I have too many bowls, plus introducing the “dude litmus test”

decluttering dishes

I knew something was wrong immediately, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I stood with the kitchen cabinet doors open, willing my brain to identify the source of my unease.

Ah yes—the second shelf was bowing low in the center. And not just a little bit. It looked like it was about to snap. Alarmed at the prospect of smashing mugs and bowls, I immediately began taking everything off the shelf. Meanwhile, my husband walked into the kitchen and saw the chaos. “Now what?” he asked in a dreadful tone (he hates unexpected repair chores).

After some investigation, he discovered that a small brace holding the shelf in the center had busted. A custom part, of course. Muttering to himself, he started troubleshooting solutions.

“You know, part of the problem here,” he said, drill in hand, “is that we have too many dishes.”

It’s true. I counted. We have 17 mugs, 16 bowls, 14 dessert bowls, and tons of random extra things on those shelves. There are two of us. Even with guests, we never come close to using them all.

Even though I know better, I have a hard time letting go of certain things

Of course I’ve known about this glut of bowls for years, but I’ve been having a hard time parting with them. I think it’s fear that someday we’ll entertain more and I won’t have enough dishes to serve people. Like my friend who has a set of martini glasses that she bought for a cocktail party six years ago and hasn’t used since, I’m afraid I’ll need them again. It’s irrational.

Introducing the dude litmus test

This scenario illustrates something I’ve noticed when it comes to simplicity and minimalism: men and women are different. Not once has my husband ever kept something because he thought we might use it to entertain others. No bachelor in the world has 16 bowls.

This difference has led me make the conclusion that men are better natural minimalists (exceptions to this are gadget enthusiasts, tool hoarders, and “spavers”–aka people who buy stuff just because they’re getting a deal). Because of this, I’ve instituted a test for my lab experiments: I’m calling it the “dude litmus test.” Basically if a dude would do it, it qualifies as simple.

So back to the shelf burdened by an unnecessary quantity of dishes–when I apply this so-called dude litmus test, I determine that we can purge our bowls and mugs down to 8. It’s maybe technically more than a bachelor would need but at least I’ll have enough between dishwashing loads. I’m keeping the excess in basement storage for now with a reminder to donate it if we don’t use it between now and the new year.

Do you agree with my theory that men are better natural minimalists than women?