I was at a bar, in the toilet area. I’d just gone for a pee and was about to open the door and exit, when I heard a gruff voice from behind me.
“Are you going to wash your hands buddy?”
I turned around, and standing before me was a big burly stranger, bearded and menacing looking. He looked like he could knock me out with one mighty blow from his old gnarled hand. He obviously saw himself as the hygiene police as well – keeping people clean and sanitised throughout the lands. Despite his authority on the matter, it appeared to me that he’d got things wrong and was stuck believing a nonsensical tradition; a tradition widely accepted throughout society without question. Just as slavery had once been accepted; just as racial prejudices and sexual discrimination were ingrained in culture; just as homosexuality had been deemed a psychiatric problem that could be fixed with strong electrical impulses to the brain and reprogramming with pictures of nude women.
“No, I already have washed my hands… but I did it before I went for a piss of course”
I replied and then ducked out before he could respond.
There was no way that I was going to go to the toilet and touch my clean penis without washing my hands. I’d showered that morning, washed my genitals with soap then packed them away in my underpants. There they had stayed all day, clean and untouched by the world and its grime.
My hands had had a far differed day. They had been washed in the shower too, but since then had faced the grubby world without break. Greeting people with handshakes, typing at a computer, opening doors and closing them, grabbing posts and poles and handrails – all touched a thousand times by a thousand strangers. Lastly, I had gone to the pub, ordered myself a beer, which I had paid for with some coins that had been in my pocket. Those coins had likely been in circulation for a few years, moving from one hand to the next without discrimination.
Who was the person before me who’d used the coin? I am not exactly sure – but the change had come from a coffee shop that morning when I’d ordered my routine caffeine hit to kick start the day. The customer before me had no doubt left the coins. It didn’t matter who they were. They could have been the cleanest person that had ever walked this earth – A walking sanitizer complete with baby wipes and disinfectant gel. It didn’t matter if they were for they had got the coins from somewhere. An infinite exchange of coins from one person to another, from pocket to cash register, from purse to person, on to the floor and back up again, into banks and out, through one hand and on to the next, to charity tins and newspaper stands, to busker’s hats and into the hands of hobos and vagrants and bankers and bus-drivers.
A homeless man with nothing had those coins. He begged all day outside a train station to collect enough to buy a bottle of cheap wine. The bottle-shop owner had paid his casual student employee with those same coins. A fifty dollar note and a few coins for the three hour evening shift. The student had gone down to the coffee shop the next morning and bought himself a latte to get him through a long day of study. His exams were close and he loved nothing more than a morning coffee and a roll-your-own cigarette before he began. That same lad had been a few customers in front of me when I’d bought my coffee. I was working full-time so my dreams were a little less exuberant than the students. Life had knocked me round a little, but we both turned to the coffee bean in a moment of understanding. The waitress smiled and gave me my change. The change that the student had given her, and his boss at the bottle-shop had given him and the bum had given to boss at the bottle-shop. The same change that a flu ridden child had given to the bum as she asked her mum if it was alright to give that poor dirty beggar fifty cents of her money from a purse she carried hoping to look older than her seven years of age. Her mother had been a little hesitant at first, but there was a genuine empathy in her daughter for the plight of the homeless man, and the mother didn’t want her to lose that just yet.
That was her coin that I had carried and used at the bar. The last thing my hands had touched last before the beer had made its way quickly through my body, and into my bladder. You’ve got to go when you’ve got to go right? And I did go, but the first thing I did as I went into that grubby bathroom with graffiti on the toilet doors and a condom vending machines hanging precariously on the wall, was wash my hands. My hands which had held those coins that had been through a thousand hands before they reached mine. The hands that had opened the brass door handle of the toilet, had brushed past another man in the bar drinking away the last remaining hours of his day. Those hands were dirty and my penis was clean. It had been tucked away in my underpants all day without a glimpse of the sunshine or the city life I lead. There was no way I was taking it out for that much needed piss without giving those hands a descent scrub – Sanitising them for my sanitised penis.
I must wash away the grime from my hands before it rubs off on other more susceptible parts of the body. This is a pretty important part of anatomy we are talking about. This is where my sexual pleasure is attained, and one day it may have big part to play in procreation and the furthering of my genes. You cannot be too careful when it is involved.
Sure I could wash my hands before and after like a surgeon, but I am not a germ freak so once is enough for me, and there’s no way I am going to wash my hands after going to the toilet but not before. That is absurd, and would be like the surgeon washing his implements after he’d finished his surgery but going straight in with an old rusty scalpel.
As I zipped up my fly and turned to the door I heard a gruff voice behind me:
“Are you going to wash your hands buddy?”
No way man – my hands a clean – I washed them before I went. All they have done since is touch my beautiful clean penis and helped it let out a long sterile pee. They are cleaner than they will ever be.
I looked back at the man and smiled.
“The question is did you wash yours before you went?”