When I was a kid, I liked bugs. Maybe that was strange. Or maybe it was just part of my early fascination with nature.
I remember being fascinated with the beetles that gravitated to the white flowered bushes surrounding our house. Sometimes I would let a beetle crawl on my arm, enjoying the tickling sensation. I told you I was weird.
That fascination with bugs meant I spoiled the fun of mischievous neighborhood boys who got a kick out of capturing insects and throwing them on girls. Instead of running away shrieking like the others girls did, I played with the insects.
And sure, I was one of those kids who caught bumblebees, put them in a jar with holes in the lid, and watched them for a while before letting them go.
Lightening bugs always fascinated me and still do. What kid could resist running through a field to catch lightening bugs?
My mother, like most parents of that time, let me run free each day, playing outdoors until it turned dark. She only had one thing she asked of me: Stay clean. But I never managed that.
Playing in mud was part of childhood. So was playing in the creek. We just couldn't let our parents know about the creek. They thought we might drown.
What we didn't know then was that there was a bigger danger in playing in the creek – raw sewage discharged into it. How we all didn't die of Typhoid Fever or some infectious disease is beyond me.
Sometimes, when I remember things like that, I wonder how I ever lived long enough to grow up.
My daughters never shared my fascination with insects. They never played in dirt and had a propensity to remain clean. My grandkids are the same way.
I've often been surprised at how much they worry about germs. No one has to tell them to wash their hands or not use other people's towels or personal items. They seem to have been born with a phobia about germs.
From what I told you about my childhood, you know I never had that phobia. Until now. I'm getting to the point where I'm afraid of germs, too.
No wonder. We are bombarded with warnings about germs lurking everywhere.
The kitchen sink, we are told, harbors more germs than the toilet area.
Food contains contaminants that can make us sick, we have learned.
We have been schooled to carefully wash lettuce, other produce and fruit because they might harbor germs that will sicken us.
This week takes the cake. We were warned about showerheads. They just don't spray water. Millions of bacteria, we are told, rain down on us along with the water.
One researcher released a warning this week saying it is healthier to breathe the air in a New York subway than to shower in our own homes.
I don't know about you but I have reached overload.
At first I bought antibacterial soap, threw away kitchen sponges and wiped down c