A DIRTY SHAME

We’ve given dirt a bad name and it isn’t fair. Think about it. Where would we be without dirt? On the rocks, that’s where. If it wasn’t for dirt we’d starve and entire industries would bite the dust. Laundries, car washers and janitors would be clean out of work and the multi-billion dollar soap and detergent corporations would go right down the drain. And don’t bad talk dirt to a farmer.

Sadly, people never use complimentary references for dirt. We don’t want to be “treated like dirt” and “the latest dirt” is sure to be an unreliable, scandalous rumor. You might laugh at a “dirty joke”, but feel a little guilty about it. “Dirty pool” implies unethical behavior and “dirty rotten scoundrel” is self-explanatory, but why can’t “rotten scoundrel” suffice? Does this villain also have to be unwashed?

Personally, I’ve always been rather fond of dirt. We’ve been very close, too close according to some, including fussy sergeants during my USAF years. It’s an established fact that we’re intimately related to dirt. According to the Bible, it’s our original main ingredient and we’re all going to be recycled eventually. That pile of dust you swept up in the kitchen today might have been your Great-Great Aunt Matilda or, with favorable east winds, Julius Caesar.

Children appreciate dirt more than adults, but when little girls grow beyond the mud pie stage, they tend to join the anti-grime ranks of their mothers. Little boys enjoy dirt much longer. They like to play in it and on it and carve out handfuls to create miniature mountains and lakes and to mold into soft projectiles. Little boys manage to bring home large quantities of dirt attached to their clothing and body parts. They hate to depart with brother dirt on bath nights which they consider painful experiences bordering on child abuse.

I remember as a carefree youth trudging home in the rain after an exciting mudball battle, planning to brag to Mom about my gang’s victory, and hearing her call as I walked across the living room,”I just vacuumed. Are your shoes clean?” I looked down and was happy to reply, “Yes, Mom. They were pretty muddy when I came in, but they’re clean now.”

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