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My girlfriend (we’ll call her “M”) needed to start cleaning out her office last weekend. She’s taking a new job after ten years with the same company—using the same office the entire time—and clearing out a decade’s worth of shit isn’t the easiest thing to do. Unless, of course, you’re accompanied by an irritable, impatient, profusely sweating prick who has no emotional attachment to anything in your office—and who yells at you whenever you take more than three seconds to decide whether to throw something away.
When M finished cleaning off her desk, she went to a utility closet and brought back a product called Dust-Off, which she sprayed on her laptop and desktop keyboards. Dust-Off is a can of air that you shoot at your keyboard through a small straw. It blows all the dried chewing tobacco flakes—sorry, dust—out of all the little crevasses in your keyboard. It’s very effective.
I switched to a MacBook Pro a few months ago, and I’ve been trying to keep this thing in virgin condition. Finding Dust-Off that day was a very exciting thing for me. I watched M spray down her keyboards, and I fantasized about all the nasty shit that would fly out of my MacBook Pro when I applied my own can of Dust-Off, which I vowed to find and purchase as soon as possible.
I could have swiped one from M’s building, but M is paranoid about shit like that. She gave me a hard time when I asked her for a pack of legal pads, so I assumed there must be some angry logistics and supply clerk somewhere in the building who would track the missing can to her and, perhaps, take legal action. I didn’t want to risk M’s illustrious career like that, so I left without my prize.
A few days later, I went to Office Max to look for Dust-Off. It wasn’t in the cleaning supplies aisle, which I found strange because Dust-Off can be found in that category on the Office Max website. I asked a guy in a red polo shirt what the deal was, and he told me they have to keep Dust-Off locked up because too many people were spraying it up their noses in the store. This happened so frequently that it became store policy to keep Dust-Off off the shelves—despite the fact that it now contains a “bitterent” designed to deter people from huffing it.
This reminds me of something that happened back when this blog was getting shitloads of attention and people were inviting me to parties in Manhattan. I was in a bar with a bunch of people I didn’t know—but who all seemed to know me—when a girl asked me if I’d go outside with her while she smoked a cigarette. She was very pretty, so I went. She smoked, took her last puff, threw the butt on the sidewalk, then said something unusual.
“That cigar store across the street has whippets. You wanna do some?”
No. Thank you, though.
This was kind of like the girl who wrote me and said, without irony, “Hey, I love your blog! You’re an awesome writer! Can you come over and fix the lock on my apartment door?” Maybe this was a ruse and she wanted something else. Probably. I never wrote her back.
There was a time in my life where I knew about all the shit in the supermarket that you could sniff, swallow, and smoke to get yourself high. I never actually did any of it—really, I didn’t—but I grew up with, hung out with, and am related to, people who did shit like that. I preferred to just sit and consistently drink, i.e., while everyone else was wasting time rolling joints and snorting Reddi-Whip at 7-11, I continued to observe my one-drink-every-ten-minutes rule, which meant that no matter how much they all smoked or huffed, I’d still be more polluted than the entire room combined by the end of the night.
That’s kind of still my deal, even though I haven’t had a drink in a while.
But Dust-Off? I had no idea, and I don’t like that I had no idea. I suppose I’ve graduated, life-wise, from knowing what 16-year-olds are shoving up their noses, but it still makes me sad that this was news to me, as though I’ve lost touch with a whole body of knowledge I’d developed and maintained for the first thirty or so years of my life.
That, plus I think it’s fucking pathetic that I have to ask somebody to go in the back and get me my Dust-Off because the general public can’t be trusted with it, but that’s far too easy of a target. Fuck people anyway.