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The Word of the Day is “crud.”

Already with the digressions. Does anyone remember “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”? Terribly annoying kiddie show featuring Don-Knotts look-a-like nebbish Pee Wee Herman, a load of anthropomorphic furniture, and a lot of irritating noises? Do you remember how he would declare a Word of the Day at the beginning of each show, and whenever anyone spoke the word of the day, everyone else around would start hollering and making a big, ol’ hairy scene? Well, I have been mentally treating each Alphabytes entry like Pee Wee’s word of the day. So, whenever I type or think the Alphabytes word, I mentally holler and hoot and make a big fuss.

Anyway. Crud. There’s a whole heap o’ crud out there in this wide and wonderful world. I used some crud known as henna to dye my hair this past weekend. Henna hair-dye is much like making a giant mud-pie and slathering it all over your head and wearing it for a few hours. I can’t think of a more delightful means of changing one’s hair color.

Last night, I fished a whole bundle of crud out of the bathtub drain. This crud was mainly hair and soap scum, but it was definitely cruddy. Bathtub-drain muck is one of those truly loathsome substances. It looks like Swamp Goo from some old B-grade horror-movie and smells like the ass-end of a perm in hell.

Pretty much any slimy, squishy, possibly partially crusty substance could be a crud. Boogers qualify. The sludge at the bottom of an oil-changing pan qualifies. The shit that collects up in the storm gutters on your house qualifies. Pretty much any semi-identifiable, disgusting substance is crud.

Crud is also a fine label for any minor, yet unidentifiable ailment, like a light cold, mysterious allergies, a rash which came unexpectedly, or the malaise that attacks on Thursday mornings which should be Saturday mornings, yet you inexplicably must arise and hie to work for two more days.

There are lots of fun synonyms for “crud.” Crap, for instance. It carries more scatological connotations, but suits as a general noun for rubbish or yuck. Sludge is a pretty good synonym for certain classes of crud, but even better is slote, which is the Old High German root-word for sludge. Todd discovered the existence of “slote” while doing research for a piece he was writing, and decided it was high time to re-introduce it to the language. Given my background in Old English, we determined that it should probably be pronounced with a long o in the middle and a “schwa-sound” on the end (slow-tuh). We generally use “slote”
to denote the slurry of dormant yeast, soggy hops shreds, and un-useable beer in the bottom of the carboy at the end of a beer-brewing.

I use the nonsense word “grum” to describe the kind of crud that is best dealt with by vacuum-cleaning. This included catwads, dust-bunnies, that film of dust-and-fuzz that forms along the skirting-boards, and any loose sand, gravel, crumbs, thread-snips, and plant leaves that one might encounter. As you might divine from the above description, I don’t vacuum as often as I might. I hate the noise the vacuum makes almost as much as the cats do, and for some reason it seems like such a hassle to drag it out, schlep it around the house, shove furniture around, and repeatedly pull oversized plant leaves, old receipts, egregious wads of hair, etc., out of the vacuum hose. I think that if one has a Shop Vac, which has the power to suck up everything short of the Encyclopedia Britannica, it should come with a wider hose that doesn’t choke up over little stuff like Peace Lily leaves and thrift-shop tags.

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