"Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
2nd century Hebrew proverb
Rabbi Phineas ben-Yair
(per Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 14th ed.)
"Honni soit qui mal y pense."
Motto, English chivalric Order of the Garter,
King Edward III of England
I have been following the Simon-Simpleminded-Simon-purity statements that are enjoying a new resurgence in the right-wing culture wars of the current season of political campaigns with alternating amusement and distaste.
While I bless and thank my parents often in my heart for having insisted that an attention span and ability to concentrate is like a muscle which must be exercised to remain strong, a premise I bring to many tasks..........there are certain activities which produce for me a tedium which is almost physically painful to endure. It is just one of the reasons, I - along with many people - dislike the necessary task of washing windows. Unlike other domestic tasks, there is no 'domestic godess' gratification in it; it is an annoying necessity to be reluctantly endured and gotten over with as quickly as possible.
Until recently, I just cringed when thinking of the smirking, leering pseudo-purity promoted by professional right wing political parasites like Christine O'Donnell who make a living off of saying any drek the right wants to hear. Instead, in response to a news item about her anti-masturbation crusade on the news in the background, I played an old CD while washing windows, selecting the most lust-inducing music available in my collection. In this case it was from 1991, a local group, Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers. My friend Sara introduced me to their music a few years ago (thank you Sara!) simply describing Sterling's vocal quality as 'beefy', but said with an edginess in her expression which implied much more. I would describe the mixture of rough and smooth in his delivery as the auditory equivalent of a caress followed by the feel of a lover's fingernails lightly but firmly dragged across one's skin, making it tingle.
The mixture of Sterling and the instrumental accompaniment of 'Squib Cakes' built nicely through 'Turn Me Loose'; but it was the lyrics and energy of of 'Bump and Grind' which carried me through cleaning the big living room window. It was "I want to bump and grind and get on down, hold your body next to mine" that generated the knot of energy just forward of the small of my back, taking me into the moment and away from my usual attempts to distract myself from boredom. I conjugate irregular french verbs while standing in grocery store check out lines waiting for overflowing carts of necessities to be processed through, in order to block out screaming toddlers having temper tantrums, for example. But that doesn't do much to get the blood pounding or the libido blazing. It doesn't have that pounding, elemental power of human sexuality that centers you in the moment, in the wonderful feeling of moving your body it takes to carry you through washing windows.
So, as I look up from the computer at the morning sun shining through the oh-so-clean windows, unmarred by even the tiniest streak, I can smile, and raise my cup of black coffee in a toast to Sterling and sexuality. Because the better lessons of sex is not that we are evil for having sexual urges, or that God will frown or punish us for them, but to exalt in the humanity of it, in the energy of it, the JOY of it, because we all share it, so long as we control and direct it positively, and do not lose that control of it.
Sex, and even lust is not dirty, especially not if you use it with a little Windex. Because, in the wise words of a religious man from the second century, cleanliness is next to godliness, in mind and body. It is the attitude that sex and sexual impulses are evil except for the narrowest possible expression which makes it dirty and sin-foul. If I may be allowed a somewhat loose translation that conveys the meaning more than the precise equivalent word for word, the motto of the order of the garter is that the evil is in the mind of the person who seeks to find evil, in things, in actions; an example would be the pseudo-purity espoused by people like O'Donnell that equates auto-eroticism with adultery.
I hope you enjoyed 'Sex and Windex'; other titles I considered were 'Lust and Dusting', and ............well, I will leave it to readers to come up with their own, because my list is too long to share here, and in any case was probably deficient in masculine chores that were analogous. Have your own fun with it, and try to be aware of all the ways in which sexuality enriches our lives and mundane experience.
Or, if you are having trouble putting down your beverage and walking away from the computer, if you are procrastinating your own tedious tasks, you might want to check out the youtube video of Mick Sterling, performing "You Don't Know What Dirty Is".
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