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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

A Hint of Lint

Lint flabbergasts me. I'm not talking about the stuff that creeps up my stomach to burrow in my navel. I'm talking about the fluffy gray residue in the dryer. Whenever I wash clothes, I'm always astounded to find how much has accumulated in the lint-trap of the dryer. (And why is it always an odd gray color? Occasionally it'll be some cotton-candy pink or bluish hue, but for the most part, it's a rather unattractive slate-gray tone. Even when I wash my whites, the lint always comes out the same color.)

It's really a stunning amount, at times. I can't understand where it all comes from and how, if it does come off my clothes, is it that I have no gaping holes in my clothing? With the exception of holes in the heel and toes of my socks, which is entirely my own fault for testing the durability of the fiber by daring to walk, I don't notice any significant chunks of fabric missing from shirts, pants or any other articles.

I'm frankly surprised that I have any clothes left at all, seeing how much lint I seem to donate to the garbage every time I wash clothes. There must be at least enough to clothe a small nation, or at least make a sock, which brings me to another point. Where are all my socks going? At first I thought I was imagining things, but I'm more certain of it now than ever. Doing laundry used to be a determinate process, but it's becoming more of a crapshoot nowadays. Perhaps it's premature senility on my part, perhaps it's black magic, perhaps it's the new stronger detergent with "color savers" that I use; any way you put it, my clothes are disappearing.

In ancient times, losing a sock or two could be excused, since the river or stream in which clothes were washed could easily claim a small amount of clothing without being noticed. But I'm not washing my clothes in a river. It's a virtually closed system. I just move the pile, encapsulated by a flamboyant and indestructible purple nylon bag, from my room to the washing machine.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the lint in the dryer might be sock residue. I've noticed that I don't lose socks every time, just every once in a while. And after every disappearance, there's a suspiciously large layer of lint leering at me from inside the trap. But this is all just supposition. To solve this problem, I turned to my best friend, Google.com.

My research, besides being useless, turned up one surprising lint story. A sculptor in Michigan (I hear they have a lot of lint) has created a statue of the Virgin Mary with Child using only our fuzzy gray friend and some wire. This, as far as I'm concerned, is a stroke of sheer brilliance. I'm fascinated by what the artist's thought processes must have been. At what point does one look at lint and say, "Hmmm, well, I could throw it out like every normal person, or I could make a statue of the Virgin Mary!" Apparently, some in the 750-person congregation even lamented that they felt they had cheated themselves by not contributing to the lint collection because they had initially thought that the artist would "waste" the lint. Good thinking, guys; throwing it away like you normally do wouldn't be considered a "waste."

I only wonder what former mayor Rudy Giuliani, of New York City, would have thought: First a picture of the Madonna made from elephant dung, and now a Madonna and Child made from stuff one usually discards after digging it out of bodily crevices or fishing it out of a pocket.

In explaining the motive behind her creation, the self appointed grand poobah of lint philosophized, "With all this hustle and bustle, people should stop and think about the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus was brought into the world for all of us." I, for one, am quite glad she made this statue, because I know that I would never have understood the true meaning of Christmas without this lint formation. I feel enlightened.

Ultimately, I happened upon the writing of a delightful woman who offered an online article titled "Laundry 101." This was exactly what I needed. It made me realize that for most things in life I had been taught what to do in classrooms, but that I had never received any formal instruction on how to properly wash and care for my clothing. Why should laundry receive any less respect than classes like "History of the Civil War" or "Molecular Biology"?

Unfortunately, I didn't learn much new from this course -- perhaps the reason they don't teach it at accredited institutions, although I think I heard they offer that course at Brown -- other than that line-drying clothing will preserve them longer. Fascinating stuff, but I still don't know where my socks are going. I guess I'll just have to accept the marauding armies of dustbunnies that invade my lint-trap and steal my socks.