At some point while restocking the home supplies, I realized I was preparing for the next pandemic.
When flour was in short supply, I bought it whenever it showed up, feeling like someone in the Gulag who had found a frozen herring and brought it back to the barracks for a feast. (Without, of course, the whole “gulag” thing.)
We didn’t need to bake bread, because we had bread, but that bread would run out, and then we’d have to use the bread in the freezer. Worst case scenario: Civilization collapses, but we’ll have French toast.
Then the excess flour was a problem. We could make pointless quarantine bread, but that’s so April. So it had to be stored lest weevils appear, and I figured I’m set for the next pointless spasm of panic, bread-wise.
Toilet paper is back — in fact, it’s passe to say “toilet paper is back.” It’s so nice to be jaded about toilet paper again. I found a strange brand the other day called “Irresistible.” I didn’t by it. We have 62 rolls at home. If that runs out, we’ll use bread.
The freezer has lots of ground beef from the great Meat Scare. Remember that merry fortnight?
All the processing plants were going to close, and all the cows and pigs were going to be driven into the river. When I found meat, I’d announce it to the family: “Look what I got!”
“Great! Are we having hamburgers?”
“What, are you nuts? It’s going in the freezer.”
What’s missing from this recitation of items once gone but now back in abundance? Correct. Hand sanitizer. You’d better believe I’ve put away a few gallons of that stuff, because I remember when it was like holy water during a vampire invasion. You touched something, you squirted some hand sanitizer.
We almost ran out in early April, and I wondered if we’d have to carry around a pail of cheap whiskey for digit-dunking.
Now it’s back and it’s everywhere, in brands I’ve never heard of. Let’s rate them!
1. Germ-X. Kills 99.99% of germs! OK, but what about those 0.01%? How many is that? How many germs are there? Or do they mean “of the germs that infest your disgusting, crawling epidermis, this will get rid of 99.99% of them”?
I want a 100% dead-germ situation. This is no time to slacken!
On the ingredients label I noted “Fragrance,” so I gave it a squirt and a sniff. It smells like a hospital. This means either they have managed to reproduce Hospital Scent or this is a scent that hospitals add to their ventilation systems to make you feel as if you’re someplace where they can fix what ails you. “Hey, this can’t be a medical center, it smells wrong.”
Verdict: It’ll do.
2. Germ-X Advanced Antibacterial. It is 62% ethyl alcohol, but it kills only 99.9% of germs, suggesting it’s powerless in the face of a whopping 0.1% of the germs. It does, however, have Refreshing Aloe. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rubbed astringent murder-juice over my hands and wished the experience could leave me feeling more refreshed.
Verdict: It’ll do.
3. Purell. Actually, I haven’t seen any of this since this whole thing began. We refer to hand sanitizer generically as “Purell,” but that doesn’t mean we use the stuff. It’s like people got mad at it for being in short supply, and they just quit in a huff.
Verdict: Come back, all is forgiven.
4. Hand in Hand brand. It simply says “Kills Most Germs,” which could mean 50.01%, but then it would say “Kills a Plurality of Germs.” It has a rather pointedly citrus scent, more a spa than a hospital. A Spaspital, if you wish.
Note: “Hand in Hand” is vegan, in case you were intending to use it as a grilling glaze for eggplants. It’s also “cruelty free,” but they obviously didn’t poll the germs on that one. Verdict: best aroma
One thing about the hand sanitizer shortage was that, ounce-for-ounce, it cost more than hummingbird tears. To this day we don’t know what the stuff should cost, do we? A trip to the grocery store finds many options — Be Safe brand, 6.8 ounces, $4.99. GermAway brand, 8 ounces, $5.99. I guess some people think, “The pandemic’s burning out, so there’s no way I’ll need that extra 1.2 ounces. I’ll save a buck.”
I just wish someone would come up with wrist-mounted tanks like Spider-Man’s webshooters, and you could just tap your palm with your middle finger and dispense a dose. But we probably won’t need that.
(Flash forward a year. The MyPillow guy is advertising his new sanitizer-squirter, and it’s made in America! Also, they’re sold out.)