Confessions Of A Compulsive Hand Washer
It has been said cleanliness is next to godliness. Since a recent column advocated the notion of spring cleaning before it was too late, the topic has not left me totally.
Something on my list, for some time has been a pet peeve with respect to hand washing.
We will get to that shortly but first, when the idea of discussing all of this came about, I was reminded of an old friend who may have been the gold standard of cleanliness of all time.
Wayne's old saying went something like this, "Cleanliness is next to godliness, and I am not very godly but I am most definitely cleanly."
And cleanly he was. This first exhibited itself at the deer lease many years ago. A deer lease is a place where men go to get dirty, talk dirty, act like children and come home dirty. Occasionally game will be taken but it may not be the most important activity. These places are really more akin to social clubs with some having more rigorous requirements of their members than others.
The fewer showers the better. The dirtier the hunting camp and general condition of things the greater the likelihood wild game will practically descend upon the hunters in their sleep. Thus promulgating a litany of lies and half-truths which would last through the dry spell of off-season when game may not be legally harvested.
Wayne could be counted upon to be on time, impeccably dressed and coiffed with guns cleaner than all the other hunters' clothing. Upon arrival to the hunting camp as other members of the hunting party tossed their wares about Wayne's stuff would be laid out almost as if it were being assembled as a shrine of sorts. He would begin sweeping out dirt and cobwebs in the camper and fussing at the other members of the group for their lack of care when wiping their feet.
This modicum of cleanliness might lead you to believe Wayne was too stern for such outings in the great wilderness of the Texas hill country. But it was really the perfect complement to other personalities in the group and kept the conversation lively.
He could cook a steak and baked potato to near perfection and seemed to savor every bite in a way other people did not. He would fuss at my dad, who he thought ate too quickly and ask him sarcastically if he had even tasted the meal he had just consumed for having eaten it so rapidly. They were an unlikely pair of friends and were fun to watch for their differences.
Back to my pet peeve about hand washing. If Wayne was obsessive about general cleanliness it may have rubbed off on me with respect to hand washing. I like for my hands to be clean. Get over it. This idiosyncrasy has led me to experience a great many varieties of soap over the years and brought me to an interesting place of evaluation. Some soap smells good and some does not. A bad-smelling soap can be an asset or a liability. Let me illustrate.
Recently I stopped in a Whataburger to enjoy a meal. When I went into the facilities to wash up the soap in the dispenser smelled so bad it almost ruined the enjoyment of my meal since eating my cheeseburger required the use of my hands. Now I could have been like the quirky old gent on Seinfeld and eaten the darned thing with a knife and fork like he did with his Snickers bar but this is East Texas and that just seems a little snotty to eat a Whataburger in such a way.
Frankly, the scent of soap cannot be a significant cost factor and one would think making it pleasant would create benefits for all parties involved. I thing a good marketing scheme would be to make the soap in a Whataburger smell like a chocolate shake so diners would have that on their minds while they are eating the main courses of their meal. But the soap I encountered recently smelled so awful it made me want to fill out a comment card. In spite of the issue my burger was great and for Mark McDaniel's information it was so worth it.
The Zagat restaurant guide would do well to monitor this situation for diners like me and add the soap scent to their rating system. I think it could be a big hit. Maybe I will start my own list with soap scent next to food, price and service ratings like that Craig guy.
Bad smelling soap should definitely be in places such as hospitals. People are always complaining about hospital food already and only the patients should be eating there anyway. The setup is perfect. A stern nurse gives you a few squirts of some foul-smelling ooze to disinfect your germs so a patient will not get them. Your hands smell awful but somehow the feeling of being extra-clean is amplified by the fact the setting is appropriate.
Wouldn't logic dictate if you went straight from the hospital to a local restaurant the first thing you would want to do upon arrival is wash the hospital germs from your hands with a fragrant-smelling soap before you enjoy a meal?
There could even be options for people who are dieting. One dispenser could have the bad-smelling stuff labeled for people who want to limit their intake. Another could complement a different objective entirely. Can't you just imagine Sopapilla-scented soap in a Mexican restaurant? And there is no such thing as odorless anything. Everything smells like something.
Somebody ought to come up with a line of soaps for businesses so that each experience builds on the next.
If all this makes me obsessive, count me in.
With fries on the side.
Your summer book recommendations
I am looking forward to the list of book recommendations by area readers. From a list of books read during the past year four or five have left lasting impressions.
One book that I would certainly recommend to anyone who has yet to add it to his or her list is "The Time It Never Rained" by Elmer Kelton.
If Texas has anything to offer the rest of our nation today it does not lie in oil and gas reserves, cotton, or cattle. What it has to offer is a remnant of a dying spirit of self-determination and tenacity that has always been evident during the most trying times. That attitude was born out of this state's own history, but is sadly seen eroding over the past several decades.
However, it is alive and well in Kelton's main character, and one can only hope that any reader of the book would aspire to be more like that character, who many West Texas readers have sworn the author patterned after their father or grandfather.
From a former, but (never ex) librarian here are some books I have really enjoyed.
1. "Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by James Ford
2. "The Light Keeper's Son" by Homer Hickham
3. "The Kitchen Boy" by Robert Alexander
4. "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman
5. "Molokai" by Alan Brennert
Lots of great summertime (or anytime reading). Thanks for helping to keep the love of books and reading alive!
Mary Kay Norris
As I age, I find I like reading about others who are aging, like Faith Bass Darling, in Lynda Rutledge's debut novel, set in East Texas:
"Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale" -- - by Lynda Rutledge
I recommend two books:
"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. This author, a Holocaust survivor, teaches that we choose our attitudes and responses, regardless of circumstances.
"Still the Best Hope" by Dennis Prager. Prager defends American values in a logical argument with historical examples.
I trust I am not too late to add a couple of suggestions to your summer reading list.I would recommend two books for casual summer reading under an umbrella with an iced beverage:
1. "Spies of the Balkans" by Alan Furst. This is the most recent of a series of books by Mr. Furst dealing with pre-WWII Europe - primarily Eastern European countries for somewhat of a different slant on that period - and the coming German threat as it manifests itself in the lives of the people of these countries and their response. After one reads this book, one will want to go back and read the series from the beginning.
2. "Tell No One" by Harlan Coben. This is an exceptional book by Mr. Coben. Mr. Coben writes a series of books involving a character by the name of Myron Bolitar which can be entertaining in and of themselves.
However, "Tell No One" is a departure from the series and is a terrific murder mystery which, literally, keeps the reader intrigued through the very end. For those who don't frequent the pages of mysteries, "Tell No One" is the type of book that Alfred Hitchcock would have grabbed onto for one of his productions.
Glen Van Dyke