Hi. I’m Nell. And I’m a germophobe.
Hi Nelllll, repeat all the sad-sack germophobes in unison as they each squirt a lake of antibacterial soap from their pocket into their clammy palms, vigorously rubbing them together like praying mantis with Tourettes. (Mantises? Manti? The hell is plural for “mantis”? Only I would have to know this. Life as I know it will stop if I don’t find out. Help!) You know, antibacterial soap looks a LOT like saliva. It’s clear and kind of stringy-gooey. What if that’s what it is? That would be hilarious. And revolting. But hilarious, first. I rarely use the stuff since I believe in the war it’s raging on our own natural antibodies. Or something like that.
So. Back to the backdrop for my germophobe rant: Yesterday, I took Kellan to a story hour at a local public library.
Oh em geeeee! What fun! Did he love the books being read? Did he get to play with the other kids? Did he…
SILENCE! I will humor none of that nonsense. My stubby index just pushed up against your lips, causing mush mouth.
All I could think about the whole time I was at the story hour: I wonder what strain of the flu Kellan will have in 24-36 hours. I better fill the steam cleaner with water and schlep it up to his bedroom for his incessant barfing that’s sure to ensue. I ought to stop at Wegmans for Theraflu for when my husband catches it. I won’t catch it, I have the immunity of a superhuman. I have “Elite Plus” health insurance. What about the dog? Can I pour Theraflu on Moe’s kibble? Can dogs catch the flu? Can he pass it to the annoying neighborhood dogs who won’t stop barking past Kellan’s bedtime? And so on. This is how my brain meat works.
None of the niceties register in it. The taking my child to a place where he can sing, dance and play with other kids part. The circling around with other children to listen intently to a sweet, plump, old librarian lady’s crackling voice imitating a braying donkey part. The enormous, ear-to-ear, glowing grin on Kellan’s face part. Nope. None of it. Just the germs. Germs on the brain. “This is your brain on germs.” OK. Got it.
Since the day Kellan was born, I have felt like I’m wearing night vision germ goggles when I’m out in public. I’m almost 110% sure the nurse slipped a pair into my bag when we left the hospital with our new bundle of joy. (Don’t you hate when ad people use 110% – I thought everything was out of 100%? What the hell? 110% out of what number, exactly? You and your product have just lost all credibility.)
Now, every time a kid sneezes I can see the attacking germs parachuting out of nostrils with their AK47s thanks to my goggles. I have even caught myself holding my breath at times if I’m near (within 10 steps approximately) a suspicious/could-be-sick kid. That little boy’s eyes look awfully watery. That’s it. Shut off my lungs. I’m done breathing. Until… Must. Get. Air. Must. Leave. Room. *Pass out.*
Seriously. I need help. When Kellan was only weeks old, I was so conscious of everything I touched that if I had to shake a hand at work (gawd forbid) I would have to wash it within a half hour or my palm skin would start burning (in my head). And if the filth sat there long enough on my hand, it’d absorb into my blood stream (obviously) and I was still nursing Kellan at the time so I envisioned it going right into my milk and right into my child. You see the logic there. It all makes sense [to a whack-job].
I thought I was on the road to recovery – washing my hands less compulsively as he’s gotten older – but obviously from the anxiety thunderstorm in my noggin yesterday, I realize a new set of germ fears has arrived and unpacked a ridiculous amount of scaredy-cat luggage. Great. Giddyup. Maybe I’ll start packing my pockets with the antibacterial saliva solution after all.