Contagious Christmas

DEAR LADY A: I was emboldened by last week’s question and decided to ask a holiday-related question of my own. It doesn’t have anything to do with sex but it is “relationship” because if I ever told her this, my wife would kill me!

So, she and I are spending this Thanksgiving at my mom’s house but when Christmas is here, we’re going over to her mom’s. So, she’s a lovely lady, OK maybe not lovely, but she’s gay-friendly enough and nice enough, but there is a problem. A big bacteria, e coli kind of problem. My mother-in-law isn’t as hygienic as I’d like her to be.

Bluntly said, she doesn’t wash her hands! Like hardly ever. And when she does, it’s nowhere near long enough. Seriously, she zips into the bathroom and zips right back out, way too soon and with far too dry of hands, if you catch my drift. This is the person who’s going to be in charge of Christmas dinner. All of it! She won’t even let us bring a dish, you know something I could at least safely eat. Maybe my wife has built up an immunity over the years, because she’s totally unfazed. But the whole prospect makes my skin crawl and my stomach roil. I can’t tell my partner, she would get so offended for her mother. So I’m thinking of faking sick and not going because I don’t want to actually get sick. It’s the best plan I can think of … but I’m open to suggestions.

— Ribbons, Reindeer and Possibly Rotavirus?

DEAR RIBBONS THE REINDEER: Aw! What an adorable pen name!…When you leave out the part about fecally-transmitted intestinal infection that is. Ahem.

As you may know, I too am a hand washing, cough into my arm, condoms over my dildos, foodborne illness fearing germaphobe — I prefer to call the condition, “sanity,” but whatever. I can relate to your anxiety. However, staying home is probably not a solution. Simply, because you will be asked to attend another one of her family’s functions; a graduation perhaps, or in their case, a raw pork eating contest? And another, and another. If your only solution is absence and you continuously check out on dinner events while keeping Thanksgiving plans and more with your own mom, your relatives-in-law are bound to catch on.

Eventually, there will be a moment when your partner realizes you are avoiding her side of the family. And if your lady is offended at you mentioning her mother’s hand washing habits, just imagine how offended she’d be if she thought that you hated her family. You should go.

As for health advice, I’m no scientologist (That’s a person who deals strictly in empirical scientific evidence and never succumbs to irrational myth-based ideologies, right?…Wait, no? Well, you know what I mean), so I won’t give you any help with medicinal preventative measures. But I can tell you my own laywoman’s tricks to keeping the illness risk — and your mother-in-law’s turkey — down, this Christmas.

  • Make Sure Your Immune System is Happy and Humming: For this next month, be sure to eat your veggies and your lean proteins. Don’t drink so damned much. Eliminate stress (Yes, I know. It’s that easy folks! Just eliminate your stress! Now why didn’t you think of that?) OK, try not to add to it. Have a little fun now and then, get lots of sleep, and would it kill you to get some exercise or try a little yoga? Basically, do everything I’d tell someone to do if they wanted to have more energy for longer, better sex. And hey, at least all that healthiness and conscientiousness won’t feel like a total waste after the dinner has been survived. What with the better sex and all.
  • Charmingly Enforce Handwashing: Or if you cannot be charming, try not to look panicked or psychotic. On the day of the big meal, tell your mom-in-law that you insist on helping in the kitchen and you won’t take “no” for an answer. Just before she sticks her polluted hands into the potatoes, announce, “Oops! We forgot to wash our hands!” Then, with swift ninja skill, pour dishwashing detergent onto her palms before she has time to argue. Dishwashing detergent, by the way, takes longer to rinse off than regular hand soap. Which, in her case, is a very good thing.
  • Shrug It Off: Whether you go to dinner at her family’s house this Christmas, or stay at home like an agoraphobic grinch, you’ll still be exposed to any creepy crawlies your mother-in-law left in the cranberries. Because your wife is coming home to you and will surely bring any family illness with her on her body, clothes and tongue. While that may sound like a pessimistic — and frankly gross — attitude to use as your zen moment inspiration, there is an upside. Sometimes in life, no matter how hard you work to prevent something, it is, in fact, unavoidable. You will get sick every now and then, I guarantee it. You might as well accept that fact. So, go cool as a cucumber, pop your collar like The Fonz and just move on with your life. People often become ill when they’re overly anxious about something, so ironically, it could be your new cool-kitten attitude that keeps you well this holiday.

And if — god forbid! — you do get sick from your mother-in-law’s cooking this Christmas, remember this: You now have a legitimate excuse to take extra days off of work, AND you’re one step closer to obtaining that steely immunity your wife has developed from years at her mother’s evil kitchen laboratory. Just think, Reindeer, by the end of the decade your antibodies will be such that you’re practically superhuman. You will scoff at anyone who cannot eat bar pretzels or slightly mephitic milk. You will be be so majestic and awesome, like some sort of never-sick unicorn. And I will be forced to make you my god. Now, don’t you feel better, already?

What do you think?

About Lady A

Lady A is a relationship and sex columnist for OpusChicago. Her blog is Have a question? Send it to or tweet @dearladya.