As I prepare to write my germaphobia blog, I realized my hand was stuck to my mouse. Now, if I had been reaching down to grab the bleach under the sink, this would be the mouse of the critter variety and I would be dead of a heart attack and not sharing with you today. But this, dear readers, was a computer mouse variety and I expect the source of the stickiness was the child who shares half my DNA and is of the male species, my eight year old son.
Since my progeny started developing interests similar to mine, the piano, the computer, my camera, the stereo, I have noticed random surfaces in my house have the veneer of honey with a jelly undercoat with top notes of rubber cement in the drying process. Even after a winter storm, the door handle of our van was sticky enough to rip my woolly mitten right off in the worst deep freeze of February, and probably a swab to that door handle would have produced more bacteria than say, the UW Madison surface borne virus lab.
During a recent family game night, my son drew the question "On What Occasion do People Frequently Lie?" Without missing a beat, he answered "When someone asks you if you washed your hands." Which, though scoring a win for the round as the best answer, got him dipped in bleach for his trouble.
I started to think we missed some crucial lesson in the Purrel Parenting Generation handbook. Where did we go wrong? How did two germaphobes raise a boy so careless with the cleanliness of his hands?
Sidebar alert: Dental Hygiene
After child number three, I experienced a lovely side effect that they don't tell you about in the Miracle of Birth myth, bleeding gums. I was pretty sure I was dying of scurvy--3, maybe 6 months to live at best. I forced myself to see a dentist for the cruel diagnosis, the harsh news. Bracing myself, crossing the t's and dotting the i's on my last Will and Testament, the dentist looked me straight in the eye and said, "You are brushing your teeth way too hard. I'm going to give you a toddler brush and ask that you start brushing lefty so you can let your gums recover. Drawing blood while brushing is bad."
I didn't know it was possible to brush your teeth too hard. I was quite sure we have all been taught, as children, to dip your 60 bristle "hard" brush in a solution of bleach, ammonia and lye, and pressure scrub each and every tooth at the gum line until the bristles turn pink. Then, rinse and spit. Pink was good, gushing red, was the death knell.
Realizing that germaphobe roots are properly and most effectively, taught in childhood. I'm pinpointing this quality again, with my Grandma Gukich, who never ever stopped moving: cleaning, wiping, sanitizing, recycling, all with her coat on in case there was a fire. When we would stay at her house for two weeks in the summer she would start her day at 5 a.m....by vacuuming...around the kids sleeping on the floor. Then, she'd feign surprise that she woke us.
Steve and I both have a healthy dose of deep rooted germaphobia. Back in our a courtin' days, I came home one night to find him removing that stubborn cooking grease by scrubbing the kitchen with lighter fluid. As I gazed through his safety goggles into his misty, blood-shot eyes, I knew I had found my soul mate. As I held his heavy duty Gortex gloved hand in mine, I lost the top layer of epidermis on my palm, but happily, accepted his proposal. Greenability be damned, this is grease and dirt removal at its most effective. My special nickname for my beloved, Agent Orange, was bestowed with admiration 'cause sometimes you just need a a little Dow Chemical in your life. But just a little, 'cause a lot is flammable and irritates your eyes.
Ironically, we've chosen to feather our nest in Shorewood, the epicenter of all that is green and natural in the modern world. Where you can get your house egged, although with free-range vegan brown eggs, if you happen to drive an SUV. You can get picketed if you are ballsy enough to have ChemLawn come spray your lawn. Fortunately, Steve designs hybrid car batteries so that passes the muster with the green people and cancels out my stocking up on the Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner, assuring a healthy stock report at Dow chemical as long as I'm the decision maker. We still sanitize with lighter fluid, but only after Asian cooking and under the cover of night. His Greenable Career Choice serves a perfect Beard for my soft spot for germ killing chemical cleaners.
In the Shorewood public schools, always at the forefront in educating children on things they really should be learning at home, children are repeatedly squirted with antibacterial alcohol-laden waterless goo throughout the day. Before snack, after craft, after recess, after potty, heck, if they just piss you off! You don't need a good reason to squirt a kid with Purrel in the public schools. My son repeatedly told me of a classmate who, unfamiliar with the Super Goo, would take the dollop in his hands and rub it vigorously into face jamming it into his eyes and mouth. Now, legally blind, the kids remind that clueless boy to just rub his hands together, but he has served as an example of a cautionary tale to all the children--Vision? Schmision! Don't leave your fecal matter on my juicebox!!
But yet, my son has chosen to ignore all the clues and parental guidance that tells him germs, plus hands, sprinkled with boogers and poop with a smack of grape jelly is a social taboo at best, at worst, a pubic health risk. Then, I saw this recent article in the Milwaukee Journal that led me to believe that most of the gen pop is clueless when it comes to the Venn diagram of social graces and germs:
From the Milwaukee Journal Cue Section, February 7, 2009
"Don't Behave like a Dumbbell at the Gym"
In addition to sparkling gems like: "Grunting is fine, screaming is not," the author of the article felt it necessary to include this "reminder" about social graces:
"Pubic nudity is a fact of life in a locker room or open shower, but few people will want to have a deep conversation with you standing there in your birthday suit. Also if you must sit down on a bench while in the buff, put a towel down first."
