Monday, October 9, 2017

Ch 12 Sly and Doris take us out to dinner, which is generous of them (they probably did it just so they wouldn’t have to use cloth napkins again) and Sly touches all the bread in the bread basket, which – really, Sly?

Holy smoke. If I weren’t on Vicodin, I might have slapped Sly’s hand.

The man has touched every single piece of bread in the basket. He grabbed one piece of bread from the basket, dropped it, grabbed another, decided it wasn’t to his satisfaction, and finally took another instead.

Who touches every piece of bread in the communal bread basket? People raised in a barn, that’s who. Does Sly think the normal rules of civilized behavior do not apply to him?

Instead of slapping his hand, instead of challenging him, I just don’t take any bread. Not because I am worried about catching a disease from him but on principle. There are things you do just because you have no choice, but there are things that no civilized person should have to endure.

I have cleaned cat vomit and cat poop and I have cleaned human poop from the men’s room floor at the pool where I worked as a lifeguard and I have picked up chipmunk carcasses after the cat is done with them. I have cleaned my own vomit and my friend’s toddler’s vomit. I have changed many a diaper. I have used some of the most disgusting public bathrooms you will ever see because when you have to pee, you have to pee. I don’t even always wash my hands after I pee, sometimes because there is no water, as in the bus station bathroom in La Paz, sometimes because I don’t pee on my hands,[1] people.

This is outside of the La Paz bus station. Trust me, you do not want to see the inside.

But I do not touch shared food with my bare hands. That’s Manners 101. You do not inflict your bodily fluids or contaminants on other people. Fine to touch your own food with your germy hands, not fine to touch other people’s food. If I am doing anything involving food other people will eat, I WASH MY HANDS. And then I touch the food only because I am preparing it. But at the table – I use utensils. Or touch only the food I am taking.

Although if Primo touches the bread, I don’t care. I kiss him. We already share germs. I have even used his toothbrush before by mistake and thought, “Oh well.”

His hands – and he is paranoid about washing them and gets all freaked out if there are dishes in the kitchen sink and he can’t wash them there even though I point out that he can wash in the bathroom, where he gets his drinking water – don’t bother me at all. I also point out that it is possible to wash hands in the same sink where there are dirty dishes because it’s not like you are going to make the dishes any dirtier.[2]

I do not pick my nose or my toes in front of other people, although I did have a roommate in the Peace Corps (an American studying in Chile) who would play with her bare feet and pick her toes and her toenails at the supper table. And then she would reach for food. With her fingers. That’s a great diet: to be so disgusted with someone else’s manners that you can’t eat.

I don’t touch the bread I’m not going to eat.

Sly is grossing me out. Rude.

I do not say anything to Sly about the bread, although I gave him several pointed, disbelieving, dropped-jaw looks that either he ignores or, more likely, doesn’t notice.

Barnyard manners.

I do, however, argue with him about school lunches and who pays and no, I do not remember how we got onto this topic. I am on Vicodin, remember?

Sly: Stephanie and Jack’s kids got the free school lunches.

Me: Wow. Jack must have been pretty bad off.

Sly: Jack?

Me: That his children were getting free lunch.

Sly: Oh! No, he has a good job.

Me: But not before the kids went to college?

Sly: No, he had a good job then.

Me: Then why would they have gotten free lunch?

Sly: Because Stephanie’s the custodial parent and only her income counts. But I think she somehow gamed the system.

Me: What? That’s crazy. Why shouldn’t the income of both parents matter? And really, Stephanie does not strike me as a cheater. Not to mention it is pretty hard to cheat on something like that. Don’t you have to show your tax returns for something like that?

Sly: That’s how it works. Just the custodial parent’s income matters.

Me: But you said Jack has a good job.

Sly: That doesn’t matter.

Me: So Jack was OK with the fact that his kids were on free lunch even though he could have afforded to pay for their lunch?

Sly: Why should he pay if he doesn’t have to?

Me: Because they’re his kids! I would be ashamed to take public assistance if I didn’t need it.

Sly: If the system is set up that way, why shouldn’t he take advantage?

Me: Because for one thing, when people who do have means do this, it means less for the people who are truly needy. But mostly because they’re his children. He can afford to take care of his own children. Why should I pay more in taxes so they get free lunch when he can afford it but won’t pay?

Primo, the adult child of alcoholics peacemaker: Dad, what do you think about this wine?

[1] My friend Charlotte grew up in Africa with her missionary parents. Her Big Secret is that she does not wash her hands. “I never get sick,” she says. “I have an immune system of steel.”
[2] None of this applies, of course, if you have been dipping your hands in Ebola virus. But for everyday situations, it is fine to wash dirty hands in the same sink where there are dirty dishes.


  1. Was Jack paying alimony and child support? Alimony is taxable earned income; child support is not, but it is reportable, so if you have to submit your taxes to qualify for free lunch, both child support and alimony could be considered. (I have no idea how it actually works.)

    1. Yeah, I think Sly was just full of crap. I don't know if Jack was paying alimony, but he was definitely paying child support. (Which ended at 18, which was part of his justification - just like Sly's - that he did not have to help with his children's college tuition - if the law didn't tell him he had to, why should he?)

      I am pretty sure that someone getting free lunch has to show documentation.

  2. Eeuw, touching shared bread....Nope, I wouldn't eat either. And I love bread.

    Some school systems now offer free lunch to ALL kids (NYC public schools leading the way) to avoid stigma and other issues...