Lynn Ruth Miller

We only seek purity to contaminate it with ourselves.
Autum Worcester

I take a shower every morning and wash my hair. I use a deodorant, rinse my mouth with Listerine after I brush my teeth and then scrub the sink with cleanser. I wipe down the shower with a good tile cleaner, shine the faucet and shower head. I use the toilet brush to clean the bowl each time I use it and add disinfectant to the water. I put on fresh underwear, clean my nails and disinfect the mat before I do my sit–ups. Before I start breakfast, I wipe down the counter with dish soap and a drop of ammonia. I clean the table with vinegar and polish the silver, set the table with a washed place mat and a fresh serviette. I wipe out the glass before I pour my orange juice and make sure my cup and plate have no spots before I slice my muffin with the knife I just sterilized. Before I butter the muffin, I wipe my hands with a disinfectant and wave them in the air to dry so the odor doesn’t spoil my appetite.

Whenever I cook, I pay close attention to the germs that might invade my meal and kill me. If I make a salad I wash each lettuce leaf carefully in a special edible soap, scour the carrots and potatoes with a special brush, wash the peppers and tomatoes and wipe the cutting board with a solution approved by the American Medical Association. The water I drink has been filtered and treated for impurities.

When I am outside, I never pick up anything from the ground. I wear a mask just in case dust blows in my face. When I walk the dogs, I always pick up their droppings in a plastic bag guaranteed to be safe for me to carry in the pocket of my dry cleaned coat.

Before I enter a public restroom, I look up to heaven for protection, open the door with rubber gloved hands and flush the toilet with the tip of my gloved finger, careful not to inhale the plethora of bacteria that pollute the air. I scrub my hands with my own extra strength disinfectant that I carry with me at all times. What with all the filth flying around these days, you never can be too careful.

The American culture never lets us forget that dirt is a sin. Our commercials insist it is imperative that we clean everything we touch. They show us graphic pictures of what happens if we neglect our bodies. Our breath stinks, our armpits are nests of pungent odor, our teeth are fetid bacterial gardens and there is a virus lurking in every dust bunny on our floor. We are warned to be vigilant lest some voracious bug infect our food, our cells or the air we breathe. We are told our mattresses are filled with vermin, our shrubbery is a death trap and the dirt under our finger nails carry every fatal disease known to man, not to mention a few new ones that crop up to confound us.

That is the American Way…Or should I say, it was the American Way until now. Jeff Leach in the New York Times says, “Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us.”

Does he mean that that all that cleanliness is making us sick? Is he saying I can just pull a carrot from my garden, grab a head of lettuce and a tomato and eat it? This is a beautiful revelation. My mother said everyone should eat a bushel of dirt before they die. It appears that she was absolutely right…but I have to say, I would prefer mine barbecued in a good sauce with a bit of unprocessed hormone-free meat and a little home brew.

There's something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring
Cup with soap and water after she's only measured water in it.
Erma Bombeck

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