Sunday, January 07, 2007

Washing my hands of the whole thing

A buddy of mine recently told me a cautionary tale that I feel compelled, in the public interest, to pass along. You probably haven’t heard this story yet because, unlike most cautionary tales, this one doesn’t involve Taco Bell, spinach or Mel Gibson.

At a recent rock concert, the band stopped playing mid-song as a spotlight suddenly beamed down onto a poor young soul coming out of the men’s restroom.

The lead singer pointed at him and asked, “What color is the soap in the men’s bathroom?”

Frozen like an unhygienic deer in a single giant headlight, the kid couldn’t come up with an answer, revealing to the entire concert-going crowd that his grooming habits left a wee bit to be desired. The merriment enjoyed by the audience at this kid’s expense will likely live on through years of intensive therapy.

So now you have a great question to ask, say, your father-in-law the next time he comes back from the restroom. And if anyone ever nails you with that question, you should probably guess pink, unless you actually know the answer, which of course you wouldn’t unless there was another person in the bathroom for whom you were showing off.

More people would know the correct answer if public bathrooms were entirely foot-operated. Unless you happen to be in a restroom on the turnpike with magical, sometimes-functional sensing devices, you are still faced with the issue of touching the sink again to turn the water off after you wash your hands. We can stage putting a man on the moon, but we can’t invent a foot-operated sink? People have already proven themselves ready for such a technology. We’ve mastered flushing and even putting the seat up and down using a technique similar to the one employed by the Karate Kid to knock out the blond dude from Cobra Kai.

I guess I’ve been thinking about hand washing more than usual lately, as I just spent the holidays hanging out with family. To say that our families are a bunch of sick individuals was even truer than usual this time. Disease was the gift that kept on giving this Christmas. Giving phlegm, I mean. Just as I was considering renting scuba equipment so that I wouldn’t have to keep sharing air with those people, my immune system finally surrendered. As I walked into the kitchen and sneezed, there was a moment straight out of a zombie movie.

“Oh, no. He’s been infected, too. Get away! Get away!”

Colds weren’t even the worst thing going around. The snifflers were the lucky ones. Both my dad and mother-in-law came down with what we suspect to be a norovirus, a particularly nasty little gastrointestinal bug named after the location of one of its first known outbreaks: Norwalk, Ohio (Welcome to Norwalk! Keep a clean trash can by the john.) It’s never a good thing to have a malady like that named after your town. Just ask the residents of Old Lyme, Connecticut or Diarrhea, Nebraska.

My mom was about the only one who never came down with anything. She attributed her good fortune to a vitamin supplement called Airborne, which looks exactly like what would happen if scientists successfully got algae and an Alka Seltzer pill to fall in love. Airborne claims to help keep you from getting sick if you just drink a cup of green nasty froth every day.

As I watched Mom down a glass, I cringed and said, “I’d rather just be sick.” I got my wish. But my wife Kara also took Airborne every day, and she was one of the first among us to get zombified. So I still don’t know whether the stuff works or not. But I suspect it’s at least as effective as Dumbo’s magic feather.

You can try to catch Mike Todd with chopsticks online at


  1. I hope you're all feeling better. That norovirus is some serious nasty stuff. Hannah and I both had a touch of something for a few days over christmas vacation. My God, I didn't know if my washing machine would keep up with the puked on & pooped on clothes. Nasty. OMG - did I just tell the internet that? wtf.

    You're right.... the snifflers were the lucky ones. I'd rather have walking pneumonia.

  2. I hate it when you have both, when you sneeze and crap your pants cuz you have diahrea so bad. hehehehe

    My son got major sick with sinus junk the day after Christmas, at least it waited till then. He had to go to the doctor and get lots of medicine, then he decided to share with my husband. Who was sick all last week. I'm hoping they don't share with me. My great big acrobatic act that left me laid up all vacation should be enough.

    I'm hoping since I got the flu shot, maybe I won't get it. heheheh

    May you have a goo free day.

  3. Sheri -- Dang, dude. What was up with the diseases this Christmas? May your '07 pass without anyone in your family crapping themselves.

    Burf -- Seriously, the whole world had something. Maybe your Karma kept you from getting sick, since you've recently been eaten by a car.

  4. I just got caught up the other day on your last few posts, Mike. I would like to say this about them:

    1. heehee, funny
    2. I will fondly remember 2006 as the year I realized that Owen Wilson's nose resembles a penis.
    3. I had the virus thing, and I didn't crap myself.. my husband had it, and not only did he crap HIMSELF, he crapped the bed, the floor and the toilet seat. I think he did it on purpose, just to piss me off. Imagine his surprise when I handed him a rag and a bucket of water and said, "Please leave no poo where it may touch me."


  5. we have foot operated sinks in the hospital, yeah......why don't they have them in public washrooms. and for that matter, why not use a button like for wheelchair users to open the doors of the washroom too......that way a quick hip check and I am out the door not having to use a paper towel that I promptly drop on the floor after the door is open

  6. Funny.

    Looking forward to another year.

    Color of the soap? I don't think I've been to a venue around here that even had any. Ha.

    I worry more about the 2 inches of pee on the floor.

  7. I too had the norovirus... it was NO FUN and lasted way too long! I get to thank my brother and nieces for THAT... they had it Christmas Day... I had it New Years weekend. Happy F-ing New Year!

  8. melodyann -- Good to see you, Dude! Best of luck keeping your family housebroken.

    Iris -- You mean we already have the technology? You must let the world know about this.

    Buster -- Rock and roll, man. And that's why you should always bring a pogo stick to a concert. People were going in mop buckets and on the walls at the Tom Petty concert. The lines were too long, and the waiting is the hardest part.

    Lauren -- Sorry you were popping barf corks for New Year's! Hope you're feeling good enough to sing again.

  9. Mike,

    I hear a faint sound of sarcasm in your comment to me!! *LOL* Man after my own heart. Just saying....

  10. Mike-

    Recently found your blog and absolutely love your writing.

    As for the Noro, by the time it gripped my 3rd child I was literally spinning in circles, spraying bleach into the air and screeching, "I can't beat this thing."

    I think I just shot your demographic profile in the foot. Sorry. :)

  11. Iris -- I originally had "WE must let the world know about this," but then I changed it to "your" because I didn't want to steal the foot-operated sink discovery. No sarcasm intended; I'm just a doofus. Took me a while to comment back here 'cause I've been driving to the hospital to wash my hands every time I pee at Arby's.

    Janelle -- Thanks so much! Glad you dropped by. Dang, three kids with that bug. I bet you've seen things that would make a surgeon queasy.