If, at the end of this pandemic, the world is hit with a biblical drought, which means there won’t be enough water to make beer, there will be only one person to blame.
That would be yours truly. And the reason is simple: I wash my hands approximately 147 times a day.
I also throw potentially contaminated jeans, pants, sweatpants, shirts, sweatshirts, T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks, pajamas, face masks, hand towels, bath towels, dish towels, dishcloths, washcloths, handkerchiefs and anything else made of a washable material in the laundry at a rate that will undoubtedly cause a flood during the rinse cycle and the washing machine to sink like the Titanic.
But doctors, nurses and other medical experts, who do not include politicians, even though some of them think they are, say it’s important to wash your hands. This not only kills germs, but it can dry out your hands so much that you need to keep washing them to get the moisture necessary to dry them out again.
I have washed my hands so often that I am convinced one of two things will happen: (a) they will fall off, in which case I will either starve to death or be known as Stumpy, or (b) my skin will become so leathery that I will be classified as a reptile, which will give my wife an excuse to say, “See you later, alligator,” or it will peel away in sheets and be used to make jackets, boots and whips, in which case I will be known as Kinky.
Still, handwashing is de rigueur mortis, a French phrase meaning “socially required dead skin.”
According to the aforementioned experts, and possibly the music industry, you should sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice while washing your hands. Unless you sing either too fast or too slowly, or can’t remember the lyrics, or even your own name, this will take 20 seconds, which is how long it takes to eradicate the germs.
But according to those very same experts, who just won’t shut up, most people wash their hands incorrectly because they don’t get enough soap between their fingers and under their nails.
Also, when you wash your hands, you are supposed to go all the way up to your elbows. The third or fourth time I did this, because I don’t catch on too quickly, it dawned on me that maybe I should roll up my sleeves.
But why stop at your elbows? Why not your armpits (which could probably use some soap) or your shoulders? Hell, why not strip naked and get in the shower? (Hint: Turn on the water or it won’t work.)
But here’s the real question: What if you wash your hands for only 19 seconds? I guess that means it won’t work, either, and you’ll have to begin all over again.
One good thing to come out of this, aside from the fact that I should get a birthday cake every day, is that I sing so badly that even if I were around people other than my wife, it would ensure six feet (and maybe six miles) of social distancing.
One of the bad things is that if you go out, you have to wear gloves to keep your hands clean, but when you take them off, you have to wash your hands again. And you’re not supposed to touch your face except, I suppose, to wash it, after which you should — that’s right — wash your hands.
So it’s a good idea to listen to the experts, even at the risk of creating a worldwide water shortage.
And after this pandemic is over, I am going to wash my hands of the whole damn thing.
— Jerry Zezima
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of four books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows Best and Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.