We all know that desperate times call for desperate measures. This is true for no one more so than a germophobe. There are times when a physical need pushes a germophobe to the limits. Other times, a need to fit in and look normal will cause us to do something out of character.
Spring is a lovely time that delights the senses and sometimes torments the senses. Any allergy sufferer can relate to that. I’m not sure which is worse – the infernally itchy eyes or the nonstop sneezing. The sneezing can get to the point that it is physically exhausting. The tissue companies make a mint from me alone. It is imperative that I keep an ample supply of tissues with me wherever I go. But once in a while, the supply runs out. When that happens, it almost induces a feeling of panic.
And so it happened one vernal day. I was with a group of three friends, and two of us were separated from the other two. The friend I was with had allergies also, and we were both stuck outside in a cloud of pollen by a locked car, waiting for the other two friends. She was sneezing a little, but she was no match for me. The tissues I had in my purse went fast. I used my last one, and she used her last one. The sneezing continued, and my nose was still running. I asked my friend if she had a tissue I could use. She said she only had a couple of used ones. That’s all I had too, but I knew that there was no way I could get any more use out of them. The runny nose was getting worse, and it was on the verge of dripping. She said that her tissues were lightly used if I really needed them. I didn’t have much time to think. I had to take them or have it all over my face like a little kid. I grabbed them and started dabbing my nose. The tissues were still slightly damp from their previous use, and I was disgusted. But what could I do, other than wipe it on my sleeve? Looking back, that may have been the better option.
On another occasion, I was with a group of people, including a mother with her five-year-old daughter. The little girl was drinking a soda, and she offered to give me a sip. If anything puts up an OCD red flag, it’s backwash from a little kid. But I had heard something recently that made the big, loud “No” hesitate in my vocal cords. I had heard that when a child offers you a gift and you refuse it, they feel rejected. And I thought perhaps the mother would think that I was rude if I insulted her child. So for three seconds I thought of how I was going to hurt this child and offend her mother if I refused the soda, and that surely a little girl couldn’t have that many germs. Then I said okay, and I took a tiny sip and handed the can back to her. Her mother said she couldn’t believe that I did it. I wasn’t aware that the mother knew about my OCD, but I was just as surprised as she was. I would never do that again; I think a child can grow up without being traumatized by a person not drinking a soda.
Desperate measures or not, I might as well face the fact that I’m never going to look normal.