‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Six) — Conclusion

Another Country by JamesBaldwin

This would normally be where a guy like me concludes by showing how I resolved my dirt issues, or at least negotiated a balance between cleaning and living free. But that would be a kind of cleaning up, wouldn’t it. At the same time, because pornography has entered the building, the dirty-string gatherer is tempted to state that he can literally visualize dark-blue passages in his introduction to printed dirt: James Baldwin’s  Another Country, which was passed around in high school till it disappeared. Don’t believe me? “Did he fuck … [Read more...]

‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Five) — Pay Dirt

Sexplosion

Now I was set up in San Diego, studying English and American literature because a really nice professor I knew with the odd first name of Sacvan – yes, Sacco and Vanzetti, plus his parents named his red-diaper sister “Ninel,” which took me forever to figure out – said anyone could do it, could do lit, and he eased my path. Hard to know in retrospect if he had been kidding. How would I make a living? Teach Jane Austen and Karl Marx to sun-dappled surfers, whom I knew had something to teach me, though I didn’t yet know what. Supplement that … [Read more...]

‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Four) — Master of Alconox

Gilbert chemistry set

When, for his ninth or tenth birthday, my spouse received a Gilbert chemistry set, all he wanted to do, he told me, was to make perfume and explosives. I had begged my parents for the same gift, probably for similar reasons, but a cheap plastic microscope must have “fallen off the truck,” because that’s what I got instead. What a whiny child I must have been. Quickly amoeba-centered and science-tracked, I was given the opportunity to work with a scientist at what was then called the Rockefeller Institute, in Manhattan, before leaving high … [Read more...]

‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Three) — The White Goddess

Clorox "Butch"

  No good will be served if I demonize my mother and claim that she was responsible for who I am, dirtwise. But almost everything I know about cleaning clothes and floors and toilets I learned from her. Since I was 6, I measured laundry powder, ironed shirts, polished mirrors and even memorized cleaning-supply jingles on TV because they were sung in a code that it was up to me to break. Mom told her friends that she was training me because she thought boys should be self-reliant, but it was actually because she wanted help in the house, … [Read more...]