A Peck of Dirt

handI want to come clean about something:  for many years I did not wash my hands after using a public lavatory.  I’m not sure why I started not doing this.  Perhaps because the keg of Tab and then Diet Coke I consumed daily meant frequent bathroom forays and washing and then drying my hands each time struck me as a real time waster.   Especially hand driers.  They took forever and I was already spending way too much time in the bathroom. (As for these newfangled driers– the ones that make all the loose skin on your hands ripple like a flag in a strong breeze? Yack!)

Of course, I was not raised in a particularly sterile environment.   There was the occasional chia pet growing in our refrigerator and, when my mother and I were baking and I would happen upon a boll weevil in the flour, she would say, “Oh, just think of it as protein!”  And, of course, we had large, slathering dogs.  “You got to eat a peck of dirt before you die!” she would declare, which, by the way, is a whole lot of dirt.

I believe that, as a society, we have gone a tad overboard when it comes to germ warfare – by which I mean warfare on germs.   There’s something to be said for building up your immune system and, let’s face it, poop is everywhere.   You can’t escape death or taxes and you can’t escape poop either. That being said, I hereby publicly acknowledge that hand washing is critical to not spreading germs and that I was very, very wrong to so recklessly endanger my health and that of others with whom I came in contact.  If you were one of my victims, I apologize.

Over time my not hand washing   became my dirty little secret, something I “got away with.”  If I was in a public restroom and there were others present, I would even go so far as to fake washing my hands – running water, crumpling a paper towel.  “Fooled them!” I would think, as I sprinted — unclean — from the bathroom.

Looking back, I’m not remotely sure why I did this.   Perhaps the person who commented on my blog on the BP Oil Spill, “I hate you liberal scum. Just die!” (to which I replied —  in my head –“You just die, preferably at the hand of that four year old who has just discovered the Glock in the unlocked drawer of your bedside table.”) . . . maybe that extremely unpleasant person was correct.  Maybe I am scum.  Or maybe most people need a dirty little secret, one thing they should do that they just defiantly, dammit don’t.

Eventually, of course,  I came to my senses.  Not washing my hands was childish.  I wasn’t getting away with anything; I was being ridiculous and irresponsible.  “Wash your damned hands!” I told myself.  And so I did.  And so I do.   And every time I do, every single time, this is what goes through my head:  “Oh, maybe I’ll just skip. . . . No!  Not on my watch you don’t! March yourself right over to that sink! You heard me! Now!

I hesitate to post this.   On the one hand, it is a post and I have committed to producing three of these a week.  Time is money, after all, and, at my age, time is in increasingly short supply. One composed blog is surely worth two in the noggin.

On the other hand, wouldn’t this post have deeply embarrassed my grandmother?  Well, given the fact that the mere suggestion  she might possibly be the sort of person who kept chickens mortified her, I’d have to say the answer would have to be yes.

On the other other hand, my grandmother has been gone these thirty years — she ate her peck of dirt a long time ago — and when that time comes for me — when I shall have eaten my own  peck of dirt — at least my damn hands will be clean!

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