Sunday, October 27, 2013

Becoming A Mysophobe

     The older I get, the more I think about becoming a germophobe. It would be a conscious decision on my part because I'm not actually that worried about germs, but I like the idea of pretending to be phobic so I can avoid unnecessary contact.
     First, though, let's put things in context.  According to Wikipedia, a germophobe is more properly called a mysophobe. Their entry:

Mysophobia (Verminophobia) (from Greek - musos, "uncleanness" and phobos, "fear," also called germophobia/germaphobia, a combination of germ and phobia to mean "fear of germs", as well as bacillophobia, bacteriophobia, and spermophobia) is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. Someone who has such a fear is referred to as a mysophobe.

     Okay. Not sure I'd have defined spermophobia as a fear of germs, but I'll let that go. The point is, I don't have a pathological fear of germs. I don't change what I do in life to avoid situations in which I might possibly come into contact with them.  I shake hands with people; I exchange money with cashiers; I use public restrooms. And I trust my body's immune system to handle whatever pathogen I may inadvertently acquire by doing so. 
     But I have also been exposed to co-workers who insisted on showing up to the job when they were clearly contagious. I try to discreetly avoid these people who spread their disease willy-nilly in a misguided attempt to show that they have a good work ethic, but the germs inevitably settle into my nasal passages.
    Hence, the idea of telling people that I'm a mysophobe has some appeal.  I imagine that I could blow off virtually any social event by saying that my mysophobia prevents me from being there. Once people Googled that word, they would, I expect, have sympathy instead of disdain for me.
     Of course, I'd have to remember to bump elbows all the time, so people knew not to offer me a handshake. I'd have to fake being grossed out by paper money and use copious amounts of hand-sanitizer. And I'd have to leave rooms whenever someone coughed.
     In fact, now that I think about it, there are probably too many things I'd have to remember and that would cause anxiety, which is the whole reason I want to avoid social engagements to begin with. Excuse me while I look up what that phobia is called.