Dispatches from the Natural World
This urgent bulletin comes as the result of an alarming discovery I made reading an article on the Internet. My forbears were many, as this is apparently a “thing” that people know about, but I was caught unawares.
If you stumbled across this word, alone on a piece of paper, my bet is that you would likely wrinkle your nose in disbelief, squint in a thoughtful manner, and then daintily drop the entire operation into the nearest area most easily delineated as not being you.
That is, one who values smegma. I am almost entirely pro-penis, but the word still sent a shudder down my spine. After all, it is disgusting to think of someone who worships, probably from close proximity, the unclean buildup of an uncared-for member, let alone a whole vile order dedicated to the practice. I believe we need to encourage hygiene, not reward a lack of it. There is only one reason that I can think of where one ought to engage in a close-proximity washing, and that entails a very specific situation involving a bum in a coma on the street and some sort of a game show.
Of course, this made for a very confusing article until my second discovery of the day, which is that smectite is a type of mineral clay. Here are a few passages that alarmed and excited me until, sadly, their appeal as entertainment was devalued by the true definition of the word:
“The smectite in these South China rocks [heh-heh], however, underwent no such transformation and have a special chemistry that, for the smectite to form, requires specific conditions in the water.”
“Moreover, we found smectite in only some locations in South China, and not uniformly, as one would expect for marine deposits.”
Copyright 2009, Denise Pace
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