Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Four Stages of Germaphobia - What is Your Color?

Children's author and illustrator Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows joins us today. I know some people in all of these categories. (grin) Having a child and growing up in country has made me a Level 3 kind of person, although snot from my own child doesn't really phase me. I had some neighbors in college who were definitely Level 4. (grin)

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When it comes to germs and icky stuff in general, we seem to possess varying levels of tolerance before reaching total gross-out overload. Some of us wish we could float around in individual protective bubbles, while others will eat dirt on the off chance that it might be that missing piece of chocolate from two nights ago. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I wish I could put my kids in a bubble before leaving the house. As for the sampling dirt, I won't comment - except to say that pms chocolate cravings make you do sick twisted things. After some intense study and personal experience (I have a preschooler), I have divided germaphobia into four color-coded levels.

Level 1: Sparkling, crisp and clean white (almost transparent)...

Well, this is pretty self explanatory. We will call this guy "Mr. Clean". He wishes his pockets were big enough to hold a box of latex gloves. After a day of fist bumping coworkers to avoid direct contact and multiple hand washes, Mr. Clean drives home clutching his steering wheel coated with sanitizer. He scurries to the door avoiding any possible "gifts" on the walkway from the neighbor's poodle. Right in his foyer, he strips down to his skivvies wincing over the thought of Bob, his co-worker and "personal space invader" sneezing all over his uniform.

While I don't know anyone this extreme, I do have friends who take their work clothes off before entering the house to avoid contamination. Do you seal your TV remote or telephone with zip lock bags? You could be a level white/ transparent.

Level 2: Pure blue... No blending colors on this level

I think this is the level most first time parents are at. For this level we will use "Shirley" the proud new mommy. Hugs and hand shakes are welcome because Shirley keeps a compact bottle of hand sanitizer and wipes in her purse. She vacuums and wipes the counters at least three times a day. As for Fluffy the pet kitty; sorry, animals are no longer allowed on the living room rug, or couch... and definitely NOT the baby's room. Rose, the dear friend with a chronic runny nose is still waiting for that invite to afternoon tea. Rose, don't hold your breath.

We used to have a pet chicken. My son was born during the bird flu scare of 2006. You can probably guess what happened to Lucy (yes, we named the chicken Lucy). She went to a home where she would be loved by someone less paranoid.

Level 3: Rouge (everything is fine and rosie... until snot is present)

This level suits the average level-headed individual. The name "Jane" sounds pretty practical. Jane pushes elevator buttons (even the ones at the mall) and opens doors with out a second thought. She will fearlessly grip a shopping cart when the store is out complimentary antibacterial wipes. The "ten second rule" is stretched to about thirty seconds. Then the snot arrives. Jane pulls out an arsenal of Lysol wipes and spray. The house is quarantined and no one is allowed in or out. For a couple days Jane rethinks her philosophy; but the virus passes and the leniency resumes.

Having a preschooler has put me here. I've seen enough mucus to last me a lifetime; which forced me to loosen up. When my son tells me he would rather put his lips on the water fountain by the play ground at recess than his sealed, germ free juice box all can do is shake my head.

Level 4: Green... or brown if you want to go there (read with caution)

I don't even want to give this one a name, so I will call him "Level 4 guy". This is the bachelor who takes living alone too far. Toilet paper? What for? He has one set of sheets; which might have been white a few years back. He does his furniture shopping at a little place known as the neighborhood dumpster. Level 4 guy does not own a washer/dryer; so he visits the laundry mat down the street... once a year when his mom comes to visit. Level 4 guy's dog is not only a loyal companion; he also does a thorough job of licking the dishes clean. Who needs dish soap, right? Should I go on?

In my youth, I chewed A.B.C (already been chewed) gum off the street because I could never refuse a double dare. You would be amazed at how long "Bubble-Yum" holds its flavor.

Now that I have hit the gross-out button, if anyone is still reading this, I'm curious... what is your color?

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Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave her a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat.

Over the years Elizabeth learned that the insecurities she carried around were a waste of time. She still prefers a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.


Alexander Drake is a curious young man. He lives in a drab, oversized mansion with his secretive father and spends his days playing alone. Where is his mother? And why is his father so tight-lipped about the past?

