A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I drove out of town for one of his poetry readings and at the event, he introduced me to a woman there. I reached out my hand to shake hers and what I got in return was mannequin hand. Like she was repulsed that I would do something so horrendous like touch her skin that instead of gripping her hand around mine, and proceeding to lift and drop it in an up-and-down motion, she kept her hand stiff until I let go.
I’ve thought about that and wondered if it was about swine flu or if the woman just didn’t get what it’s like to live in society where you interact with people and sometimes in these interactions YOU SHAKE HANDS. I’ve refused handshakes in the past, but only because my hand was seconds before rifling through a bag of honey mustard potato chips or I had just washed them and they weren’t as dry as I thought they were and it’s awkward to explain that no, I’m not sweaty, my hands are just wet and it’s very nice to meet you.
Whenever I see infant car seats with a tag that says, “Please Wash Your Hands Before Touching Mine,” I roll my eyes because it automatically assumes two things: 1) That I will touch your baby and 2) THAT I KNOW HOW TO READ! Don’t jump to the conclusion that Hooked On Phonics worked for me, I still have trouble with the schwa. I think my tapes were defective. I know that people can do whatever they want with their own babies and sometimes there are very real medical reasons why their children need to be protected and that perhaps they don’t want sickly swine-flu infested strangers touching their babies’ hands, but COME ON.
I watched that commercial with the woman who keeps her baby in the glass bubble on the playground because the world is too messy and I wanted to jump into the TV and smash the bubble over her head, especially when she comes around in the end thanks to baby wipes and annoyingly chirps to her now unfettered son, “NO MORE BUBBLE FOR YOUUUU!” Yes, that is what baby wipes are for, that is why we keep them around.
We were having ice cream one night and my mom kept telling me to wipe Nathan’s mouth because it was getting messy and I did not see the point of that because until he was done eating, it was going to be this useless wipedown and repeat when I could just wait and clean at the end. I sighed and did it anyway because I cannot fight my mother on how I should parent my child. I obediently follow her instructions and then when she leaves I revert to how it works for me.
I think I was hyper-concerned about germs when Nathan was just born and I was sleep-deprived and still washing his baby clothes by hand. Now if we’re in the car and Nathan’s hungry, I direct him to eat whatever goldfish crackers are around his seat.
How is it in your household? Do you keep a bottle of Purell with you at all times? Do you observe the five-second rule or five-minute rule?