Ok, I haven't been to a "gym" since about 1995 when I went to meet friends at Bucca's on Van Buren and accidentally entered Bally's next door. The pungent odor, the grunting, the screaming, the attire, the sweating guests, the flossing, the lack of carbs, I thought, what mad scientist thinks this is a good atmosphere for family style Italian dining, then realized I had miscalculated the entrance. After realizing I was in a gym, I thought it ironic that these places tout themselves as "Health clubs," when something like "Petri Dishes," might be more accurate. I understand from the article that a gym is a place where nudity is unavoidable and sitting your nude business on a wooden bench is common enough that the JOURNAL SENTINEL needs to tell you that's a social no no.
The thought that right next to fine Italian dining, where Dino Martin croons from the speakers as you enjoy garlic-laden lasagna family style, people were casually sitting naked on wooden benches, flossing their teeth and trying to strike up conversations with strangers was so shocking to me, it made me wonder what other abhorrent behavior was going on next door? I could feel the germs pouring in through the ventilation system. What could be worse? Then the article continued:
"Finally, in the men's locker room, there is the phenomenon of naked shaving in which the only thing that needs to be exposed is the face, yet there is so much more exposed...No one wants you to be leaning up against the sink with your stuff out."
Shaving without even your gutchies?? The article didn't say outright these offenses were almost 99% of the time perpetrated by Men who were presumed once to be eight year old Boys, but I think its clear that for the most part, women are just not this groady. I think the article held back a bit so I'm taking up the torch here to encourage sponsorship of a bill allowing witnesses to such atrocities to randomly douse "their stuff" in Purrell, or even lighter fluid, if you are in violation of germ spreading rule of etiquette. Emily Post never addressed this, thank God the Journal has.
Pandemic, get your Pandemic!!
Enter stage right, Swine Flu
The latest virus sweeping the nation at alarming rates, the serious flu with the goofy name, the Swine Flu. Now, swine flu is no laughing matter despite its name. The media, in its zeal to induce panic and fear, wants to stomp out any jokes that make note of the reference to Swines and demanded people call it by its scientific name H1N1, immediately nicknamed "Heiney flu." if you are unfortunate enough to contract the Swine Heiney flu, you risk people emailing you with get well wishes sprinkled with the emoctation " :@0 "
Trust me, the media is very hacked off about people making light of the Pandemic, get your Pandemic, and continues to broadcast warnings from illustrious leaders in the health community, like Oprah and Kirstie Alley, that bring us the following steps to save ourselves from certain death:
Don't sneeze on people
Don't spit on people
Don't fart at people
Wash your hands
Long enough to get them wet
I see why these experts rate the big bucks. Also agree we should be afraid--very very afraid. The only way to fight the pandemic is to get the gen pop to wash their hands. People, we are doomed. This is the Seventh Sign. Clearly, we cannot rely on people to wash their hands. We must take the next step and empower mothers everywhere to shoot lemon scented Scrubbing Bubbles on anyone who leans their bare business on a public sink. I predict it will only take one such public shaming before germs everywhere give up the fight.
I'd like to get my own spot on the Today Show and add these little Germ Fighting Tips:
Don't go in Public, but if it can't be avoided, When you are in Public, Don't appear there Naked. For any reason. Or talk to people. Or floss or shave. Or put lipstick on at the table. Or put lipstick on a pig at the table. Ever.
Go nuts using copious amounts of cushioned toilet paper; ignore the Greenies temporarily on this one
Don't sit on anything naked, not even the toilet--Hey, even Great Danes should wear gutchies
Seal your windows and doors by having 8 year old boys run their grimy hands along the ledges. Enlist your local Cub Scouts to do this as a service project for seniors get some good press out of it.
Use your recently-won-on-Ebay Dyson DC18 to suction the noses dry on all of your kids before appearing fully clothed in public. The clear view receptacle will show you what you caught, kinda cool.
Everything 80s is relevant again so dust off your blacklight from your college Pink Flloyd-Jimmi Hendrix haze days, carry it with you. Make a swath over random strangers and if they show a high concentration of "glowing fluids" slap a quarantine sign on them and deputize yourself in the fight against germs.
And most importantly:
Carry some antibacterial product with you at all times, I recommend, bleach, Purrell, lighter fluid, Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom cleaner-- feel free to randomly squirt little boys and grown men who spit in public, touch your computer mouse after eating a jelly sandwich, pick their nose. As a reminder, Oink! loudly and clearly so the offending party knows you're acting in the interest of the Public Health. Not just for the swine flu, but for shits and giggles everywhere, squirt them, squirt them all!!
Up Next: Grassroots movement for a "Sin tax" on Chewing Gum and you all know why.