Married to a Germaphobe

Erin Manzarpour

© Copyright 2007 by Erin Manzarpour


So maybe he’s not a full blown germaphobe but he’s teetering on the edge. He’s one 20/20 exposé on dust mites away from needing a help group or an intervention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suffering from a “grass is always greener” syndrome. I’m happy that he’s not the real life version of Charlie Brown’s friend Pig Pen but I have my limits.

Was that 30 seconds?” I hear him say as I wash my hands in the kitchen sink. We need a bigger place, one where he can’t see me from the living room. “Damn Dateline,” I think to myself. The 30 seconds my husband is referring to is the amount of time you are supposed to wash your hands according to the latest germ warfare feature on Dateline. Apparently it’s the length of time it takes you to sing the alphabet song.  I think my hubby is singing the 12 inch extended club re-mix of the song whereas I’m singing it on fast forward.  I’ve heard his scolding on my abbreviated hand washing so many times that I treat it like a game. I wash my hands in about 10 seconds knowing that he’s watching and counting and I wait for the sigh and the sermon about germs that are sure to follow. That’s providing my little game isn’t derailed by a soccer or poker game on TV.

His washing and germ issues extend beyond my hand washing. What kind of germaphobe would he be if they didn’t? My housekeeping and laundry abilities have also come under his scrutiny.  When we first started living together I did the laundry. I’ve always done my own laundry and it wasn’t until I started living with someone that I found out that my whites were not their whitest. Shortly after he moved in, he took over the laundry duties. His less than blinding whites did not make him happy and who am I to stand in the way of anyone’s happiness? Ultimately I can’t complain, we live on the third floor of a three floor walk up. Score! What else can I apply this to I thought?

House cleaning was next. I have a system as most women do when they clean their homes. Thankfully we have a one bedroom apartment so I’m not exactly cleaning a mansion but it’s small enough for him to see what my plan of attack is. We’ve had the housekeeping version of the chicken or the egg conversation. I say you dust first then vacuum nything that has settled on the floor. He argues the opposite. Actually, he has a 4 step floor cleaning process. I call it the Manzarpour Method. Here’s how it goes.

Step 1: Sweep up the larger bits with a broom and dust pan.

Step 2: Swiffer the smaller particles the broom and dust pan leave behind.

Step 3: Vacuum the micro particles that the Swiffer has left behind and finally,

Step 4: Mop the floor.

Noah could have built the ark in the time it takes me to clean our floors. If we ever own a house, I’ll have to go on sabbatical to clean it.

Our Harvard debates on house cleaning have led us to divide and conquer. To maintain each of our small pieces of sanity, he goes grocery shopping while I clean. It works well actually. Although his 8 calls in two hours to locate the elusive polenta or mysterious bulgur wheat can derail my progress, I make the sacrifice. Not to mention he has the best stories when he comes home. All of a sudden going into Loblaws turns him into Indiana Jones of the grocery world. Navigating those rogue grocery carts can be rough on a man’s delicate ego. Once he gets in with the groceries, I hand him a sandwich and watch as his eyes sweep the room.

Did you vacuum?”

Yes” I say flatly.

Are you sure?”

Actually, I skipped the all important Step 4 of the Manzarpour Guide to Healthy and Happy Floors.” My sarcasm never goes over well.

One of my least favourite tasks as a child was doing the dishes. We never had a dishwasher, that’s what my brother and I were for, according to my parents anyway.  I’ve never grown to tolerate the dishes, I still hate doing them and now I don’t have to anymore because my dishwashing skills are also sub par. I do acknowledge the fact that at times I leave food on the odd fork or plate. It happens, but it’s not as bad as he would have you believe. According to Martha Stewart (AKA my husband), I leave the equivalent of half an omelet on a fork and use as much soap as what would fit on a pin head. Just a little note to you Ms. Reader, we go through a large bottle of dish soap every two weeks. There are only 2 of us. You do the math.

I do try to clean as I go and try not to leave a heaping mess. I’ve heard,” a good chef cleans up after themselves” a few too many times. The truth is I clean up so that I don’t land my self in jail for assault with a cast iron frying pan. “I couldn’t take it judge. He said it one too many times” I can hear myself saying to the sympathetic female judge. He usually tells me to leave the dishes when he sees me doing them. Initially I thought he was just being thoughtful since I cooked such a great meal then I realized that it was because he couldn’t bear the thought of putting the dishes I washed next to his gleaming masterpieces of cleanliness. My cutleries are the red headed step children of the utensil drawer. I do admit that I secretly have a guilty pleasure when I find peanut butter on one of his knives. I never tell him though; I just wash it again and put in the drawer.

So what do I do? He’s a sweetheart and I truly adore him regardless of my indifference towards his sworn enemy, the germ. Like I said I’m happy that he’s not a 40 year old frat boy with month old pizza colonizing itself under our bed. I guess I’ll just wait until he brings home bio-hazard suits and wraps everything in plastic wrap before I get him help. I wonder how much Dr. Phil charges?

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