Back when I lived the uncultured life of a bachelor, I sometimes allowed dirty dishes to pile up in the sink.
OK, perhaps a tad more than ''sometimes.''
''Sometimes'' I found it easier to simply slip on three layers of work gloves, scoop the whole sink load collection into the trash, then buy a new round of plates, bowls and storage containers. Sometimes.
Now that I'm married, dishes are done with more regularity. Sometimes they're even done by me. Sometimes.
Face it, for most us - I'll refer to this group as ''normal people'' - wasting valuable nap time to do dishes is just no fun.
That's why I'm keenly interested in the latest miracle of the ''self-cleaning'' world - self-cleaning dishes.
The folks at Smithsonian Magazine this month reported that a couple of Swedish inventors designed a liquid-resistant coating made from plant cellulose and used it in the manufacturing of tableware.
Liquids won't stick. Oil-based foods won't stain. Dishes just don't get dirty in the first place. Just dump the dregs instead of the dishes into the trash.
Think of it as Teflon for your eating surfaces.
This begs two obvious question: How does a non-sticking surface stick to the surface that it's stuck to without sliding off? And will my food remain on my plate long enough for me to eat it?
Oh, and why stop at dishes? Why not laundry?
It's in the bag. Or hamper. Two years ago, researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China developed a treated cotton fabric with a mixture of chemicals called photocatalysts. Stains and odors dissolve after clothes are left out in the sun for a few hours.
Think of it. You send the kids out to play, and instead of getting dirty, they get clean.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center in Massachusetts is developing another version of self-cleaning clothes. The stain-resistant coating lets globs of ketchup slide off and splashes of motor oil bead up without sinking in. Dirt just drops away.
Your clothes remain clean. Your floors, however, might need a good mopping.
Other self-cleaning products have graced our homes for years. Self-cleaning ovens and self-cleaning litter boxes are hailed as some of the greatest marvels of modern mankind.
It's not enough. The science of spotlessness still lacks one major achievement, one masterpiece of nattiness. Researchers have yet to develop self-cleaning kids.
Earlier this month, news agencies shared the story of an 80-year-old Iranian recluse who claims he hasn't bathed in 60 years. He fears that scraping off his protective crust will make him ill.
That's exactly the same case I argued at bath time when I was a boy.
''The yuckies can't sneak past my shield of mud, Mom.''
She fired back that germs live in dirt.
''Ah, ha! It's a crud vaccination, Mom. Gunk builds up my immunity to disease.''
She pitched me into the bathtub herself. Mom wasn't much for scientific research conducted by little boys.
Anyway, now that those dark days of bachelorhood have passed, I've learned that sometimes it's best to give in and just wash the dishes. Sometimes. But I'm still holding out for a self-cleaning car.
---- Send Cole a washcloth at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.