This story isn't going to be about death, only dust. Well maybe some death at the end when I get all sappy and philosophical.
The other evening on the six 'clock news, I happened upon a report about a local civic leader who'd been placed on a paid leave of absence while the Feds figured out if he was involved in some sort of white collar crime I can't even begin to understand. As I watched the film clip of agents searching the man's house and confiscating his computer hard drives, I wasn't thinking about what kind of dastardly deeds he'd most likely done, or if he'd be sent to the big house or the little house to pay his debt to society, or even what his wife must be thinking as the big black Suburbans tore out massive chunks of turf from her front lawn. What I was pondering (and I'm really serious here) was how people are able to keep their things so clean and dust free. As the police were carefully placing the evidence in the back of their vans, I could see that all surfaces of each item of computer equipment were just absolutely shiny bright: no dust bunnies, no cat hair, no peanut butter, nothing but spic and span spotless wonder. If that felon has a cleaning service, I want the contact information.
Dust has always been a problem for me. For years, I had pets, mainly cats with a few dogs thrown in here and there for equity's sake. I also had children who certainly added to the coating of debris that could be found on my coffee table on any given Saturday. Because of my lifestyle, I always blamed my problems with dirt and grime on pets and kids.
Until now. My children finally all left home for the "real world" and my old cat, Chloe, the ugliest, longest-lasting-without-any-medical-care-at-all-after-some-basic-spaying cat died last year. Actually, I helped her into her feline afterlife with a trip to the vet and some euthanasia. Okay, I cried a bit (maybe a lot) when it happened, but that's another story. Bottom line, I continue to smell the cat pee when I walk into my kitchen, and the dust is still with me.
I really, truly don't know how to get rid of those pesky particles of whatever the stuff is that covers each surface of every place I go, including my car and my classroom. Every once in a while, I wipe at it with a wash cloth or a wet paper towel. Other times I blow on it, which, believe it or not, doesn't work all that well. On occasion, I've gotten into some semblance of dusting mode, purchasing spray stuff and, once, even a feather duster. However, when I do that type of crazy thing, I inevitably end up knocking over and breaking one of the about twelve thousand knickknacks I've accumulated through the years, and Pavlov and Skinner (if they were still alive) would be the first (and second) to point out that's not a great way to reinforce good clean behavior.
Thinking of Pavlov and Skinner made me consider taking the scientific approach to solving my filth purging problem, so I googled "dust" and found that it's made up of three primary components. First are the tiny fibers shed by fabric. That doesn't sound so bad. Perhaps I need to wear fewer clothes. The second component isn't as easy to accept as it is the dried feces and corpses of dust mites. You mean I have tiny corpses laid out like King Tut on my easy chair, surrounded by their poop? Back on with the clothes. The third component is quite possibly the most hideous to consider but it just might be the one to cast some light on my quandary as it is the one constant for all the places I go. That component is dead skin cells with the common factor being me. As I've said before, "no matter where I go, there I am". Now I can add "dragging my dead skin cells behind me" to the axiom.
So, since my plethora of diligent research strategies hasn't produced a good solution to my dust problem, I've decided to just sit back and enjoy it, keeping in mind that a fine powder of settled motes can come in handy when you need to write down a phone number or an address. In addition, if my home ever becomes a crime scene, fingerprints will be much easier to find and identify because of my poor housekeeping.
Nevertheless, if I ever go missing, don't look for evidence flirtatiously peeking up from my dusty book shelves. Just keep an eye out for a rather large pile of dead skin cells, most likely surrounded by tiny corpses and microscopic poop. That will be me.
See, I told you there'd be a chance I'd get around to death at the end of this thing.
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