My husband has tried to cure me of my germ-wariness

I used to reeeallly be bothered by germs. I wasn’t quite a germophobe, but there was a certain protocol I followed in public restrooms to never touch a dirty faucet or paper towel dispenser with clean hands, usually followed by sanitizer that I kept in my purse. Overkill. Probably.

My husband has tried to cure me of my germ-wariness, mostly by laughing at my rituals and telling stories from his youth that worry me even now, even as we are far removed from the situation. The one that stands out the most is brought to us by his brother and my husband in tandem, told in the kitchen of my in-laws during one or another holiday. So: apparently my brother-in-law happily rolled down hills of cow manure as a child while visiting his grandparents and never got sick. My husband then added how those same grandparents would tell all the brothers to wash their hands before lunch and Hubby would wonder why. I suggested maybe because the grandparents had seen all the boys laughingly roll down hills of cow manure? My husband shrugged his shoulders, tilted his head and responded, “Yeah, but I never get sick, do I?”

Which he never does. So that is a fine and good argument, but the line between us and germs must be drawn somewhere, yes? Maybe using five paper towels in one trip to the public restroom is excessive, but playing in dung is a problem as well.

The other night I was getting ready for bed when I heard a toothbrush fall to the floor. I waited to hear that toothbrush then get thrown into the trash, but when that sound never came I marched myself into the bathroom and asked Hubby whose toothbrush hit the floor and where that toothbrush was now.

He pointed to Baby Chickadee’s toothbrush, resting in the toothbrush holder.

“Where did the toothbrush fall?” I asked.

When he pointed to the center of a triangle whose corners were the trashcan--toilet--basket that holds the plunger and toilet brush, I thought he must be joking. So I looked at him and dryly said, “Very funny.”

He looked back at me. “I’m not joking.”

And then I shrieked. “You were going to let our daughter brush her teeth with a poo-infested toothbrush?”

There were explanations from him about how the toothbrush had landed on its side, the 1-second rule, (later he would add that he trusts my fastidious cleaning, which no one has ever confused my house with a fastidiously clean one), blah diddy blah. Finally I pulled the skin on my forehead in frustration and just asked him to please, for my sake, never do that again? He agreed, but I still think he thinks he was right. That it was more important for her to brush with a toothbrush infested with poo particles than to not brush her teeth.

And here I proudly stand, firmly behind the line that says it’s not ok to drop your child’s toothbrush on the floor and then let her use it again.


Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.