Neurosis about germs is something that has run in my family for at least the last three generations and is a problem I have worked hard to shake. While a certain amount of germ awareness is healthy for the prevention of illness, some measures are taken merely to avoid the mental horrors one is plagued with if contact is made with a supposed contaminant.
My mother's fear that sock and underwear germs somehow stick to the washing machine and contaminate other clothes is bordering on insanity. Were this fantasy actually true, there is still no risk of illness should foot sweat be transferred to one's shoulder. I am yet to hear a case of "athletes abs" transferred from a freshly laundered t-shirt.
As silly as this sounds and while I don't share that particular fear, I have something similar. Should I come into contact with something that disgusts me, I tend to "feel it" on the place it came into contact with for quite some time. For instance, the time I shook hands with the rubber gloved hand of a janitor, even after good go-over with hand sanitizer and eventually water, I could "feel" where his hand met mine for a good half an hour and didn't want to touch the steering wheel. Similar feelings occur even if the hand is clean, but the shaker is sporting a cloth band-aid. The feeling will linger only on the spot on my finger that came into contact with it.
Dirty hands WITH a band-aid. Send help.
The lasting impressions aren't always for bad things. If someone with clean but extremely dry hands reaches out for a greeting, that will last too. If someone I don't really know that well gives me a friendly kiss on the cheek, if it is wet, I can "feel" it long after it has dried. I've never known what to make of this peculiar linger. Just when I checked all the boxes and thought I qualified as sane, I realised I'd forgotten about my phantom feelings. These germs have a presence and demand my attention. I am an attentive, though not welcoming, host.
Perhaps the strangest thing is that this phenomenon works through inanimate objects. Every pair of shoes I own seem to have these powers to the point that you'd thing they were all crafted with special sensors, but in fact, they are usually about as cheap as they come and void of customisation. Should I step in something like wet bread, I will "feel" it through my shoe for quite some time. One should feel comfort and security that their trusty shoe has taken the blow of the horror that is wet bread, dog faeces, or a stream of human urine if you're strolling around London late at night, but alas, my shoes take on the same, lasting impression my skin does. The icky-ness runs up my leg and into my head, though on deeper thought, it is obviously running head to shoe. My clothing also carries germ memories, like when a man who obviously failed to wash his hands after touching his penis to pee makes contact. A pat on the back might as well be a stabbing.
Holed up in bed. Covered in remnants of touches.
I was inspired to write this blog after this horrifying story of a man spraying people with a semen filled water bottle was brought to my attention. I daresay that if I were a victim, I would continue to "feel" that for upwards of a year until which time, skin replacement would be considered.