Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Never Take the Gloves Off

For as long as I can remember, I have been squeamish when it comes to anything oooey, gooey, slippery, mushy, smelly or slimy touching my hands. Throughout my daughter's entire infancy, I never once (ok - maybe once) got poop on my hands. I was always over-the-top careful when opening the diaper to be prepared, large wet-wipe in hand, making sure no part of my fingers or hand were left uncovered before I would swipe away at the mess. Once that was accomplished and her tiny butt was all clean and sweet-smelling again, I would apply any necessary creams or ointments with a Q-Tip, again, never having to touch any questionable surfaces with my bare fingers. When gardening, I always wear gloves. You never know when a big slimy earthworm may appear and try to wriggle out of your grasp, or a colony of potato bugs will threaten your chi when a rock is overturned. And don't get me started on grubs - they come in second right after maggots on a raccoon carcass. I figure as long as I have gloves on, I'm not really affected by any of mother nature's grosser creations. It may have started in my childhood. My father - actually, when I think about it, the whole family would trek on down to the Welland Canal to go smelt fishing. The moms would just run around in a state of panic the whole time trying to keep the kids from falling in the murky brown water. These expert fishermen (mostly blue-collar workers from the neighbourhood) would dip their nets down the steep concrete wall of the canal and haul up hundreds of wriggling, slippery silver smelt, dump them into buckets and once they had filled all their containers, take them home, clean them and eat them. The cleaning part is where this story takes a bad turn for me. Back in the day when kids were still expected to participate in chores around the house, my brother and I were expected to help clean the fish. "If we were gonna eat them, we were damn well gonna help clean em." I was forced to do this - WITHOUT GLOVES! First the little head had to be cut off, it's glazed over eyes staring at me, begging for mercy. Then the slit from the tail up the belly, followed by running my small 9 year old thumb up the cavity to clear the guts. Rinse and repeat. The females full of eggs were the hardest for me to deal with, my gag reflex in high gear, my guilt over her lost babies and the massive amount of yellow globular goo enough to make my head spin. But I did it. Once my mother battered and deep fried those little silvery critters, I would forget all about the ordeal getting them to the table and chow-down with the rest of the family. However, I think the trauma remained, buried deep inside me - forever. That's why when I complained to my husband on the weekend that I thought we needed a new dishwasher because it was always leaving little bits of crumb-like debris on the dishes, he said, "Have you cleaned out the filter?" Filter? What's he talking about?, I wondered. "Is it this rectangular-shaped thing on the top of the inside of the door?", I asked. Not realizing I had been neglectful of regular dishwasher maintenance and not able to remove the cover, I asked him for help. That's what men are for - manly chores such as this. He sauntered over, leaving his fresh steaming Starbucks reluctantly and popped off the cover for me. "I think this may be your (note he said "my") problem." Inside the cavity was the worst looking science experiment I have seen in a long, long time. It looked like moldy, congealed ghoulish grey dryer lint, caked so thick, he had to use a knife to scrape it all out. (note, I got him to do it). I had no idea this was something that I should have been doing. This is the longest I have ever lived with one dishwasher. I guess I have always left former dishwashers before they became so needy. There are so many things that can start to require attention once you live in a house for - oh, I'd say any longer than 4 or 5 years. We have lived in this one now for 12 years (the dishwasher is 11) and I'm sure if I looked closely enough, I could find a few other hidden gems such as this dishwasher sludge if I tried. I prefer denial. I always keep spare rubber gloves under the sink, and I buy gardening gloves in bulk. I use the rubber gloves for washing dishes and any other household task that risks the possibility of my bare hand touching anything foreign and wet (sexy Italian male swimsuit models excepted - suffice to say the gloves never come off). I think I was once told that you are supposed to clean under that vent strip at the bottom of the fridge. I may have done that once a few years back and have since suppressed the unpleasant memory. After the dishwasher incident this past weekend, it may be time for me to get down on my hands and knees and have a look at that too. Despite today's cold and snowy weather, maybe it's time for a little spring cleaning. But not until I check my glove supply. Who knows what may be lurking under there?

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