Monday, January 31, 2011


Over the weekend my family finally had the chance to take me out for my birthday dinner. The fates conspired and we were all in the same place at the same time(doesn't happen often). We wound up at Brewer's Alley, a great brew pub in Frederick MD with an incredibly wide selection on it's menu. I love their Mac & Cheese.

But this isn't a food post. The food was great, don't get me wrong, but my mother pointed something out during dinner and after that we were all just transfixed.

Sitting behind our table in one of the booths was a couple. They were probably in their mid to late 50's and simply judging from their appearance, I would say, on the upper portion of the income scale. After ordering the wife reached into her purse and removed a bottle of Antibacterial gel that looked way too big to fit in her purse to begin with(Hello? Mary Poppins!!!). Both her and her husband partook of the clear fluid and copiously smeared it about their hands and forearms.

Now I see that all the time. People carry those bottles around like the plague has returned. What commenced from that point was a ritual, that I almost have to assume is repeated every time this couple eats at a place that isn't their own dining room table.

Once her hands were sufficiently "sanitized", the wife began wiping down the flatware. I have also seen people do this in restaurants, not horribly uncommon. What struck me as odd, is that she wasn't using the napkin (which was white, and obviously freshly laundered) she was using towelette wipes she had brought in her purse. She then reached across the table and proceeded to perform the same ritual on her husband's knife and fork.

I thought, "Oh wow…that's a lot to go through for a night out. But it wasn't over yet! Once their drinks arrived the exterior of the glasses were treated to the same loving wipe-down as the flatware. I couldn't wait to see what she was going to do to the plate of food once it was set on the table.

No luck there, when the food arrived, they grasped their "sanitized" flatware and dug in. The highlight of the entire Circus Act was when the husband asked her to pass the salt. She paused, reached into her bag, grabbed another towelette and picked up the salt shaker, like it was a rotting piece of flesh, and passed it to her husband. Of course, it was very important that she turn the shaker just perfectly so that he could also grab the "towelette protected" side of the shaker.

Now, I'm not one to poke fun…alright, you got me…I am SOOOOOO totally one to poke fun, but while this was all very involved and well thought out; I am finding some holes in her sanitizing logic. First of all, what about the inside of the glass her drink came in? I'm surprised she didn't ask the waiter to bring it over before filling it to apply her chemical wash to. My other problem is her total disregard for the plate her food was sitting on. That plate could have been face down on a counter that was wiped with a wet rag. A wet rag with that had no disinfectant on it! GASP! THE HORROR!!! Not to mention the fact that if she was so concerned about the cleanliness of the salt shaker she could have quite simply brought her own packets of salt.

I appreciate, especially during Flu Season, that people feel the need to take a little precaution. HOWEVER, antibacterial wipes and gels are not going to protect you from the Flu or SARS or Herpes. The Flu is a virus, not a bacteria, so that wipe, with it's ability to stop 99% of bacteria ain't gonna do squat! At best, those wipes and gels are going to protect you against a sinus infection…maybe. It troubles me that our society, or a group of it, have become so obsessed with germs.

Germs are good. I love germs. Germs keep my immune system pumping. Germs make sure that it's harder for nasty germs to get to me.

My Hubby chastised me for making fun of the OCD folks. But I really don't think that was the case here. I have seen a lot of OCD behavior and this didn't quite fit the bill. It was almost there, but not quite. I think this poor woman is a victim of the internet. I think she has spent far too much time "Goggle"ing sites that instruct her to do these things when she eats anywhere but her own kitchen. I think if she was truly OCD she would have brought her own flatware, glassware and plate. If being sanitized were such a concern, I think an OCD person probably would have checked out the bathroom, which is always a good indicator of how the kitchen looks. I think she also would have been more concerned about her burger which she ordered medium rare. AND, I think a truly OCD person probably wouldn't have eaten out to begin with.

Lots of things just didn't "Gel", so to speak.


  1. Wow, that is a lot of money and effort to go through for a night out. I have to admit I have a bottle of the sanitizer at my desk and I inspect my flatware when I'm out - but that's for chunks!

    I do have thing about bathrooms though. I try not to touch the door with my hands after I've washed them and if I'm chewing gum when I go in, I spit it out before I leave. Just something in my head about chewing on bathroom air.

  2. I sat at Olive Garden one afternoon a year or so ago and watched a mother wipe down the table where her son would sit, and his high chair and his silverware, etc. When he dropped his wooden car on the floor tho, mama just picked it back up as she chatted to her gal pal, gave it to the kid and turned a blind eye when he put it in his mouth.

  3. I did have a birthday, it was just 2 weeks prior to when the actual dinner took place. Never said my family was punctual! LOL