Alex Blaze

The "Larry Craig" catches on

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 07, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: health care reform, HIV/AIDS, larry craig, obesity, smokers, swine flu

Leave your terrorist fist bump at home, because it'll spread the dreaded swine flu (I heard somewhere that's why the terrorists made it up and Obama tried to popularize it). NPR has a funny article up of alternatives to touching people in everyday situations. This Larry Craig-inspired gesture I like:


Because of certain lifestyle choices, I'm at a fairly high risk for getting the swine flu. I just started another year as an paraprofessional educator at three elementary schools teaching English to several hundred little kids a week. If that wasn't enough risk, these kids are mostly French, meaning that hygiene isn't really a part of their culture.


But kissing hello is. I don't kiss the kids, but I do sometimes use the handrails on stairs (trying to avoid that now), breathe the same air, use the same chalk and markers as the teacher does.... Last school year I worked here, I was sick around six times, four of which were in just two months.

I wash my hands as much as possible, but even that's an occupational hazard. French elementary school bathrooms usually don't have liquid soap - they spring only for a big yellow bar of soap on a bar mounted to the wall next to the sink. And paper towels? That's a waste, of course, but don't expect to see an air dryer either. Most schools I work in have a cotton towel hanging on a rack near the bathroom exit. I don't have the courage to touch it.

The kids sneeze in the air, they touch each other and put their pencils and pens in their mouths and then touch their papers, and they're closed in with thirty of their equally dirty peers for six hours a day. It's an environment that's just asking for trouble.

And yet, as I posted a while back, it's obviously my choice to work with them. It's work that's rewarding in other ways, and since I get plenty of time off, I have time to keep working on Bilerico and on other freelance projects I enjoy doing. But it does increase my burden on the health care system, just as other lifestyle choices do.

While we're having big discussions about why some people should be left to die because we shouldn't be forced to subsidize people's bad lifestyles - like fat people, HIV-positive people, and undocumented immigrants - why isn't anyone talking about those people who work in elementary schools? I know teachers are almost universally beloved (except by the fundies), but, trust me, they're just as good of people as everyone else and they're fully capable of being jerks, just like everyone else. Why don't we tell these people that they can't have Thremaflu if they get the swine flu, since their dangerous lifestyle led to their illness?

Anyway, I found NPR's article hilarious, and I hope "the Larry Craig" (my term, not theirs) catches on. Foot tapping is a respectable way to show affection for others, but I'm not even going to let my shoe touch the French elementary school bathroom towel.

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oh that is just too funny...I think they may be on to something..some one tell howie mandel...

"hygiene isn't really a part of their culture"


I am shocked to see this kind of blanket statement made about another people, on a site that is by and for a group of people who have been historically oppressed by just this sort of cynical stereotyping.

They did invent pasteurization. But the issue is that they don't always use it (they say it "kills" dairy products).

Seriously, I don't know how many French people have made fun of me for being a paranoid germophobe for washing my hands after using the toilet. Lots of buildings don't even have a sink in the same room because it's really just not a part of the culture.

And the French hardly qualify as an "historically oppressed" group.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 10, 2009 4:28 PM

And Pasteur invented his process for the benefit of beer not milk anyway.

The unique "culture" of France includes the pissoir which is no more than a public urinal on the street often as small as a closet without sink. What women are supposed to do is beyond me.

Living as they do they are exposed to more germs and therefore develop greater resistance to certain diseases. In the 1340's that did not include adequate protection against the "black death" which was one of our most deadly world pandemics if not the deadliest. These relics of behaviors no longer make sense in an interconnected world if they ever made sense at all. One of the benefits Americans have as a direct result of saving France's bacon during WWII was the American habit of a weekly bath changing to a daily shower brought home to America by our soldiers. French and Italian tourism would benefit from a similar observance.

in french we don't take a shawor every day, my don't wash our hands every times, it's like this, we are mediteraneens people, and it's not so important. so i'm agree with Alex's article, and i'm french.

I think this is one of your best posts ever, Alex. I loved it.

Even if you are a Franceaphobe or something... ;)


I love good snark. :)

*Larry Craig's Alex*

Having lived overseas too (Italy) I think your article is wonderful! My neighbor across the street, Tina, was a pretty well-to-do woman. She lived in a lovely house. But when she came over to my house in the summer --- ooh wee -- what an odor! Water is expensive in Europe. One day I came home and found her with a hose attached to my water tank. She was siphoning water into her own tank from ours! Anyway, I enjoyed your post Alex!