Washing my hands of washing my hands a lot

Note: This column appears in the 10/21 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/22 issue of the Peoria Times

All of a sudden, my wife is on a mission to ensure that I wash my hands more often.

I’m sure this is at least partially based on the fact that we have a child. Indeed I’ve found myself -- when ill-prepared with resources I should have thought to have at my disposal -- wiping clean the runny nose of our daughter with my bare hands. I remain unconvinced, however, that my wife’s concern with my hand-cleanliness stems from a more general concern for my well being, rather than for her own well-being and that of the aforementioned child.

It has been suggested on several recent occasions that I wash my hands. If I maintain that I have washed my hands recently, the follow-up question is, “Did you use soap?” Most 32-year old men with a lifetime of hand-washing under their hypothetical belts would find this question insulting, although I have been known to simply run my hands under water as a means of rinsing them clean. So I usually relent and head shamefully to the nearest sink.

Even when I do use soap, however, that is often not enough. My wife recently read in one of her parenting/womanly/style magazines that many people do not wash their hands for a long enough period of time. Crisis! A good trick, this magazine insisted, is to say the alphabet as you wash your hands to ensure proper cleanliness. I do not know if this advice was aimed at the children or the disgusting, bumbling husbands of this publication’s readers, but I find it to be preposterous and inconvenient. I therefore protest by singing one verse of a song of my choice while washing up. So there.

One particular point of contention involves the dishes. Before I wash the dishes, of late, my wife has inquired as to whether or not I have washed my hands. Because I consider washing the dishes an indirect form of hand-washing, I do not think it is necessary to do so, as I believe that washing your hands before washing your hands is going a bit overboard. My wife’s counterpoint is that, “We eat with those dishes!” I tell her that I did not drag my hands through mud as I traveled from the table to the sink. We go back and forth like that until I ultimately, because I never win, wash my hands.

Because she works with kids all day, my wife is dedicated to remaining disinfected. I suppose I could become more of a germaphobe myself if I really tried. Whenever I see those commercials where normally invisible germs become a green fog, and travel from child-to-child-to-keyboard-to-adult-to-deathbed, I tell myself that I should probably wash my hands more often. But then I figure, “Whatever. I’ve made it this far.”

Though some may argue with my hygienic habits, one thing I am most certainly not is wasteful. When the straw in one of our soap dispensers can no longer reach the soap, but there is still some soap left in there, I have been known to add some water to mix it. Sure, this dilutes it, but it saves us some soap.

Last week I added water to a small bottle of hand sanitizer that we have in the kitchen. My wife went to use this, while asking me if I was going to wash my hands as we had both just teamed up to clean the extremely runny nose of our little girl. She pushed down the pump and a mix of water and hand sanitizer went all over her clothes.

The way I figured it, at least now she wouldn’t need to wash her shirt.