I Washed My Hands. Again.

I sat down to write this, and–after just a few moments–I stopped.

I had to wash my hands.  Again.


A few months ago, I was watching a Billy Collins video when I heard him say one of the truest things I’ve ever heard about writing: “There’s a lot of staring involved.”  When I write, I stare.  A lot. 

In addition to staring, for better or worse, I’m a beard stroker.  The fact that I don’t really have a beard right now (I shaved it three days ago and started growing it back moments after doing so) is beside the point, but I guess it’s more accurate to say I’m a chin stroker.  My own chin, for the record.

Anyway, that’s why I had to wash my hands.  Not because my chin was dirty, but because my hands apparently were.  Still dirty.  They smelled like rats, despite having recently been washed.  You can trust me: whenever I do anything to make my hands smell like rats, I wash them.  

A lot of people don’t know this, but recently thawed rats have a distinct smell, unlike, say, mice or quail.  I handle those a lot, and when I do, my hands rarely hold a smell after I’ve washed them.  “Hold a smell,” as in, “retain it.”  I don’t know if there’s another way for hands to hold a smell, but it’s best to be clear.

Anyway, I washed my hands again, and now I’m ready to write.  Before I sat down, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about—that’s what led to the staring and chin stroking—but I soon found a topic right there at my fingertips.  Literally.


Oh.  Before I sat down to write—even before I washed my hands—I had just gotten home from feeding one of the birds I care for, an American kestrel.  They eat juvenile rats, which, I’m here to tell you, have a odor all their own.

12 thoughts on “I Washed My Hands. Again.”

  1. I love this post. I love the backward way you wrote it – how we don’t get to the rats and their smell and the full picture of why your hands (and thus your beard) had that distinct odor. This was a very enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite my many fond memories of my pet rats, I enjoyed this post. You made me chuckle. And I thought you looked a little different during our video conference, but I couldn’t place it. Now I know.

    I was lucky enough to see an American kestrel during a visiting raptor show. Beautiful birds. Would make great vegetarians? (wink)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, I’ve never had a pet rat, but I’d like to. My wife, however, will probably draw that line (she’s been open to just about everything else, though).

      I love working with the kestrel, and he is indeed a beautiful bird. I’m not positive he’d go with the idea of being a vegetarian, though. 🙂


  3. I love that you found your inspiration so LITERALLY very close to you, as you say – at the tips of your fingertips. And I so appreciated your “hold a smell” thoughts. I love how you make me think differently about things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I heard Billy Collins say that, I laughed out loud and still chuckle when I think about it. My wife says that often when she’s near me while I’m writing; I do stare a lot. Thanks for your comments!


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