It’s not like washing our hands is something we only figured out was a thing during this pandemic. We were always supposed to wash our hands regularly. After we went potty, for example, and before we handled food.
I’m not saying I scrub like a surgeon every time, but I consider myself on the hygienic side. I hate when stuff is under my fingernails or when anything is sticky on my hands. If my fingers smell weird, I will wash them. I’m not a germophobe or anything, but I can get sucked into the vortex of you-touched-your-phone-which-you-brought-into-the-bathroom-with-you-and-then-you-touched-the-communal-bread-on-the-table-and-no-thanks-even-though-I’m-craving-yeasty-carbs.
Coronapocalypse has made us all hyper aware of aseptic technique, however, and I do believe my daughter is about fifteen minutes away from walking around with an ultraviolet wand, “just to make sure.”
Case in point: The other day I went to cook some food. I don’t even remember what food I was going to cook, but the pot in which I was going to cook was dirty, so I brought it to the sink to wash it. I put antibacterial soap on a clean sponge, ran it under hot water, scrubbed the whole thing with my bare hands, rinsed it off, then scrubbed it all again with antibacterial dish soap just to make sure I got everything. I then put the pot on the stove and began to cook.
My daughter looked at me as if I had sneezed directly onto the cutting board. “Aren’t you going to wash your hands?”
“I just washed my hands along with the pot. See? They’re still wet.” I held them out so she could feel them if she wanted to.
“That doesn’t count,” she said. “You were washing the pot, not your hands, so you weren’t focusing on your hands.”
My son just happened to be on the phone at the time. He is 700 miles away in college but never hesitates to render an opinion whether or not it is asked of him. “Yeah, Mom. That doesn’t count.”
“What do you mean it doesn’t count? I just spent a full five minutes under hot water with antibacterial soap scrubbing a pot with my hands so that it was clean enough to eat off of, but somehow my hands didn’t get clean in the process? They’re probably cleaner than they’ve been in days.”
Both of my children laughed. “No, that’s not how it works,” said Jacob in another time zone. “When you wash your hands you wash the different parts of your hands. When you are washing the dishes you might not get under your fingernails or your palms.”
My daughter chimed in. “We don’t agree on anything, but we agree on this, so you know it must be objectively correct.”
My jaw hung open. These are the same people who bury all my teaspoons crusted with whatever under their beds because they can’t be bothered putting them in the sink. I regularly have to pry coffee mugs from countertops because whatever they have caused to drip down the sides has dried and cemented the cup to the surface. They were lecturing me about hygiene?
I turned to the sink and pumped about five times the amount of soap into my palm that I would normally use. I soaped my arms all the way up to the elbow and made a big point of individually cleaning underneath each fingernail and stroking each finger to ensure cleanliness. I rinsed off, tore off a paper towel in order to open the towel drawer so as not to contaminate the sterile surface that was now my hands, took out a clean towel, and dried off. “Is this good enough?”
“You don’t have to be so dramatic,” my daughter said.
“Apparently, I do.”
I still think they’re nuts. I will, however, defer to the Court of Public Opinion. I am serious. I want to know what you think. Do you think my hands were clean from doing the dishes, or do you think I needed to wash them afterwards? Let me know. Depending on what you tell me, I will pass the information on to my children.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.