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Let’s just jump right into this one: as I’ve grown older, I find that getting food on my fingers grosses me out.

There.

This classic photo has been around for decades. It’s hard to find words to describe how effing gross this is to me. Poor kid!

I don’t like having dirty hands in general but I’m pretty sure that’s a universal truth … not anything out of the ordinary. Specifically, I don’t like getting greasy or sticky food on my fingers. I can grind my palm on the ground or dip it in motor oil and outside of not liking my hands being dirty, I’m okay with it. But holding a slice of greasy pizza or having ice cream melt down my palm is unacceptable. One would think that a dirty hand is a dirty hand, right? I’m not quite sure why greasy or sticky food is big problem for me. Even watching someone get messy fingers gets me squeamish.

For the sake of full disclosure, this phobia is not all-consuming. I’m not seeing a shrink or wearing surgical gloves to Famous Dave’s. It’s a mild weirdness but it does cause me to have certain rules while eating things with my hands that most people wouldn’t think twice about. The most frequent questions are: How do you eat ribs? Does it keep you from eating chicken wings? What about pizza or hamburgers? Have you consulted a specialist? Stuff like that.

The answer is no. The phobia doesn’t keep me from eating all the things I love to eat. My belt is evidence of that. The poor thing is like a high-tension cable on a suspension bridge.

My love for food trumps this stupid “dirty hands” issue every time, however, depending on what utensils or cleaning facilities are available at the time, it does alter how I eat it. Oftentimes pizza, hamburgers, rickety sandwiches, burritos, and wraps are eaten with a fork and knife.

For those reasons, I had inadvertently developed a rule for eating which my friends have dubbed: The First Knuckle Rule.

The First Knuckle Rule states that while eating something greasy, sticky or with a sauce, such as BBQ ribs, chicken wings, etc., I can hold the food with the forefinger and thumb of each hand, but the sauce cannot travel down my fingers below the first knuckle. Only the forefinger and thumb are allowed to become soiled. No other fingers may participate.

There is only one exception to this rule: popcorn.

When eating popcorn, I allow the middle finger to be involved and allow touching the food past the first knuckle but only up to the second knuckle. These allowances are predicated on the trust that popcorn is primarily dry. In addition, I always get the huge tub and plenty of napkins while at a theater. The wide open mouth of the tub ensures that while reaching in to get popcorn, no other part of my hand will accidently touch the sides. I mean, there could be some BFO (butter flavored oil) on the sides. Ick.

There are some other factors that have a more subtle affect on how I eat (Wet-Nap or washroom availability; or if I think it might be awhile before I have those things available) but I think I’ve revealed enough on the subject for you to say, “Well … there’s yet another internet weirdo.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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