By Jenny Hills
(Knight-Rider) Boulder, Colo. — Claudine Galviston always tried to protect her son Jack from the evils of the world. She only bought organic foods. No sodas. No sweetened breakfast cereal. No potato chips. She only rented edited copies of blockbuster movies from her local church. No nudity. No cursing. No lewd or crude behavior. And she tried to protect her children from the influence of secular ideas. No Darwin. No Freud. No Kinsey.
But during a routine search of her youngest son’s clothes for drugs, Galviston came face-to-face with her biggest fear. She had failed to steer her son away from danger. Inside of Jack’s pants pocket, this Boulder mother found a thumbtack-sized ball of lint. Frantically, she began to search the pockets of all of Jack’s clothes. Each investigation only confirmed her deepest fears. Galviston found more and more lint, enough to fill a small salt shaker. The son she had so purposely steered away from society’s ills had fallen under the sinister spell of the newest high to sweep the nation — dryer lint smoking.
Like many Americans, Galviston didn’t know about the dangers lurking in her laundry room. However, a television news show changed all that. Now she knows about this new threat to her family. Unfortunately, it may have been too late. “What’s a parent to do? How am I supposed to protect my babies?” Galviston asks. “I haven’t felt this helpless since I caught my daughter chatting with a boy on the internet. She said he was in her trig class, but I knew better.”
A recent study released by researchers at the Texas Institute of Technology has discovered a truth that many have long feared — America’s teens have greater access to dryer lint than alcohol and marijuana. According to the report, an astonishing 87 percent of all teens polled said they had easy access to a dryer, while only 68 and 41 percent said they had similar access to alcohol and marijuana, respectively.
While many are shocked by the figures, the man who started the entire dryer lint-smoking phenomenon, Wyatt Duvall, is startled for different reasons entirely. “I would like to see some explanation why the numbers are so low,” says Duvall, the owner of the rapidly expanding Wyatt Sheets chain of laundromats. “I understand that these are hard economic times, but reports like this really make me wonder about the type of parents we have these days. Clean clothes rank up there with adequate shelter and regular meals.”
Duvall adds, “The problem isn’t that young folks are smoking dryer lint. It’s that we’ve got these little pig sties in our schools. That’s why test scores are down. What student can concentrate on the Pythagorean Theorem and logical syllogisms when Lucy Landfill sitting next to them smells worse than Ogre the Offensive Lineman’s lucky jockstrap?”
Despite the efforts being made by educators at the local, state, and national levels, the number of teenagers and young adults who use dryer lint continues to grow. As a result, former Drug Czar Bill Benoit is urging school boards across the national to immediately adopt dryer lint education programs.
“Parents need to abandon all their preconceived notions about the laundry room. It’s not a clean place. It’s a den of soiled clothes and soiled souls,” Benoit says. “A little Woolite and the delicate cycle might work for silk panties, hose, and a lace cami, but that’s not how we address this problem.”
However, Benoit acknowledges that parents and educators may face an uphill battle. The reason: dryer lint smoking is legal. “If we hope to stop the spread of this problem, we must apply the hot iron of justice to this wrinkle in the law,” he says. “There is no more pressing issue in this country today.”
Scientists across the country are currently conducting research on dryer lint to examine its effects on the central nervous and respiratory systems. Although studies have yet to confirm the exact effects of dryer lint smoking, anecdotal evidences indicates that abuse causes temporary blindness, respiratory failure, aneurysms, temporary amnesia, sleeplessness, and aggressive behavior.
To combat the growing threat, some families are resorting to drastic tactics. “We no longer have a washer and dryer in our house,” says Ricky Marconi, an architect at the firm of Marconi + Destailleur + Marchant and the proud father of triplets. “We send all of our clothes to the cleaners.”
Marconi adds, “It’s more expensive, but it’s a small price to pay to protect our children.”
Unfortunately, some parents can’t afford to pay someone to wash away their fears. They have to take matters into their own hands. “I wash all of our clothes by hand now, and I hang them on the line,” says Gabby Jefferson, a Boulder mother raising her one-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. “I have tendonitis in both hands, so it makes it hard to get through an entire load, but I manage. I know my daughter is young, but I never want her to be tempted by that kind of life.”
Sadly, Jefferson has seen the effects of dryer lint abuse firsthand. For three weeks, she was a linthead.
“Sometimes I’d go through five, maybe six rolls of quarters a day,” Jefferson says. “One time the cops found me at Wyatt Sheets curled up in a dryer covered in dryer sheets. The door was shut, and it was set to high. I could have died.”
Before she began abusing dryer lint, Jefferson got pregnant by a vendor who serviced the snack machines at Wyatt Sheets. It was this man that introduced Jefferson to smoking lint.
“I thought he had it all. He always had plenty of change in his pocket, and he had the inside track on all the laundromats in town. He knew what dryers produced the most lint. He knew what brand of dryer sheets got you the best highs,” Jefferson says. “We called him the Maytag man.”
Their relationship ended one night when Jefferson caught him at one of their favorite haunts. He was helping another woman fold her clothes. Months later, she gave birth to Elizabeth. “I was pushing and pushing, but Elizabeth just wouldn’t budge an inch,” Jefferson says. “The doc said my cervix wasn’t dilated enough, but I knew better. It was static cling.”
Eventually, the doctor was forced to perform a C-section, and Elizabeth was born undersized. In fact, she was smaller than when her doctor had examined her before. “I’ve seen it happen to wool sweaters and stuff, but I didn’t know that a baby could shrink like that,” Jefferson says, tears welling up in her eyes.
Months later, Elizabeth has reached average size. The only indication that she was once a lint-baby is the light blue tint to her skin. Jefferson has since taken to calling her daughter Smurfette.
As for Jefferson herself, life is as fresh and new as a spring day in the pine-scented mountains. “My clothes may be dirty, but my body is clean. I’m finally free from the lint trap.”
For Claudine Galviston, her troubles are far from over. Her son Jack is now in a drug abuse rehabilitation center where he is getting treatment for his addiction. Until the day Jack is released, Galviston stays at home and prays for his return. And her redemption.