Her mother’s words of instruction still echo in my head, “Girls, go wash you hands!” That’s the first thing we always heard as the front door closed behind us at Phyllis’ house. Not “Hi, how are you, where have you been, or what have you been doing,” but “Wash your hands!” All these years later, it was obvious she was decades ahead. Signs are now posted everywhere, Wash Your Hands. I always wonder about the ones in restaurant bathrooms: Employees must wash their hands before returning to work. Is that a reminder to the employees or is it supposed to serve as comfort to the patrons?

Lately I’ve begun to realize there really was something to, “Gross, he has cooties!” He really did. We all do. It’s just some of us handle our cooties better than others. And washing hands is the best way.

Germs come in four major forms; bacteria, virus, fungi and protozoa. There are ways to live in harmony with the microscopic critters. I think the best way is to stay out of the pediatrician’s office, or if a trip is necessary, take a large jug of Purell and a can of Lysol. How many times have kids been in for a well child check up and two days later wake up with a fever? It’s even more frightening to think about what lurks in hospitals.

I’ve always thought public restrooms had to be the germiest, but I recently read a corporate office desk is creepier than a toilet. And, even though men are messier, women’s restrooms were found to have more germs. The reason; women spend more time in there and they bring the germ magnet children with them.

I have to block germ knowledge and the 20/20 reports out of my mind when I check into a hotel. That’s all I’ll say about that.

So unless we wear Michael Jackson masks and gloves, we’re exposed to the germ gremlins. As Phyllis’ mom said, “Wash your hands.” However, the nagging question still remains; why are the snotty nosed kids with filthy hands the ones who never get sick?

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