But secrets have a way of getting out. And a stay at his grandmother's cottage provides strange clues to his father's past. A past Alexander is determined to find out about.

With a mysterious key and several maps in his pack, he sets off on an innocent search for answers about his family.

The discovery of a secret passageway opens the door to dangers, and wonders, unimaginable. And each answer leads to more questions and the journey of his life.

Join Alexander for a thrilling adventure in Azra's Pith, a place of beauty and magic... but beware--something evil lurks in the shadows.

Available at Wild Child


Anthology Authors said...

Yup. I'm definitely a level three, Elizabeth. And the more I think about it, there should be a level 5 because those neighbors were beyond level 4. (g) Dishes left in the sink for two weeks crawling with maggots. No, I'm not kidding. I never walked in their apartment without shoes, and I'm a barefoot kind of gal. Nice guys, but pigs.

Anonymous said...

Oh yuck! Maggots are way beyond my tolerance threshold... I think that would change my barefoot philosophy... for a while anyways. Definitely a level 5! : )

Anthology Authors said...

One of them asked me how much it would cost them to hire me to clean their apartment. I told him that they couldn't pay me enough. (g) I'd've needed a HAZMAT suit for that.

Elizabeth said...

HAHAHAHA! That is funny. Maggots would probably make me want to burn the place down. There is not enough cleaner to cure the heebie-jeebies for that ; )

Elizabeth said...

Another thing that really gets me... when somebody sneezes in the car with the windows rolled up - makes me want to climb the walls!

Jaime Samms said...

I have to say, I'm something of a plum purple, I think. Not quite care-fee enough to be rouge, but not so uptight I would fall into the blue category, either. Purple is a nice colour, I think :)

Big Momma said...

I am a level 3, although I totally did a level 4 dare once. I drank a gutterball -- when everyone pours the dregs from the bottoms of their beer bottles together and you drink it. Even though someone had tapped some cigarette ashes into one of the bottles, it wasn't *that* bad (the ashes kind of enhanced the flavour).

Big Momma said...

P.S. Anthology Authors, your level 5 neighbours remind me of an ex-boyfriend of mine. He threw his dirty dishes out and started eating off of styrofoam plates. (That's about when I decided it was time to move on.)

-- Chloe

Anthology Authors said...

HAHAHAHAHA, Chloe! They did finally clean the sink and set up a schedule to keep it clean, but I still didn't trust their floors. Honestly, while I was in an apartment, it was university living.

BTW, I think there should be a level 5 and then a level 6. Level 6 would be the hoarders. Have you seen some of those places? Their kitchens look like toxic dumps. It's frightening!


julie said...

Too funny, Elizabeth. You know where I grew up; after that, I can tolerate quite a bit. But not level 4. That's even beyond me.

Elizabeth said...

I love the term "gutterball" I will always think of that during beer drinking (football) season! Can I steel it? Julie, you and I handled germs and grossness with grace! Do you remember swimming in the lake? I know I used to drink that murky water. : )

julie said...

Yep, it was impossible not to. And speaking of maggots, remember the sinking log? All covered in slimy moss, and we used to slide down it and use it as a diving board. I don't know if I could do that now, the grossness factor would just be too strong. Had to be good for our immune systems, though :)

Elizabeth said...

What is everyone's take on "double dippers"? You know, the friend you take to lunch at your favorite mexican restaurant. He/she takes a bite of a chip then dips it back in to the salsa...Some people don't seem to mind.
Julie, I still remember how that log feels. Justin was smart - we could never coax him out there : ) I must say, when I look at pictures of us, we actually look dirtier than the lake!

julie said...

Yeah, Justin was probably smarter than we thought.

Re. chips, I'm mostly with this guy: it's like putting your whole mouth right in the bowl!

Terri Talley Venters said...

I use to be a 3, but now I consider myself a 2.5 (since j had kids) More entertaining, is my brother who warped from a 4+ to a 1! He keeps Lysol by the door for guest shoes. Even though they come off. He once gave my parents his nice kithen cooking utensils. We jest that they fe on his clean floor. =) my sister in law says when he goes out of town, she can relax, even with a dirty dish in the sink. Noone else in the family is like this, thank goodness.