One of the kids was sick recently, so now I am two sneezes and one sticky grocery cart away from being a full-fledged germaphobe.
I have anti-bacterial wipes in my purse, a tube of sanitizing gel in the car and gallon-size pump bottles of Purell in every room of the house.
I've cleaned the doorknobs, wiped down the landline phones, the cell phones, all the remote controls and the light switches.
Oh yes, and the doorbell. And the steering wheel to the car. And the handrail to the stairs.
I wouldn't say I'm panicked, but I have Clorox customer service on speed dial.
I have also suspended the 3-second rule. If food falls on the floor, it stays on the floor. I have also written my congressman demanding legislation making double dipping a capital crime.
Am I paranoid, you ask? When Moammar Gadhafi addressed the United Nations and said something about swine flu and then wondered if fish flu would be next, some people thought he was doing stand-up comedy. I thought he was talking directly to me. Swine flu, fish flu, bird flu, turtle flu, cricket flu, weasel flu, they're all out there, lurking, just waiting.
The husband claims I crossed the line the fifteenth time I watched the You Tube video of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demonstrating the proper way to sneeze, which is to bury your face in the crook of the arm.
"OK, and then what?" the husband asked. "What are you going to do with that stuff on your sleeve?"
"I'll tell you what," I snapped. "You're going to rip your sleeve off your shirt. That's right, rip off your sleeve and throw it away, because it is now germ infested and you don't want to wear it the rest of the day."
"You think Sebelius ripped the sleeve off that expensive red suit?"
"Definitely," I said. "She just did it after the camera stopped taping."
Personally, the husband and I thought the tissue method followed by washing your hands was good, but what do we know, I'm not a secretary and he's not a czar.
Besides, the biggest problem is public restrooms. Any germaphobe knows you don't want to touch the door handle because a lot of people who didn't wash their hands have touched it before you.
It used to be that you could use a paper towel to open the door, but now a lot of restrooms use hand dryers. (We're saving the trees by consuming electricity.) It's difficult to knock a hand dryer off the wall and use it to open the door.
Germaphobes are reduced to the pinkie technique. You use your little finger to open the door hoping the surface area of the finger is too small to attract germs. The only other alternative is to pretend to fumble for something in your purse hoping someone else will open the door, you can give it a quick kick before it closes and slide on through.
Is all this prevention working, you ask? Absolutely. Of course, it's a little chilly wearing a shirt with both the sleeves ripped off and you'd be surprised how many strangers get indignant when you force anti-bacterial hand wipes on them, but other than that, I am perfectly fine.
At least physically.
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