This weekend I went to Emerald City Comic Con.
I have done conventions since going gluten free, and it’s an experience. First, you’re packed into a place with thousands of people, and packed is the correct word here. Second, they’re all eating cheap and fast food (Washington State Convention Center has a Subway actually in the convention space and it’s always got a line) Third, EVERYONE is touching EVERYTHING. You’re going to booths and looking at good. You’re going up and down escalators. And the bathrooms, well they’re always full with long lines to just get to a sink let along a stall, so hand washing is kind of at a minimum. This seems like a perfect storm for getting glutened. And it might be. I mean you’re not sitting in a flour factory and breathing in the gluten, but it could be spread everywhere.
And yet, I don’t get sick at cons. Sure I get the con funk, but that’s exhaustion and dehydration in combination with that many people together, germs get passed around like it’s a fashion trend. But, so far I have been safe from the gluten.
That might be because I’m a bit paranoid.
Okay, I’m going to admit it. I am paranoid. I cannot control where anyone else’s hands go. And the amount of people that are concerned with crumbs is very limited. At work, I wipe down tables in the lunchroom before I sit down to eat. Even then I put down several layers of paper towels just to make sure. When people are passing around food or papers, I’m watching their hands. Did they have any crackers of bread near them? Did they wipe between touching their food and the papers? Are their any crumbs anywhere on this plate of cake? And then, I’m super careful. I might b e overly paranoid about crumbs, but no one else is going to be for me.
See, I can only control where my hands go. As much as I would like to spray people in the face with water, like training a cat to not jump on the counters, I cannot. Sure we’re all washable, but you’re not going to get sick if I don’t wash my hands. I can be ill for 3 days. And so I’m watching their hands, so much more than I did before. It’s kind of an obsession at this point. I’m stating at people’s hands, watching them eat and touch things, and I think no one really understands why.
My hands can, and do, go to the sink before I eat something or touch my mouth. And this is hard because I’m a very expressive person and I talk with my hands a lot. That means hands to face when there’s gasping or thinking and just trying to clear my brain…I touch my face and mouth a lot. And yet, when I suspect that I’ve touched something with gluten…well…
Have you ever had to clean up something really gross, like bodily fluids or picked up after your pet who went somewhere they shouldn’t? You know that “eww…dog germs” feeling you get on your hand afterwards? Like your hand is just crawling with ookies and you can’t touch anything? And you hold it away from you as a reminder not to touch ANYTHING? Yeah, that’s what I do. I even hold it away from my body just to be safe. Yup, I treat gluten and wheat the same way I treat poop. But it keeps me safe. And safe is good. You hear about these poor kids at school getting sick from a neighboring kid that isn’t careful about their sandwich. The same thing happens in most of our shared spaces. I feel like adults can be a careless as a kindergardener sometimes.
And now that I’ve shared my obsessiveness, I guess it’s keeping you safe. I don’t know. Honestly if my paranoia makes someone else just a little bit safer, I’m doing my job. Just call me Super Gluten Free Woman, keeping you safe by stating the obvious.