Urgent bathroom follow-ups


That bathroom? At the farmer’s market? That had the faucet that was just running without stop, until I tried to use it? Because those hands-free sensors for bathroom sinks don’t work for me?

They’ve replaced it with an actual physical faucet.

This signifies something and I don’t know what.

Let Me Help You Out With Hand-Washing


So here’s some more on hand-washing. People ask how I, a germ-phobic slightly obsessive person, feel about learning how everyone else hates hand-washing. Like, am I grossed out to learn that other people will wash their hands only for special circumstances, like the discovery of a new Pope? That there’s a sizable contingent of people who figure washing after you pee is just some Puritan nonsense of shaming sexual organs?

Of course not. I know the average person sees washing their hands as a special event. Something that if you did too much would devalue washing or the idea of hands. I wouldn’t have a hand-washing compulsion if I didn’t believe that most of you figure you’ll get a prize for going the whole day without washing. Roughly, since I recovered from being a teenage boy, I have assumed every person and 45 percent of the animals I encounter is a cloud of … things … I must wash off as soon as it’s not rude.

So no, I’m not at all grossed out to see people remarking on how weird it is that now, they’re damp. I see it as reassurance that I have been right all along. The only weird thing is sometimes having someone apologize to me. They say now they understand why I always have that tube of hand sanitizer on me, and also that backup tube so I can sanitize the first tube of sanitizer.

Do I take joy in the world finally waking up to cleaning their hands off in the way I have? Well, no, because of all the death and disruption and stuff. I’m not a monster. I’m not like most people. I want the world to acknowledge me as right all along, yes. But I want the world to do that after waking from an unsettled night of dreams. These dreams should involve visits from the ghosts of liquid soap past, present, and yet to come. Not after any great turmoil.

I don’t have the self-esteem to want the world to go to any great fuss for me. It’s hard enough on my comfortable sense of my own triviality to learn the people at the sandwich shop know I want the cheese hoagie. This has been a week of ever more headlines and news alerts and interruptions to The Price is Right. That’s way too much focus on me for me to like. I would complain about this more, except, to who? And if whoever I did complain to listened to my complaints and stopped all this great fuss about proving me right? I would feel worse about getting that attention on top of everything else.

One thing I know people are discovering is that if they have long sleeves, then their sleeves get wet. Believe me, I’ve been there. The obvious answer is short sleeves. This doesn’t work for me as an answer because I am cold. Since I moved out of Singapore I’ve been cold. The only exceptions have come in special circumstances, usually when part or all of me was on fire. And even then I only got up to lukewarm. Part of the joy of handwashing is if I can put my hands into boiling water then my fingers are a little less frozen. I have to wear a long sleeved something, and that’s that.

So let me offer what I’ve learned about the wet-sleeves problem. If you wash your hands up to your wrists, you get water all over your sleeves. Ah, but, if you roll your sleeves up a few inches? Then they still get all wet. If you roll your sleeves up past your elbows, wash your hands, and then dry them? Now we get some great results: it turns out you haven’t dried your wrists enough and your sleeve gets wet. So now you need to think outside the box. If you take off your shirt or hoodie or whatever garment has long sleeves, and wash and then dry your wrists thoroughly?

By “thoroughly” I mean first towel them off. Then dry your hands up above where you washed on the wrists in the hot air dryer, if there is one. Or hold your hands up, palms facing you, and walk briskly back and forth for thirty seconds if there is no dryer. Then towel off again, and then put your shirt back on?

Then, your sleeves still get wet. And the whole length, too, since it turns wrists are made of hypersponges. I’m sorry. But you would know this if you had been washing your hands all along like I did, when I was right.

In Which I Am Very Petty About This Covid-19 Business


I am beyond happy at getting e-mails from every company I’ve ever heard of with explanations for how they clean everything now. Thanks, Best Buy, I’m glad to know that your response to the Covid-19 virus is that now you’re going to clean the store on a regular basis. United Airlines? You’re going to have the air on airplanes actually purified now? That’s fantastic. It’s really interacting well with my hand-washing germ-phobia thing.

Understand: I know that my hand-washing thing is my dumb thing. That it’s wholly irrational. And even that I don’t have a for-real germ phobia either. I know this because I will just forget about it if I’m having a good enough time. I’ll let my hands go, oh, hour without hand-washing. And not even feel anxious about it. My track record on, like, food is even worse, even ignoring the Steve “Pre” Prefontaine waffle incident. Do I hesitate to grab popcorn that’s been spilled on the shelves from the free-sample bins at the farmer’s market? Yes. I hesitate until I’m sure nobody’s watching. A germ phobia is one thing, but me passing up four pieces of cinnamon-sugar-coated popcorn? Never.

I rationalize my hand-washing thing. It’s good practice to wash your hands before handling food. Or after handling food. Or handling pets. Or handing pets food. Or after handling doorknobs. Or after feeding doorknobs to pets. That one indicates I’m extremely confused, probably from lack of sleep. Best to wash my hands and get to bed. Wash after handling garbage. Or walking too slowly past the garbage. Oh, and of course wash my hands after going to the bathroom. For a good long while. Oftentimes my love will realize that I haven’t been seen in over four hours. This is when I’m trapped where I can’t open the door to get out of the bathroom without touching the doorknob, which requires me to go back into the bathroom to wash my hands.

