“Now is the winter of our discontent…” No truer words were ever written. Last week my boys were home sick with me. Then came the Snowpocalypse of 2013. Between the brazen assault of the blizzard and the ninja-like stealth attack of cold bearing germs, my children have been home from school with me for nearly two weeks and have pretty much forgotten everything they ever learned.
Their lack of education is not the real problem however, in the wise words of the honorable, Judge Smails from Caddyshack, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” No, the real problem is that somewhere in the midst of Blizzargeddon, my wife caught a cold as well. So when I wasn’t busy digging my house out of massive snow drifts I was trapped in a snow bound house with two sick kids and a sick wife. My kids snorted and sniffled and my wife hacked and hocked a ca-cough-ony of pestilence down upon my poor ears. It was during this orchestra of phlegm that I started to think about all the different ways we pick up germs. I thought about the litany of gross germy things my kids have done and how it’s amazing that all of us don’t get sick more often. I took a nostalgic journey and recalled all the wonderful germ moments I’ve witnessed since the moment my sons came into this world. I called this voyage; a trip down Germ-emory lane.
Germ-emory #1- The Beach
After my son Shane was born the first outside trip we took him on was for a stroll by the water to watch the sunset. I had just pushed his carriage near the edge of the sand when a young boy about three years old with a Carrot-top-like mop of curly red hair approached us and wanted to see the baby. I watched as the little boy peered down at my perfectly clean and germ free baby with awe and amazement. Then, before I could smack it away, his hand, smothered in a bubbling brew of sand, chocolate, flies and mucus stabbed forward and swiped its foul ooze upon my previously beautiful, but now sullied, son. I quickly picked my child and ran for the nearest decontamination tent but for some reason, there were none to be found. I knew then that there was no protecting my child from germs or the disgusting, little red headed, afro-having, brats that carried them.
Germ-emory #2- Men’s Room Mania
Since my boys became potty trained it’s been my fatherly duty to take them into the men’s room whenever nature calls. From the very first time, till today, getting in and out of the men’s room without at least one of them them doing something borderline disgusting has proved to be a Germ-ission impossible. From lying on the floor, to picking up urinal cakes, splashing their hands in toilets or attempting to pull the door open using only their teeth, it seems there is no aspect of Men’s room hygiene that they haven’t disregarded.
Germ-emory #3- Ballpits and Playrooms
For whatever reason, kids love fast food restaurant play rooms. “Please! Please!” My children would beg. “Please can we cavort in the maelstrom of filth that is a public, fast food, play room?” “Sure thing!” I’d say, resigned to the fact that I was willingly dumping my children into the toxic stew of the unwashed masses. After all, what could happen? I brought Purel. The one thing I did draw the line at was the dreaded ball pit. To all caring parents, Ball pits are the Urban legend, boogey man, playroom, no, no. “I heard a kid got stuck with a hypodermic needle in a ball pit” Said a mom. “Kids take off their poopy diapers in ball pits” Another Mom said. I heard that a Grandma went into a ball pit and died and they didn’t find her for a week and all the kids were playing on top of her dead body” Said another. So yeah, no ball pits.
Germ-emory #4- School
When I was a student teacher I went to the High School I would be working at, put my hand on the classroom’s doorknob and the next day woke up with a fistful of warts. Schools are a Petri dish on Plum Island. They are a Biohazard. I wear a hazmat suit to parent teacher meetings. I attended my kid’s talent show like John Travolta in the boy in the plastic bubble. All art projects sent home are handled with gloves, lovingly appreciated for a brief moment and then immediately incinerated.
Germ-emory #5- Dirty Birds
I was fishing with my kids on a boat off of Montauk when a seagull bit my son’s finger as he attempted to feed it a minnow. Those birds are ripe with filth and germs. I’m no doctor but I believe all germ born diseases can be traced to sea gull bites. My wife was alarmed by the possibility of a bird germ infection. I just thought it was funny. It was made clear to me that that was not the proper response. After ruminating on germs I came to believe that no matter what I do, no matter how much I wash my hands, or how often I Clorox my ipad, I will still get sick three to four times a year. My kids are gross and they touch everything I own. Sooner or later I will rub my eye or scratch my nose and become infected with their bug. I’m not going to live my life afraid of germs. I will not be made paranoid by the media’s obsession with new and scary strains of flu. I will not carry Purel everywhere I go. I will embrace rats for being the little Chefs in Pixar’s wonderful movie Ratatouille and not the flea carrying plague bags those historians talk about. And I will play in a ball pit, no matter how many dirty diapers, hypodermic needles or dead grandmothers are buried under there, I will enjoy that pit. Germs be damned, it’s winter, I’ve been trapped inside and I want to play.
Gerry McGuire took his love of history, trivia, comedy, literature, music and film and turned himself into a pop culture quoting, chat machine. He is like Cliff Claven from Cheers if Cliff Claven was stunningly handsome, awesomely funny and unbelievably humble. He fancies himself what the French would describe as a raconteur or what Americans call, a loud mouth. Gerry writes for Milford Living Magazine, sings in the Celtic rock band The Butcher Boys and is a stay at home dad.