Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who's laughing now?

I was right. Is there any sweeter phrase in the English language? I was right and by extension someone else was wrong. In this case the three people that were the most wrong were acclaimed writers Jeff Shelby, Bob Morris and Christine Kling. That’s right these three, educated, respected, intelligent people can kiss my ass. They made fun of me and they were mistaken in their ridicule.

These three know a little quirk I have. They’ve made fun of this quirk. Now I’m the one that has to pay the price. You see I’m a little bit of a germ-a-phobe. Nothing serious. Nothing clinical. I just don’t like germs. I’m occasionally, these three might claim, overzealous in my efforts to avoid certain surfaces that could be a harbor for other people’s germs. Places like, bathroom doors, toilet seats, public handrails, inside of taxis, the outside of taxis, buses, elevators, public phones, public pools where the temperature is not over 100 Fahrenheit (or hot tubs under 100 Fahrenheit. Either way).

How do I prove my actions you ask? I got sick. This weekend, while on a trip to Alabama, I let up a little. Just to see what it was like. I didn’t sleep as much as I normally do, no Airborne. I washed my hands fewer times. I went wild. And now I have a cold. I bad one. Every cough, every sneeze is my way of saying “I’m right,” to those critics of my behavior.

Why these three? How did they figure out the Da Vinci code of my hygiene? I travel with them. Not all the time but enough that they picked up on it. The lovely Christine Kling lives near me and it’s convenient for several of us to fly together to Bouchercon or other common events. She’s fun. She laughs at my jokes. Or was she laughing at me? Regardless, she thought my cleanliness was a little more than average. Now who’s laughing?

Shelby spent the night with me in a hotel during my tour. No, not like you’d think. I was tired. Any way, he caught on pretty quick too. I had just started the Airborne addiction our own Jacqueline Winspear had suggested. I’m used to his ridicule but now who’s laughing?

Bob Morris? I just chalked up his distain for soap to being a graduate of the University of Florida. Maybe that is the beginning and end of it.

Any way, I’ve had this cold of vindication since Sunday night and at least emotionally I feel better. I had training on Tuesday where we shot a combat course that involved moving and shooting a shotgun as well as our duty handguns. Then we had a ground fighting class where we were waaaaay too close to each other for most of the afternoon. It only aggravated my cold. But now that I’m back to frequent hand washing and decent night’s sleep, I hope to return to my insulated world of soap, airborne and antiseptic hand wash very soon.

Today’s the day.

Actually tonight. I will be saying a special prayer for our own Cornelia Read and Paul Levine. Is it right to ask God that they crush the competition and emerge victorious? Well, I think it’s great the Edgar committee recognized them and I do hope they win.

We’ll know by this time tomorrow.

I had planned to attend the ceremony as well as other events scheduled this week but I had a nice distraction. Tonight I'm going to my son's student government banquet where he, as president of the student council, will deliver a speech. I don't know what the content is or if he'll speak clearly but I'm proud of him and whatever he says.


  1. I haven't read Paul's, but I'm deep into Cornelia's book (I know, I know, I am so slow) and I have my fingers crossed, too.

    As for the cold, I think that has more to do with whom you sleep (Shelby) than what toilet handles you touch.

  2. Paulie and I knew about your "condition" and we didn't make fun of you—at least not to your face. Now you know who your real friends are.

    Get well.

    Keeping fingers crossed with you.

  3. Jim,

    It's not disdain that I have for your phobic behavior, it's sympathy. I can only imagine how put-upon you must feel, as an author, having to haul out the Handi-Wipes every time you shake someone's hand after you've signed a book for them. Lucky for you, your lines are never that long...

    But this is what I'm looking forward to hearing about: Your report on your upcoming Winjammmer cruise with your lovely wife Donna. Jim, have you ever seen one of these Winjammer ships? Better, have you ever smelled one? Bilge, baby, bilge. And you are crammed below decks with a couple hundred germ-incubating passengers for a week. There ain't enough Handi-Wipes in the world... get your shots.

  4. Jim, no offense, but how could you have been a cop all these years and have such serious germ issues? Isn't that like being a surgeon and not liking the sight of blood? Or a tightrope walker with a fear of heights? Or a sous-chef with a phobia about…sous?

  5. The lovely Debby, whom I intended to send an e-mail of greeting to this week but was distracted, brings up a good point.

    There is a definite cut-off between work and my daily life. I have never had an issue at work. My problem is more in public places.

    The bilge smell of a Windjammer will bother me less than the smells I've endured at work. But the idea of steadying myself on a handrail where someone else, that I don't know, already has touched, bugs me.

    I'm touched by everyone's concern.


  6. "You see I’m a little bit of a germ-a-phobe."

    Yes, in the same way that the diaper wearing astronaut was " a little bit" crazy.

    You do know how some diseases can lie dormant for YEARS and then just show up randomly, right? I believe, in fact, that most of those dormant diseases come from Winjammer cruises.

  7. "You do know how some diseases can lie dormant for YEARS and then just show up randomly, right? I believe, in fact, that most of those dormant diseases come from Winjammer cruises."

    Head lice. Scabies. Canker sores. Bubonic plague.

  8. Jim, you haven't been to mainland China. Airports there would send you screaming for cover. And the toilets. Just basically holes in the ground (these are restrooms in the airport, restaurants, government buildings) with little ridges where you put your feet.

    I was germ phobic like you until China. You just have to give it up after seeing stuff like that. It's a no-win situation.

  9. I found this blog through a friend's blog.

    Jim, you haven't been to mainland China. Airports there would send you screaming for cover. And the toilets. Just basically holes in the ground (these are restrooms in the airport, restaurants, government buildings) with little ridges where you put your feet.

    It's the same in Thailand. I was an Air Force brat the first 17 years of my life. When I lived in Thailand (towards the end of the war in Vietnam), young Thais, knowing that Americans were not used to their hole-in-the-ground toilets, took a perverse joy in going into the next stall and climbing up the wall to observe how you handled using their facilities.

    As for being a germ-a-phobe, behaviour which is too extreme in that direction can actually work against you. By not exposing yourself to some nasty microbes now and then, you run the risk of becoming more seriously ill than you might otherwise, simply because your immune system was not allowed to develop the necessary tolerance for it.

    That said, I'm not necessarily condoning carelessness. I once got a bit lax in a men's room at work and ended up with an eye infection. It's more important to strike a balance between being germ-a-phobic and not giving a rat's ass.

  10. Hi Jim,

    Sorry you've got a cold - a vindictive one at that. My husband and I have used those hand sanitizers and airborne for the last several years - and been 99% illness free. The only times I get something is if my sinuses dry out too much and I don't drink enough. Otherwise, we take airborne when entering airports/planes, cinemas, some peoples houses, or anywhere where there is bound to be a crush of people. The important thing to remember if you can't get to your hand sanitizer or wash your hands is 'not to touch your face' until you do. You'd be surprised at the difference it makes.

    Also, Airborne can be taken during a cold to lessen the symptoms - same with sinus infections and such - and to get over the illness much faster.

    Hope you're feeling better soon.

  11. Go Cornelia!! Go Paulie!!

    Rah, Rah, Rah!!

    Break a leg, o-talented ones!


  12. I fear someone will go home from the awards with "it's a honour to be nominated." But Naked Authors should at least go 1 for 2.......Read between the lines,here, to guess who I think has the best shot at bringing home the statue. Guess we'll know tomorrow.