “In the Paul Muni Special?”

Hutch nods. “That batch I made a few months after moving into Venice Place. Carrots.”

“I think I’m gonna throw up.”

“Look, Starsky, it’s all good. Plants thrive on fish remains. Humans thrive on plants. It’s the circle of life.”

Starsky frowns and gulps. “I gotta think about this. I’ll eat the fish tonight, but I want canned corn, ya hear, Hutch? And canned green beans, too.”

“Fine, Starsk. Now, I’ll take the fish remains out to the compost pile. Be back in a few, okay?”

Starsky nods, his face an angry frown. “Be sure to use that devil’s stick to bury that stuff good.”

“It’s a pitchfork, Starsk. I’ll be right back.”

When Hutch returns to the kitchen, Starsky has lit a scented candle in the kitchen and opened several windows. “Ummm… strawberry! Your favorite.”

“You know what that does to me, don’tcha?” Starsky, nose finally and fully open, leers at his lover.

“Of course I do! Now, how about we light one in the bedroom, too?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me.” Starsky gently grips Hutch’s forearms. “Uh, first, how about ditchin’ your clothes here and taking a shower? You kinda smell.”

“Okay. Then we can make our own smell.”

“You mean lightly strawberry-scented Me an’ Thee love perfume?”

“You got it.”

Starsky quirks a sly smile. “I think we’re both gonna get it.”

...The Recipe Revolt…

Starsky lifts the lid off the roasting pan on the stove top and closes his eyes before bending his head over the pan. He takes a deep breath of seasoned beefy perfume. His smiling mouth waters. He opens his eyes, peers into the pan and sees…

“What is this, Hutch? It sure as hell ain’t the Paul Muni Special!”

“The recipe I used says it is.”

“It can’t be! That’s way too many vegetables. And the beef looks like it hasn’t grown up.”

“A recipe is just a, a… guideline to a cook. I made an improvement. You’ll love it. Trust me.” Hutch’s smile is angelic.

“I just don’t know how you could mess with perfection,” Starsky says under his breath as he grabs a fork. He stabs an ingredient and thrusts it to within inches of Hutch’s face. “How can I eat this mystery… thing? Looks like it got beat up by the other vegetables. I don’t eat anything I can’t identify.”

“It’s a Jerusalem artichoke. Sometimes it’s called a sunchoke. It’s really tasty. Just try it, will ya?”

“Why would anybody eat somethin’ that has the word ‘choke’ in it? I bet it’s kinda like that self-fulfilling thing.”

“Prophecy. You won’t choke on it, I promise, unless you’re not careful eating it.” Hutch gives him a knowing look. “You haven’t choked on me, so this should be easy.”

Starsky’s hesitates and fumes while he decides what to do, but Hutch’s reminder has his libido beating down his wary stomach. “Maybe I’ll try it if you promise to give me the Hindlick Maneuver if I do choke.”

Hutch bursts into a loud guffaw. “That’s Heimlich Maneuver, moron. I think the Hindlick is what we do in bed. Though I’m not averse to doin’ it in the kitchen. Or anywhere else private.”

Starsky’s eyes shine like a high-voltage light bulb, pleased with his gaffe. “Okay, I’ll try it, but only if we do the Hindlick after dinner.”

Hutch licks his lips and his eyes brighten with desire and lust. “Why wait?” He puts the lid back on the pan.

Starsky, now salivating for his favorite Blintz, remembers just in time to use the pot holders before grasping the pan’s handles. Hutch is ahead of him, opening the still-warm oven door.

A few minutes later, they’re performing maneuvers in the bedroom.

the end

December 2021