Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

A Few Reproductive Truisms You Never Studied in Science ClassDust bunnies breed like rabbits, and anyone who ever engaged in spring cleaning can attest to this truth. I don’t care what they teach in Biology 101. I’m here to tell you that dust is living matter that can reproduce faster than mold on stale bread.

The process works like this: One strand of dust becomes two strands. Then four strands. Then a dozen strands. Then three-jillion, two-billion strands that travel en masse at the speed of light, begetting infant strands capable of reaching puberty, then adulthood, before you can say “Swiffer.”

My wife disagrees with this ironclad fact, possibly because she contends that “spring” cleaning is a year-round endeavor. Dusting, she claims, has no official season. Regular as clockwork, the cruel woman goes about our house killing strands of baby dust before they can draw a second breath.

I am much more humane. Just check out my office, which I dutifully clean every third or fourth spring.

Come to think of it, dust isn’t the only inanimate object that procreates. I discovered this phenomenon during the COVID crisis. While scientists around the world labored 24/7 to develop an injection for coronavirus, I watched a strange population explosion occur in my own house.

I speak of cardboard boxes — XXS to XXL.

Seems like every other day during the worst of Covid, our doorbell would ring. No matter how promptly I answered, all I could see was a cardboard box on the doorstep and a Fed Ex or UPS driver hastily retreating to the truck.

Even before I realized how quickly cardboard boxes proliferate, I learned to never judge one by its contents. If Mary Ann or I ordered, say, a pair of toothbrushes, they might arrive in a cardboard crate spacious enough to ship a piano. Go figure.

Not only do cardboard boxes reproduce rapidly, they do it in hiding. Shove two or three boxes into the hall closet, close the door, wait one week, then reopen the door. Twenty will come tumbling out. Is it asking too much to insist they practice birth control?

This time of year, another miracle of birth invariably occurs. Happens a day or two after Peter Cottontail comes hopping down the bunny trail. Before the last Cadbury egg is consumed, pieces of reflective Easter basket grass will start showing up in odd places. Maybe in the living room, maybe in the backyard, maybe in the garage.

Unlike boxes and dust bunnies, Easter basket grass doesn’t breed quickly, nor in large numbers. Just a single sliver here, another there. 

But what Easter basket grass lacks in size and quantity, it makes up for in tenacity. You’re just as likely to spot a shiny flicker of it next Christmas as the middle of next week.

I might even find some hiding in my office when spring-cleaning season rolls around — in a year or two.

Sam Venable is an author, comedic entertainer, and humor columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. His latest book is
“The Joke’s on YOU! (All I Did Was Clean Out My Files).” He may be reached at