Dane is convinced that I’m a germaphobe. I don’t really buy into it, but I will concede that I do have a bit of fear against funky bacteria. But it’s not my fault.
When I was kid growing up in the back woods of Western North Carolina, trash disposal solutions were a bit more creative than those city folk who paid to have a truck come get their neatly-contained bags off the curb. The waste companies didn’t drive out to where we lived, so we had to take our trash to the landfills ourselves. “Eco-friendly” wasn’t a part of Southern culture at that point (and still really isn’t), so it was common for Southerners to burn their paper trash and take whatever couldn’t be burned to the dump. Since the landfill charges by weight, why take all that paper junk that could be disposed of for free? (If you consider yourself “green”, I know this has to be painful.)
When it came to spoiled food, we didn’t have a garbage disposal that connected to our septic tank (we had a well), so our other options were to put it in with the trash to be burned (can’t have a fire if your fuel is wet), the trash going to the landfill (why pay extra for the added weight), or you could just chuck the old, gross, stinky food out into the woods for the opossums, skunks, and raccoons to ingest. The culture chose option number three and hasn’t really looked back since. As a youngster growing up in the holler, it was my job to take the bowl/bucket/tin can of slop (if we were farmers, this would be the sow’s cue) out back to the woods and chuck it. This was the worst part of my week.
I detested the smell of pinto beans that had been leftovers for a week too long, the blue-green fuzz that was growing on anything with dairy in it, and the smell of any meat, real or fake, that had been neglected far past its shelf-life. It was a chore that I could handle by myself at that age, so my mom consistently left it up to me to dispose of all that muck. (I’d say she didn’t want to smell it either, but you don’t know my mother. She could handle it and then some, she just didn’t want to take time away from wiping down the fridge shelves to run outside.) I whined profusely, using any tactic possible to get out of having to hold that nastiness in front of me, risking the possibility that I might trip and end up wearing rancid food. But my mother, who comes from a long line of farmers and, despite her city ways, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, wouldn’t budge. “Laura, just DO IT.” (Nike owes her some money, I believe.)
So fast-forward to 2011: I take Greek yogurt and blueberries to work with me one morning. I enjoy my food, put the lid on the Rubbermaid container, and place it in a bag with other miscellaneous items that I’m carrying around that day. I have errands to run after work, so I throw the bag in the back seat of my car and go about my day, forgetting that the very thing I fear most is coming to life in my precious car. Do I remember to grab the bag when I’m done for the day? No, of course not. That would be responsible of me. Fast-forward again to a couple of weeks later: I’m finally cleaning out my car before I take a trip home and what do I find? You bet your butt. I find a plastic container with more black dots on it than a Dalmatian. I immediately squeal, look around to see if anyone heard me, then take out the silverware also in the bag, tie the bag up really tight, and run over to the trash can in the parking lot to dispose of the nastiness, container and all. I never had to smell the stank or burn my retinas with its ugliness.
So yes, babe, I guess I am a germaphobe.
Yours in OCD splendor,