I don't wear my wedding ring anymore. It's not at all some sort of statement that I'm making, "I am married, but am not marked by possession...Physical adornment by heavy jewelry is simply a stand-in for the shackles of an ever-pervasive patriarchy...Advertising economic status on one's fingers only encourages the unhealthy urge to attain more more more in the pursuit of happiness defined by material accoutrements..."
Pshaw. My fingers have just grown too fat. Plus, my hands are subjected to so much soap and water and hand sanitizer in the course of one day's living that I'm never going to get back into the career world following my dream of being a hand-model. And I keep my nails really short, to discourage gathering bacteria under them. Really, drawing attention to my stubby-nailed, soap-roughened fingers with rings is just not a great idea.
Still, I've been thinking about getting my wedding band resized. But that feels like giving up on my plan of losing weight. And then there would still be the issue of washing hands every 5 minutes or so. Not only will my hands probably continue on their course of aging at the average canine's speed (7 years for every year actually lived), but I will also have to contend with my own personal phobia concerning jewelry.
Back when I was 16, I became obsessed with owning an opal and diamond ring. I pored over pages and pages of rings displayed in the circulars that arrived stuffed behind the daily newspaper, fantasizing about the certain glow that would surround my entire being with such a piece of beauty on my finger. I took a part-time job working in food service at the hospital, saving my earnings until I had a reasonable start on my first year's college expenses. Which was when I decided that I also had enough money to sneak out a bit to finally purchase my ticket to instant loveliness, a gold ring with a little circle of opal in the middle, with the merest chip of a diamond nestled next to it.
I painted my nails, shaping them lovingly with an emery board, and wore my ring proudly every day, depositing it carefully into its velvet box on my nightstand every evening before bed.
This went on for three glorious weeks. However, working food service in a hospital means that frequent hand washing is a requirement of the job. The sinks were actually set out in the open, so the supervisor could be sure that her band of irresponsible teens were actually satisfying the hygienic demands of the hospital satisfactorily.
Of course, being 16 also meant that I was just one big walking tidal wave of hormones. So, naturally, when the guy I had a crush on decided to chat with me one day while I was washing up before work, I didn't notice the ring, slippery with soap, slide off my finger and down the drain. In the interest of sanitation, the elbow below the sink was welded closed, and the physical plant guys did not deem the $50 ring of a hormone-addled teenager reason enough to open the bend. I was miserable and, for the first time, I didn't spare a sympathetic thought for the poor souls in the floors above me who were about to be served a "soft/bland diet" off of bright orange plastic trays.
I felt silly crying over that ring. I really did. So I decided right then and there never again to wear any piece of jewelry costing more than $10. When my parents bought me a beautiful garnet necklace as a graduation present, I wore it on graduation day and then tucked it away to give to my own daughter someday. Judging by Annika's fondness for adorning herself with shiny plastic things, despite the fact that she hardly ever sees me in jewelry, I won't have to wait long for her to love that necklace. Frankie will get the opal necklace and earrings that my sister bought me to soften the blow of losing the ring.
Of course, I did wear my wedding band for several years, and it did cost more than $10 (but less than $50, if I remember correctly). I did not have, or want, an engagement ring, much to Jörg's relief. Still, I'm missing that band. I mean, if I have it resized bigger, I can surely downsize it when I finally get myself back in shape, right? It's not like giving up altogether, surely.
But there still is the issue of the non-stop hand washing, which has turned into something very like an obsession with me, post-transplant. Frankie, at 22 months, can already say "hand sanitizer" perfectly, and Annika is so well-trained that she cleans her hands in a thoroughly automatic fashion at the appropriate times (after the toilet, after touching the cat, after throwing something away, after wiping her nose, before eating, upon entering the house, upon leaving the hospital for blood draws, upon entering the car, and every 5 minutes when we're in a place crowded with children or animals).
Recently one of my favorite famous bloggers, mimi smartypants
, wrote a little paragraph wondering about the necessity of washing hands after using the toilet
. (Notice by "recently" I mean in May. See? I really do get behind on my internet reading and response duties. If you're looking, the paragraph is about halfway down, under the heading "Blasphemer.") After I picked myself up off the floor where I was writhing in pain at the mental picture of unused bathroom sinks and poop-covered hands reaching out to stroke my daughter's soft head, I fired off an email:
[blah blah blah, who I am, how much I love her writing, etc. segue to:]
But, EEEWWWWW! Questioning post-toilet hand washing?
Most tummy bugs and such friendly things as Hepatitis A are spread via oral-fecal transmission (official medical terminology!). Since I assume that most people, like me, would never intentionally put shit in their mouths, it seems safe to assume that people sometimes gets poop on their hands unintentionally while wiping or flushing or sitting down or whatever. If everyone in the world would just wash their hands with soap really well after using the toilet...(sighs dreamily)...just think of all the nasty illnesses we could wipe out (wipe out! ha!).
No ill will, though. Just a bit concerned at the thought of a new wave of rebellious hipsters skipping the soap and water.
So I guess I'm practically a hand washing activist, although my efforts are usually a bit more passive-aggressive. For instance, as I stand in public restrooms making sure that my daughter rubs her sudsy hands together for at least 15 seconds, I have to fight back the urge to correct other people's less-than-perfect hand washing techniques. Instead I usually just "remind" Annika a little too loudly to do correctly whatever it is that that poor person is doing wrong ("OK, Anni, be sure that you don't start rinsing until the full 15 seconds is up, and, no, rubbing your hands under the water with the soap still on them doesn't count!") Honestly, it's no wonder I'm not the most popular mommy around. This little control quirk of mine is exactly why my mom could only stand to stay with me for 2 weeks after the birth of Frankie.
Still, I think our society is becoming a more clean-handed one. At Annika's preschool the kids are required to wash their hands with soap and water before entering the classroom, where they are also given a squirt of Purell, just in case the hand washing was a typical preschooler's half-assed job.
And then at the county fair this past week, Annika had to use one of the port-a-potties. On the blue plastic door was a sign that advertised the fact that they were equipped with "hand-sanitizing stations" inside, which made my heart do little flutter-y things. But then, even better, after Annika was done and we turned to leave we were confronted with a cheery little sign that featured an arrow pointing to the hand sanitizer and asked, "Did you clean your hands?" Exactly like a nagging mom. Awesome. Just awesome.
So maybe someday soon having reddish hands roughened by repeated use of soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be the new mark of beauty ("Hey, look! She must have really clean
hands!"). Hey, it could happen. I still think I might get that ring resized, though. I missed Jörg while he was gone.