I have this thing about not getting my hands dirty while eating, even if it’s a finger food feast, I have to wipe them after every bite. I actually don’t dislike eating with my hands, but if I do, I must keep ample napkins around or I get nervous. Eating buffalo wings is a special chore and I always tip extra because I will inevitably leave a mountain of used and stained shredded napkins and lemon-scented wet wipes.
This aversion has made me wary of some typically messy foods. Thus, I avoid melty ice cream cones—unless I am willing to eat fast and get an ice cream headache—popsicles, watermelon, otter pops, ribs, poorly constructed burritos, and sandwiches that don’t respect the reduced friction of, say, avocado on heavily mayonaised bread.
I don’t understand people who don’t use their napkin. The worst is when I see people with dirty food fingers reach for their beverage. How can they do that? Don’t they understand how deeply they are venturing into the cycle of uncleanliness? Even if they wipe their fingers after the next bite, that beer has already been sullied, soiled for the rest of the meal. They might as well just grab it, chug it and order a fresh one, that would be their only way to break the cycle.
These non-wipers also usually look at me and think, “why would you clean your hands every time you pick something up? Just do it once at the end and you’ll save the hassle and a ton of napkins.” These are the same savages who’ll be eating a basket of wings and keep their empty, grubby hands up in front of them like little T-Rexes not wanting their hands to flail about too far from their kill lest they get something dirty. I can see the sauce dripping down their fingers and hands, sometimes reaching their sleeves. I fantasize about dragging them into the kitchen and hosing them down with the rinse sprayer to wash away that sticky interdigit buffalo sauce. The feeling of your fingers sticking together—due to anything—is my personal fifth ring of hell.
Am I the weirdo for wiping my fingers after every bite, or are they the weirdos for letting some sauce keep them from being able to scratch their noses? Though I do get a kick out of seeing them scratch their nose with their forearm or seeing them pull up their sleeves with their teeth. Sometimes the very advanced will even check their phones with a clean-enough pinky or the back of the knuckle even. It seems the savages are evolving.
So here I am being all nervous at meal times because of this hand-cleanliness neurosis (if you can even call it that, I’m just trying to separate myself from the beasts), and my soon-to-be three-year-old is showing signs of a similar tendency. However. (Deep breath.) However, his hands get really dirty at meals and he does not use his napkin. He’ll use his shirt, or the table, or his sleeve, or my sleeve, or the cat. What’s worse, the day care reports that “he’s such a tidy eater! He uses his napkin (caretaker dabs an imaginary napkin on aristocratically pursed lips), he folds his napkin and leaves it next to his plate and keeps his little fingers clean!” At home, I suppose, there are no others to impress so it’s pumpkin soup from his wrist to his shoulder in one swift full-arm wipe. It’s a bunched up napkin on the floor and it’s little fingers with with enough DNA evidence under his fingernails to link him to too many crimes scenes for a two-year-old. It’s pretty clear; he’s his father at day care and his mother at home. And that’s A-OK.
Photo credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26576277