I have no doubt, WD40, that whatever is in you will eventually kill us all. And yet I use you all the time, in almost every instance possible.

Like today, when my wife wanted the outdoor hose spigot removed and, realizing the likelihood of me taking the initiative, headed out the door with a flash of pique and a completely inappropriate wrench, I went straight to you. I knew the spigot, painted decades ago the same color as the house, and merely thinking of trying to crack its seal without you made my back ache, my soul wilt. You were the only thing in the house with the potential to save me, and you worked, by God, making me look like a genius and a hero. You surprise and delight me every time.

By the way, what’s up with your nozzle? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through even half of you before the sprayer gets clogged and I have to buy another can. Perhaps this is your manufacturer’s shrewdness at work. Why bother to fix it if they keep coming back? Good point, and I will.

The other day, when I found the slide-out mechanism of my hand truck uncooperative, I almost squealed with the opportunity to use you. It was an easy one, mere incidental contact with your magical formula making those rusty pieces slick and giving. That hand truck was back to new before I got the first whiff of your enveloping metallic scent. Better than new.

Still, I wonder what the price is for all this cheap, seemingly miracle-working lubrication. I can’t believe it’s only the $2.99 your bar code summons from the express lane check-out at Home Depot. (That price is an insult, by the way. Yours is the power greater men have sold their souls for.) There’s something more going on here, something someone’s grandchild is going to pay dearly for. Know, future chemically-impinged reader, at least your malady brought me untold joy, which might make it seem a little less pointless.

A conscientious citizen might blow the whistle on you, Dub-D, but I never will. Abiding is for lessor formulas. You make life too easy, too viscous. You will always be my devilish secret, my hubby’s little helper, my eco-sin. Others have plastic grocery bags, I have you.


ART EDWARDS's third novel, Badge (2014), was named a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association's Literary Contest for 2011. His second novel, Ghost Notes, released on his own imprint Defunct Press in 2008, won the 2009 PODBRAM Award for best work of contemporary fiction. His first novel, Stuck Outside of Phoenix, has been made into a feature film. His writing has or will appear in The Writer, Writers' Journal and Pear Noir!, and online at Salon, The Los Angeles Review, Word Riot, The Collagist, PANK, JMWW, Bartleby Snopes, The Rumpus and The Weeklings. In the 1990s he was co-founder, co-songwriter and bass player with the Refreshments.

25 responses to “To WD40, Eco-Horror”

  1. SAA says:

    No lie, my boyfriend tries to use WD-40 as cologne on occasion, he claims to love the way it smells.

  2. Gloria says:

    Hey, can I borrow your WD-40? My car doors are squeaking and my bicycle is tight and noisy just about everywhere (I hear this doesn’t happen if you use it more.)

    Before I started my current job, I was a receptionist at a chemical distribution plant. They had vats of WD-40. They sold it in drums. So, you know, if you ever want to swim in the stuff, I’ll let you know where the secret stash is located. I once asked what the stuff was made out of and I was told, ver batum, that it’s “an industry secret.” I can tell you for sure that it’s made mostly of petroleum and the hope of our future children.

  3. Mary Richert says:

    I feel like your wife and I would get along. I, too, tackle every problem with a flash of pique and a completely inappropriate wrench. You know what inappropriate wrenches are good for? Hitting things. And people. Just sayin.

    • Art Edwards says:

      I’ve said for a long time the only things a women really gets from a man is love and–if they’re lucky–an ability to fix a few things. Thanks to Dub-D, that wrench stays in the toolbox most of the time around our place.

  4. Joe Daly says:


    You’re sort of freaking me out here- the musician who is also handy around the house. What’s the punchline?

    • Art Edwards says:

      Ha! Clearly sci-fi/fantasy. Where do I come up with this stuff?

      If the overall tenor of this post is that I’m handy around the house then I have indeed misled you. I’m a C at best around the house, and I have to really study to get that.

      Once a musician…

  5. amanda says:

    I like to leave the house with a completely inappropriate wench.

    and who doesn’t love a thing that makes life both too easy and too viscous? sir, you have me there. although, i am a huge fan of 3-in-1 myself. just sayin’.

    damn, amanda. must everything sound sexual? geez.

  6. Nothing about WD-40’s ability to catch catfish? All over the south, fishermen spray the stuff around their lines and in the wake of their boats to attract cats…no lie. One of the ingredients is some kind of fish oil.

  7. Tom Hansen says:

    I always heard that WD-40 was jet fuel. That was the rumor in my childhood

  8. Irene Zion says:

    WD 40 is wonderful, Art.
    I’m also partial to “Goof Off,” although for different impossible uses.

  9. […] essays to TNB, many of which focus on (and reveal his love for) music, though others reveal his love for more pedestrian interests. In any case, until recently, Art was known to the TNB community as a writer – and most assuredly […]

  10. Erika Rae says:

    I love how you talk to your various cleansers and lubricants – and particularly those with Letters and Numbers for names. You know, it’s a good thing that VO5 ran out so quickly, for she was sure to leave you for WD40 with that jaunty red beret and silky smooth touch. Like a sensitive military policeman.

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