I saw an episode of I Love Lucy not long ago. The Ricardos and the Mertzes had a disagreement that ended up in the courtroom. To get to the bottom of the incident that caused the dispute, they had to reenact it before the judge. That produced much laughter for the audience. It’s not as funny when I do a reenactment, but then I don’t have an audience. If I did, maybe there would be laughter.
I did have to reenact something that happened not long ago. Why do I have to reenact anything at all? There are instances when I’m not sure if contamination has taken place. In some cases, there is no way to reproduce the action or situation, so I have to make a judgment call. In other instances, the action can be repeated quite easily. And that was the case with the strawberries. Yes, I just wanted to eat some strawberries. And this is how it went.
I was doing housework, so I had on my OCD getup. In my case, I don’t mean clothing, but what I use to protect my arms from contamination. My arms were wrapped in cellophane to the elbows, and my hands had two pairs of gloves for protection. It sounds as if I must have been doing some serious, deep-down cleaning (like scrubbing the floor), but I was just washing dishes. If the hands are in water, I have to double up on the gloves to prevent leaks. And the cellophane keeps my arms from being splashed.
While I was fully covered, I thought it would be a good time to wash the strawberries I had in my colander. (I’ve detailed my fruit washing process previously, so I won’t go through that here.) When I was done washing the strawberries, I set them aside and starting thinking about what to do next. Before taking off the gloves, I needed to do a few more chores. Tasks on the list included laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom. But all of those things were going to take a while. And I felt a little hungry. I had some nice clean strawberries to eat, but I didn’t want to take off my gloves and cellophane. It takes time and money to redo the OCD getup, so I try to do as much as I can when I have it on. So, I devised a plan.
A few times in the past, I had used the inside out baggie to grab a bite of food. Why not use that for the strawberries? I didn’t immediately reach for the baggie because I knew that things could go wrong. But if I was careful, why couldn’t I have a few strawberries? I decided to give it a try. I took a baggie, turned it inside out, and used it to get a berry from the colander. I took a bite. Success! Right? It seemed so. I had another. And another. It was going well. On the next berry, I leaned forward to take a bite, but I heard something. What was that sound? I felt uneasy. I leaned forward again. I heard the sound again. I feared that it was the sound of my hair swinging forward and hitting the baggie or glove or cellophane. Could it be?
I tried to watch from the corner of my eye as I repeated the action of leaning forward. I could see my hair move toward the baggie, but I couldn’t tell if it was hitting. I repeated the movement several times. It looked as if it wasn’t hitting, or if it was, it was touching the clean part of the baggie, close to where I was holding the strawberry. I decided everything was fine. I started to go about my business. But it kept nagging me. Was my hair really safe?
It called for more reenacting. I needed a mirror, so I walked into the bathroom. There was no strawberry in my hand, but I had brought in a new baggie for the reenactment. I turned it inside out, and I leaned in as if taking a bite. The hair swung forward, and I could clearly see it touching the baggie just as I heard the sound of my hair brushing it. It had not been my imagination. So I had my answer, correct? Not quite. Now the question was what part of the baggie my hair was touching. When I turned it inside out, the end was contaminated by my glove. There was a fine line separating clean from dirty. I repeated the action a few more times, but I came to the realization that I could reenact this dozens of times and the answer would not be conclusive. It was too much to let it go. I made my judgment: dirty. That meant a long shower that night. Not necessarily a full super-shower, because the contamination was at the ends of the hair. But a long shower still.
Despite the outcome in this situation, there have been times when the reenactment has proved that contamination was impossible. Those are good times! And I learned that’s not a smart way to eat strawberries.