Picture four or five girls in their late teen years sitting around playing a board game and eating potato chips. There was a lot of giggling going on. We were having a good time, but it seems there is never a wrong time for a bit of OCD embarrassment.
My fear of germs was already well developed by my late teens. I would rather not eat than touch food with unwashed hands, but I tried to limit the number of washings because they were so stressful and my hands were extremely dry and cracked. One compromise was to eat something such as a potato chip as close to my fingertips as possible and then discard the bit that I had touched. That was the method I was using that day with my friends, and as we sat there I began to accumulate a small stack of chip bits on a napkin. Sooner or later it was inevitable that the stack would draw attention, and finally someone asked me about the uneaten bits. I explained that I hadn’t washed my hands and did not want to eat the parts that I touched. That seemed reasonable to me; I knew plenty of non-germophobes that washed before eating. Nevertheless, the jesting came. One of them asked me if I were stranded on a desert island and had to eat bugs to survive, whether I would hold the bugs by the legs and then throw the legs away. Laughter ensued at my expense, but looking back, it was truly funny. At the same time I could see both the absurdity of the situation and the logic, and logic prevails every time.
This week I was reminded of another peculiar instance and was glad that I was not observed this time. I was eating popcorn at work when my spoon (have I mentioned that I eat it with a plastic spoon?) hit the outside of the bag, so I threw it in the garbage. I was almost done with the popcorn, so I didn’t want to get out another spoon. For a fleeting moment I considered pouring the popcorn on a napkin and bobbing for it. I had done it before when I didn’t have a utensil. When my nieces and nephews were little, I tried to convince them that it was fun. There was even a time when I dared to do it in front of a friend (long after the potato chip episode). It didn’t catch on. I used to eat popcorn with my dead cat Zed (he wasn’t dead at the time). I would toss a few pieces on the floor and he would bob his little head down to eat it. I suppose that’s not an argument in favor of my sanity.
Suffice it to say, my bobbing days are over. I don’t need the ridicule; I get enough of that just for using a spoon for popcorn. I try to act like an adult when I’m at work, and for good practice, at home also – most of the time.