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D. John Bray: Fear of germs is getting out of hand

When, as a mere lad, I went to our dentist, Dr. Marvin Israel – I thought a country was named for him – he would stick his fingers and tools in my mouth to check on the status of my teeth. When I went to the family doctor, Dr. Norman Wolf, he would check me over with his hands and a stethoscope perhaps. Same in the military, hands-on only.

I survived all this “hands-on” stuff, still have all my teeth and am in pretty good health.

During the past decade, we have all seen the “gloved hands protective policy” go into full effect, supposedly protecting us from unforeseen and unknown terrible diseases that if left unblocked could unleash the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” upon us. It has spread from the medical clinics and hospitals to the local neighborhood.

Latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves have become ubiquitous, from fast-food emporiums, to supermarkets, factories, hair salons, police and candy stores. Now, gloves are available at gas pumps.

Ironically, some folks have become allergic to latex and they need other gloves to protect them from gloves.

Of course, all good criminals recommend using gloves when on the job.

There are powdered latex gloves, powder-free latex gloves with aloe and vitamin E, cranberry or blossom scented and nitrile gloves in various colors, apparently for those allergic to latex or working with certain auto fluids.

I am all for protection where needed. Gloves for heavy industry, construction, sandblasting, playing hockey, driving spiffy sport cars, jousting, etc. are a necessity. But really, do we need gloves, and now hand sanitizer, for everything? Soon we will have gloves for shaking hands.

An “aversion to germs of any type” culture has started in this country, causing people to protect their skin from everything, including touching others, counter or table tops, seats, food, cars, you name it – don’t touch it. Yet these same people think nothing of grabbing a beer glass at the local pub for a cold one. Strange indeed.

It’s a wonder those of us who grew up during the past 50 years without this gloved protection are still alive. We touched everything, tasted everything, including dirt, stuck our hands all over the bikes and cars we were working on, ate with our hands at picnics, arm wrestled, touched hot tar to see if it was really hot and anything else of interest.

Medical masks, once the purview of the medical field, are now a growing phenomenon, spreading to the average man or woman on the street and combined with gloves and in some cases helmets. The human form is disappearing under “safety precautions.”

Mandatory federal and local personal protection laws requiring seat belts and bicycle helmets now are in effect. Can gloves and masks be far behind?

Most of the time, I use my seat belts (how did we drive our hot rods without them?) and I wear a helmet when on my Harley. But I grew up riding my bicycle on the city streets without a helmet.

I consider myself a careful person: I do not use my teeth to remove beer caps and during the winter no longer grab onto the back of cars going down the icy street for a ride. I might if they still had bumpers.

But gloves? Only on my Harley or if I hold up a bank.