Friday, January 18, 2013


Sometimes I think about all the boys I kissed in college. It's a long list, so I don't linger over it. It's not about the boys but the kissing--all that swapped spit, all those people. It's a wonder that I, and the rest of the alcohol-fueled kissing culture, weren't laid flat by illness all the time. College should have been one giant Petri dish, but I can recall only two non-cold illnesses in four years. It must have been the disinfectant properties of the beer. That's my hypothesis anyhow.

I obviously wasn't a germaphobe back then. I think it was motherhood that did it to me.

I'm not the public restroom type of germaphobe. While I don't want to spend a lot of time in such places, general nastiness is not my hangup. My mania centers around shopping carts, PIN pads, and retailer pens--items touched by many people, where the average cold, flu, or other virus might be lurking. Of course I don't want to be sick, but that's not the primary issue.

The real problem is two-fold. First, I don't have time to be sick. When Mom is sick, the whole operation shuts down. Second, and more importantly, I don't want my kids to be sick. I hate to see them feel bad, and it's a lot of work for me. I mean, when kids are sick, they need to miss school. What better reason to carry hand sanitizer (and your own pen) everywhere you go?

Hand sanitizer is a staple. We have some in each bathroom and in the kitchen next to the box of tissues. I also have a travel size one in both my purse and the car. The minute I get into the car from any retail transaction, I whip out the hand sanitizer to eliminate whatever I unwittingly picked up while shopping. I'm also an offensive player in the war against germs--I always use hand sanitizer after blowing my nose or touching my nose or mouth, so I'm looking out for the rest of you.

In our house, we don't share drinks or take bites of each other's food, even when everyone is apparently healthy. Why take the risk? Get another cup, for goodness sake. I still kiss the kids goodnight when one of us is sick, but only on the forehead, away from the germ-receptor areas. My son has a mild cold today; at one point I instructed him not to breathe on me. He thought that was the peak of hilarity. I wasn't joking. You may say I'm neurotic; I say I'm using common sense to keep sick days to a minimum.

While I once kissed boys willy-nilly, I won't even share a room with the one I married if he has the slightest indication of potential illness. At the first sniffle, I'm off to the guest room for a couple weeks until he is well and the bedding can be thoroughly washed.

My husband has a cold. He worked from home today, mostly from the living room couch. I stayed two rooms away at all times. We drove up to New Hampshire for the weekend--in two separate cars, because why should the kids and I breathe his virus-laden recycled air for four hours? What good could come of that? He just sucked down some Nyquil and disappeared for the night. I've already removed all my belongings from the master bedroom and will be sleeping elsewhere tonight. After he went to bed, I plopped down in the pleather recliner he'd been sitting in for the last several hours--but not without wiping it down with a disinfectant wipe first.  A girl can never be too careful, especially when it comes to viruses.

If you live nearby, and I haven't seen you or your children lately, it might be because of our busy schedule. It also might be because I heard someone in your family was sick recently. From October through March, I'm acutely aware of every germ-passing opportunity and seek to avoid them like the plague (or at least like the common cold). I'd love to spend some time with you and your little Petri dishes once the weather clears up and everyone can play outdoors. Until then, I'll be in a room by myself with my hand sanitizer.

1 comment:

  1. Just to add to your neurosis...Michael shared an article (I think from the Times) that explained that hand sanitizer has little to no effect against norovirus/stomach bug. Doesn't that make you feel better? So I've opted to not use shopping carts and instead, buy smaller amounts that I can carry in my reusable bags right through to check out :-) Now how is that for neurotic?