Men are dirt


My wife and I can’t agree on the definition of “clean.”

For instance, I think that cleaning up 99.9 percent of my mustache trimmings from the bathroom sink should earn an “A” for cleanliness. No! One whisker is a D-! And the same for the bathroom mirror. Considering the entire surface area of the mirror (8 square meters), one spot of toothpaste/saliva mixture (0.5 centimeter) would constitute a cleanliness quotient 99.9999999999.

We won’t even go into my favorite mug, which Lois is convinced is the source of the West Nile Virus, the recent Anthrax scare, and a possible Ebola outbreak. I think the mug simply has character after several uses.

I suppose it all goes back to Adam and Eve.

      And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man (Genesis 2).

Simply put, man was created from dirt; while woman was created in some kind of sophisticated surgical procedure involved genetic engineering. Thus . . .

There is an inbred instinct that draws boys—of all ages—and dirt together.

This is easily explained by the old law of physics that “nature abhors a vacuum.” This law is proven regularly on my desktop. As soon as I have it cleared off, it will attract all kinds of clutter from far reaches of the cosmos (paper clips, Post-It’s, Kleenex, junk mail, magazines, coupons, stacks of reference books, computer disks, pens without ink and pencils with broken leads, plus reams of paper covered by a thin layer of pre-formed man). This will continue until the maximum clutter capacity is reached.

In the same way, by cleaning off a five-year-old boy, you are tampering with the forces of nature. This squeaky clean vacuum-that is bathed and dressed in his Sunday best-must be immediately equalized with a like amount of dirt! It’s simple physics!

Which brings us to another undisputed physics principle: The Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a closed system, things degenerate from complex to simple, organized to random, clean to dirty. A house never goes from dusty to sparkling clean, magazines never put themselves away, and laundry never evolves from rancid to “springtime fresh.” (This is why the whole notion of evolution is so silly and unscientific.)

My mother, the original Martha Stewart, attempted to defy this law of entropy by cleaning and vacuuming every morning at 6 a.m. For some reason, she lived under the delusion that our kitchen was an operating room that must be ready for emergency surgery at a moments notice. (This was during the “Cold War,” so perhaps the local Civil Defense unit had designated our house at an emergency M*A*S*H unit. “Excuse me ma’m, but I need to use your kitchen counter to perform a bowel resection!”)

Anyway, here’s my theory:

Men simply take a more scientific, even metaphysical approach to dirt and disorganization than women.

First, since men’s basic make-up is “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” they have no aversion to snatching dropped food off the floor (“the five-second rule”), peeing in the shower, or drinking out of a mug that looks like a petri dish from Micro-Biology class. Men are in touch with their inner earth.

Second, clutter and disorganization is a natural, unbreakable law, and no attempt to fight it with magazine racks, closet organizers, or the entire inventory of Rubbermaid will permanently alter the second law of thermodynamics. It’s a futile fight. Clutter will win every time!

Note I should point out that there are subtle ways to alter a male’s indifference toward dirt. If hubby wants to enjoy the freshly laundered designer sheets and matching pillow shams with the wife, he can be motivated to make certain concessions on cleanliness. Lois just loves it when I empty the dishwasher!

Copyright © 2002 James N. Watkins

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