I am reasonably clean. I make efforts to keep my surroundings the same. But according to American advertisers, I am in constant danger of contamination. People in other cultures seem to be much more carefree. There are folks in other countries who wash much less frequently than Americans, and I am sure that they still have friends, good health, a decent quality of life, and nice homes. But here in the USA, we have perfected “clean” to a whole new standard.

For instance, let’s consider our countertops. I think that Swedish people probably wipe theirs down after using them. In Russia, the women wearing babushkas certainly swipe their rudimentary kitchens with lye soap after use. But over here, unless there is not one germ anywhere to be found on one’s granite surfaces, the threat of disease, odor, and pestilence looms. So we have to buy little disposable wipers saturated in disinfectant to use every time we touch anything in the kitchen. 

And good grief! We seem to have a SMELL fetish over here! I grew up in a house that only smelled when dinner was cooking. And then, it smelled like fried chicken or pot roast. American culture now demands that every room in the house must have a little atomizer of some sort, squirting out spritzes of “pumpkin spice” or “spring daffodil” every few seconds. Despite the fact that shooting chemicals into the air is possibly carcinogenic, we Americans don’t care. We prefer perfumed homes to healthy lungs. 

It isn’t enough to have automated perfumers plugged in to every outlet. What about the sofas? Might they be more aromatic also? Apparently! Because now all Americans are encouraged to spray various deodorants on our furniture as well. And what about those carpets? Better to be safe than sorry! Good housewives know to sprinkle powdered deodorant on all carpeting before they vacuum. 

The toilet tank is a cauldron of seething danger. In order to avoid modern plagues, we must attach little tablets into our toilets that will clean bacteria away with every flush. I certainly hope that dog owners don’t use those things. 

Let us not even start on the floors. Why, they are absolutely fraught with danger. Somebody might track in the next big virus, and unless I am all over that floor with hot steam, my family’s life expectancy will be shortened! 

All this vigilance has taken guilt to a whole new level. Young mothers fret about germs and soak their kids’ toys in Clorox water. Everyone carries hand sanitizer. Mothers who don’t “debug” their houses at least twice daily worry about bringing death and destruction into them. 

I gave up a long time ago on this. The five second rule is king around here. I believe in the supremacy of immune systems. Why, just this morning, I noticed a stain on the countertop. I took care of it with a little spit and a paper towel.

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