Germ Warfare

I guess it’s flu season because none of my friends can come out and play. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of different rejections when I call people to see if they want to hang out with me, ranging from “I’m sorry, but I just realized I have too many friends” to “No, I can’t, sir. Please only use 9-1-1 for an emergency”. But the most common excuse of all, which I’ve been hearing a lot lately, is “I’m sick”. Or, as my buddy DeShawn said to me on the phone the other day: “Oh darn. I’d love to go to the Amish Farming Implements Museum with you, but I’m sick as a dog.”

Where did this phrase “sick as a dog” come from? Are canines generally known for their penchant for illness? I wouldn’t say so. I think mostly of a dog’s loyalty, its good nature, its fecal contribution to impromptu games of hopscotch on sidewalks. You want to talk about animals with frail constitutions, how about goldfish? I never owned one that lasted more than a few months. They were always dying from water too cold or too warm, too much food or too little food, or from me pulling off a few scales to see if they’re really made of gold (turns out they’re not). The phrase should be “sick as a goldfish”, if you ask me.

While on the treadmill at my gym, I probably shouldn’t read the donated magazines because they’re likely crawling with bacteria, but I did see an article in Glamour (while looking for perfume samples to give my wife for Christmas—so much cheaper than a full bottle) that announced “The Five Most Germy Things You’ll Touch in a Day”.

First are unwashed fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, which get handled and squeezed more often than a little boy’s face in a room full of grandmothers.

Second is the restroom soap dispenser, which gets touched after the door, toilet handle and stall latch do. That’s why it’s important to not only wash your hands well with the soap, but to use a paper towel to open the door on the way out. If there are no paper towels, get up on the counter, push aside a ceiling panel, hoist yourself up, and crawl through the dusty, rat-infested air ducts to the other side. This is still more hygienic than opening the restroom door with your bare hand.

Next on the list is elevator buttons. Who knows what invisible critters lurk on these little circles of sickness? I recommend asking someone else on the elevator to push the button for your floor. If you are alone, then wait around for someone to get on with you. If there is not a single other person anywhere in the vicinity and likely won’t be for a very long time, then you are probably at the Amish Farming Implements Museum and it doesn’t have an elevator anyway.

Fourth is ATM keyboards. “They’re germ heaven”, according to the article. My parents will never get sick from an ATM machine because they never go near them. My mother doesn’t trust them, and my father doesn’t do any of the banking. “I don’t know where any of our money is,” he once told me. “If your mother becomes an angel before I do, I’ll be forced to go hat in hand from bank to bank asking, ‘Do I have any money in here?’” At least I was able to warn him, if that happens, not to try making ends meet by melting down goldfish.

Finally, the microwave touch pad in your home or office gets pretty contaminated. My advice: stay away from microwaves altogether. Who knows but that someday we’ll discover that those heating rays were killing us. Microwave ovens are weird and unnatural, like the popular painting of dogs playing poker.

Come to think of it, have you seen that painting? Half the mutts at the table are smoking. That can’t be good for them. Ah, so that’s where the phrase “sick as a dog” comes from.

Cuyler Black