"The worst part of travelling is the toilets," my father would say as he wheeled off the tissue in two long, thin stripes, then shaped them neatly 'till they haloed the throne of some highway restroom, sat me down firmly, and waited. "Never can tell who sat here before."
He was, of course, quite right--just wasn't at all like home on those tall, hard stools with the gap in the seat. I knew even then that his blessed layer of paper kept me safe from gluttonous germs just waiting to feast on my innocent fanny.
Eighteen years later, when I'd become so much wiser than he, I simply refused to dress stools like my father, sure that his excessive tidyness was a course in bigotry designed to make clear that human beings had sinful behinds; it was that cursed total depravity rearing itself once again, keeping young Calvinists like me fearful of loving and trusting and being a brother.
Then, years later, a father myself, I'd wait for my son while his eyes scanned scribbles I was thrilled he couldn't read on chalky bathroom walls. When the task was over, he'd get off by himself, eyeing those oddly incredible drawings, and I'd peel off a tangled white stripe stuck to his pudgy behind.
Well, wouldn't you know? Turns out I was right when I was a mop-haired, late-sixties pseudo hippie, at least according Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who claims my dad's sweet fatherliness was quite unnecessary since whatever hungry germs he thought waiting for me on the lid were, in fact, incapable of finding a place on my toddler's behind.
I'm not making this up. And I'm talking to you, Dutch-America.
Those blessed paper liners one finds in well-tended public restrooms today exist only because of a toilet's inherent "ick" factor, or so he claims, because most of us--my family especially--are blessed with substantially secure and bountiful flesh on our bottoms.
Please. This isn't just my lame attempt at potty humor.
Turns out that your cutting board--that's right, that one in your very own kitchen--hosts a 200 times larger collection of fecal matter than that truck stop toilet seat. Schaffner claims the sink sponge you use for dishes is really heavy-laden, 200,000 times worse. Pardon my eeeeeuuuwww.
Here's the really bad news: whatever germs may be on that foreign seat, he says, are likely already aboard your keister. Think of it. No don't.
Anyway, that's the news from an actual Professor of Preventative Medicine, at Vanderbilt, no less, the Harvard of the South. Look it up.
Well, I for one don't buy it, and pardon my skepticism. On this one, I'm solidly Republican. What the heck does science know anyway?
It's all a scam. Listen! They're the ones who told us to stop eating butter.