Still, as silly as my hand-washing thing may be you can’t argue with the results: I get sixteen colds a year. And they hurry on out of here in five or six weeks each. I get so many colds that I have to have two or more colds at once just so there’s time. Last Christmas, at my love’s parents, I had four colds stacked one atop the other, all huddled under a trenchcoat and trying to get into Rise of the Skywalkers. My love’s parents, who are in their 70s, were very happy to see me sniffling and coughing. But then I’ve had a cough since that episode of NewsRadio about the crazy rich boss’s autobiography.

Incidentally yes I know faucet handles have their issues. But those faucets that work by some kind of sensor? No. In principle I should like having more things I don’t have to touch. What doesn’t work for me is that they don’t work for me. You know the thing where you put your hands in front of the sensor and water comes on? When I put my hands in front of the sensor water does not come on. I can hold my hands still and no water comes. I can wave my hands and no water comes. I can move my hands around there and no water comes. The only hope I have is if I punch the faucet, and then water comes, until I put my hands under the faucet.

Here’s a real thing that really happened for me for real, in reality, at the farmer’s market yesterday. In the bathroom there was a faucet that was constantly running. So, great! I did the sorts of thing you expect someone to do in a bathroom, and went to wash under the eternal never-stopping fountain of unending water. When I put my hands in the water stream, it stopped. Don’t believe me? Ask the guy at the other sink who looked at this absurd scene and shrugged. He used the hand dryer, because he has the kinds of hands that bathroom hand dryers can dry, unlike mine.

Anyway if you need me I’ll be in the kitchen, boiling the four-USB-outlet power brick that Best Buy still wants me to review.

Another One For My Ham Radio Fans


One more cold update. I’ve taken to punching antihistamine tablets out of the foil wrap so that the empty and full dots spell out a message in Baudot code. Also, punching them out of the foil irregularly would be incredibly, impossibly offensive to the orderly mind of the eight-year-old me, and that kid needs to relax and just let things be irregular some. Also, I’ve swallowed some of the foil backing along with the antihistamines. This is probably the eight-year-old me getting revenge for this irregular-tablet-punching business.

So How Are My Many Compulsions Looking These Days?


I’m happy to say I’m handling my tendency toward compulsive behavior well. Why, I realized this week that I don’t even have a designated spot to put my chapstick down, so it could be on any of three sides of my wallet when I set my pocket contents down on the table. Obviously one side is unavailable lest it roll off the table. But, like, here I am, not even caring whether I’d be able to find it in the dark just by its relative orientation compared to my wallet! That’s exactly the sort of thinking that people do!

Where I Am And Where I Am Not, Today


Where I am: I successfully managed to start my car with fewer than three trips back to the door to confirm that I had locked it, the way I have always locked it when going out to my car.

Where I am not: I left my iPod in the house so I had to go back for it, spoiling my good work in the door-locking trades.

Good News on the Immortality Front


So when I was a kid I picked up a little habit, sweeping my tongue across the backs of my front teeth. Just a little swipe, left to right. But that bothered my sense of balance that I swept from left to right, and so I added to that a sweep from right to left.

Thing is, it bothered me that I would sweep my tongue from left to right and then right to left. I wasn’t doing a balancing sweep from right to left and then left to right. So it was easy enough to make this a two-stage sweep: left-to-right-to-left, and then a right-to-left-to-right sweep. And that would be balanced at last, right?

At least until I thought seriously about that and reflected how I needed a two-stage sweep that started on the left to be balanced by a two-stage sweep that started on the right. So again, that was easy enough to add. A left-to-right-to-left, and then a right-to-left-to-right, followed by a right-to-left-to-right and then a left-to-right-to-left sweep. It’s a four-stage sweep and that’s great except that, of course, it starts on the left and it needs a counterbalancing one from the right.

Where I’m getting with this is I’m hoping this week to finish off a 536,870,912-stage sweep from the right counterbalancing one that started from the left back sometime in 1996, and I’m looking forward to living long enough that I can make it to the end of the forthcoming 1,073,741,824-stage sweep starting, of course, on the left, which I should reach sometime in 2059 or early 2060. So I’ve got that to stick around for.

Not A Put On


I understand the metaphorical value in talking about someone putting their pants on one leg at a time. I’m just not into that myself. I know how people work. If you put on pants one leg at a time they’re most often going to prefer one leg or the other. And that means there’s going to be one leg that gets pants put on first way more than the other leg does. The imbalance! No. No, can not have that and that’s why I say pants should be put on by sitting on some convenient surface and drawing them both up together at the same time. It’s the only rational way.

Thank you. This has been a message meant to surprise absolutely nobody who has ever met me, ever.

Still not reading about the history of socks.

In Plans That Can’t Possibly Go Wrong


I have what many people would consider a compulsive personality. For example, while I know that to me this isn’t the reasoning that motivates a particular kind of behavior, people observing me might conclude I was washing my hands because I figured I had gotten them dirty in the process of washing them the first time. No. My actual reasons are much more complicated than that but that is pretty much why.

Anyway, I think I’ve figured a way to get this to work for me. All I have to do is set myself the habit of doing one thing that deliberately breaks one of my compulsions each day. And that’s going splendidly. In fact, I was doing this barely a week when I felt like I should do something to deliberately break two or three compulsions each day. Once I get myself going like this, it’s hard to stop. So I figure there’s an at least forty percent chance that I’ll collapse into a black hole by Flag Day. More on this as it comes to pass.