First of all, the dress code at our house, as I am sure it has at yours, been relaxed. My husband, now dubbed FLANNEL MAN, gets dressed later and later each day. The above is an actual representation of his new “look.”

However, this is not about that. This is about men and the coronavirus. Women, most of whom have either raised children, babysat for children, taken care of pets, or just taken care of a household, know about CLEAN. We live clean. We practice clean. Men, on the other hand, have relied on their immune systems and women to keep them in a state of health and vigor their whole lives. I am excluding nurses and doctors from this equation, for logical reasons. Those men know clean.

Flannel man, however, has not been vigilant since the onset of COVID-19. Despite my browbeating, filling his pockets with little bottles of hand sanitizer, and yelling at him to wash his hands, I actually witnessed him touching the elevator button with his bare hands! Something had to be done.

So. We had a pandemic tutorial, that lasted twenty minutes, including many pauses to answer his questions. It went a little like this. For expedience, from now on, Flannel Man will be abbreviated to FM:

ME: I have here a bottle of bleach spray which I have prepared for you to carry with you at all times. It is narrow enough to fit in the cup holder of your car.

FM:  I have to put in in the cup holder? But my cup holder has my sack of parking meter change in it, along with the keys to my workshop, and the instructions that you gave me for using the hand sanitizer spray!

ME: For one thing, I know you are not using the sanitizer sprays, because I gave them to you three weeks ago, and not one of them is empty. Put the change in your glove compartment, because you will not be PARKING anywhere for the foreseeable future. And the bleach spray is for the keys to your workshop, among other things.

FM: I have to spray my keys?

ME: Think of it like this. Every single thing that you touch, I want you to think of as contaminated. Every single thing.

FM: My underpants?

ME: Don’t be a smartass. Your underpants are clean. I am talking about anything outside our apartment. To continue, this is a roll of paper towels. Carry it with you everywhere. Rip off a sheet, spray it well with the bleach solution, and use that to push elevator buttons. Spray door handles, and use the sheet to open the doors.

FM: I have to juggle my car keys, the spray bottle, and a roll of paper towels? I have to rip off a sheet, spray it, and touch things with it?  I won’t be able to carry all that stuff. I will drop something.

ME: *sighing, as I have been successfully doing this for weeks* Ok. How about this idea? Here are three pairs of gloves from the box that I ordered before I realized there would be a shortage in hospitals. I am ashamed I did this. But since we have them, do this. Take the three pairs of gloves. Put on a pair. Go down to your car, touching the buttons and doors as normal. As soon as you leave the building, throw the gloves in the trash receptacle outside the door. Do not touch the outside of the gloves. Insert your finger inside the glove as I am demonstrating, and pull it off your hand. Let it fall in the receptacle. Do the same with the other. Get in your car and drive to your workshop. Then, when you get to the parking lot at the workshop, put on the second pair of gloves, and do the same. Deposit those in the trash can in your workshop. Then when you leave, use the third pair as instructed, throwing those away before you re-enter your car. And don’t forget–DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE AT ANY TIME WHEN OUTSIDE OF THIS APARTMENT.

FM: Looks confused

ME: WAIT. You would need a fourth pair.  You would have to put those on to come back into the apartment building. When you get to our door, don’t knock. Kick the door. I will open it, holding a trash bag, You will then remove the gloves as instructed, and I will leave the trash bag outside for 48 hours before removing it.

FM: *face falls* Back to the bleach spray. Could I just rip off about twenty five sheets of paper towels and stuff them in my pants pockets? That way, I wouldn’t need to carry the roll of towels, just my keys and the bleach spray? And hey, anybody that saw me would think I am a stud? *gestures towards the general area of his crotch* You know, like Arnold Schwarzenegger?

ME: *taking a moment to imagine Schwarzenegger below the waist* I guess. But you must not even consider getting close enough for anyone to see the wad in your pocket, do you understand? No showing off. Social distancing. If you see any other person entering your building, do not go up to them. Do you understand?

FM: Can we do a practice run? I need a practice run.

ME: A practice run will waste materials. We can do a pantomime practice run here in the apartment. Take the spray bottle and here is a paper towel. Just pretend.

FM: *after three failed attempts, in which he touched one door handle without “spraying,” scratched his nose, and dropped the spray bottle on the floor* I may just stay home today.

ME: Good idea.

We are going to try again tomorrow.

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