Abiding by the five second rulePosted by Lori Welbourne
My parents took me out of town to visit my dad’s aunts and uncles when I was a year old. They were eager to meet the newest member of the family and my folks were excited to introduce me. Wanting to make a good impression, my mom dressed me in a frilly outfit and put barrettes in my sparse wisps of hair. With my happy eyes and winning smile, I was an instant hit.
Sitting in the fancy living room, my relatives proudly watched me toddle around, cooing over everything I did. My young parents beamed with pride at their perfect baby girl. And then, I did the unthinkable.
With all eyes on me, I found a dead fly, picked it up, inspected it closely, and promptly ate it.
“Ewww,” they collectively groaned as my mother flew across the room trying to retrieve it from my mouth. But her reflexes just weren’t fast enough. That fly was long gone.
45 years later, I still hear about that moment. My dad thinks of it as a funny “first impression” kind of story. I consider it a good tale to tell when one of my friends freaks out because their kid sips out of another kid’s straw, or someone dares to double dip at the buffet.
“We’re all going to eat a pound of dirt before we die,” my father-in-law likes to say. I tend to agree with him.
Growing up as a girly girl, I can’t say I was mucking around in mud puddles as much as my little brother, but I was never too bothered by random germs. I’m still not.
“What are you so worried about?” I asked my girlfriend last week, when she pushed away her full plate of food after a mutual friend took one of her fries.
“Nothing,” she said. “I don’t like it when people touch my food.”
“But he didn’t,” I reasoned. “He said hi, helped himself to one fry and left. He didn’t even dip it in your ketchup.”
“It grosses me out,” she said. “Who knows where his hands have been.”
Notorious for her ‘germ-a-phobia’ and her ironic frequency for catching colds, I thought she might benefit from my epic story of survival after eating that fly. Goodness knows where its hands had been.
I also thought she might lighten up if she knew about all the wads of pre-chewed gum I’d found and chomped on in my childhood, yet lived to talk about. Or if I shared the five second rule my family abided by that would allow us to eat anything that hit the floor briefly.
“I never get sick,” I said, as if I’d been presenting scientific proof to her. “I think a few germs here and there can help our immune system.”
She disagreed and exchanged her plate of food for a new one.
After the server returned with her replacement meal, a baby at the next table dropped his soother on the floor. Similar to my family watching me at that age, my friend looked on in horror at what happened next.
The boy’s mother picked the soother up from the floor, cleaned it off in her own mouth and gave it back to her son.
My friend may never eat again, but I’ll still be working on my allotted pound of dirt.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com