Reading about chronic inflammation on some hippy website I learned of the “simple” treatment of earthing. Where you take off your shoes and walk barefoot outside. The free radicals just swarm up and deal with inflammation. That does sound simple.  There is a caveat to the intervention -you can’t walk on asphalt or concrete. It needs to be earth.  There are kids that aren’t allowed to walk barefoot outside anymore. We have paved so much of our living area that walking barefoot has become a treatment.

I learn from VPR that bartenders in chain restaurants and hotels aren’t allowed to tend bar barehanded. They need to be gloved to handle your garnishes. If you are worried about clean food (in the germ sense) It seems like washing the fruit would be the better option. How many hands, truck beds, etc did your citrus touch before it hit the latex fingers of your bartender? And what about latex allergies, are those folks going to be able to enjoy a gin and tonic without fear of anaphylactic shock?

The bartenders interviewed for the radio piece are asked which part about wearing would make their job hardest. The pull quote they chose was: “shaking hands.” The scary dirty fruit takes away the personal touch. There it is again, the push and pull between human connection and safety. I mean some of us don’t regularly shake hands with our bartenders, but some do, and I like that it is part of the job description. As much host as mixologist, particularly in a chain hotel bar where lots of your customers view you as their one connection to the city they sleep in.

Watching the lovely ladies at Breuggers prep our bagels I think about their gloves. They must go through so so many of them. It seems wasteful, and if they don’t waste them it must just be ineffectual. I ask them how they feel about the gloves. They don’t have such strong feelings. Although one told a story of hers melting to her hand on a particularly hot tray of bagels and the other squinted her eyes as if to say “user error.”  They have gotten used to that layer of plastic between themselves and the cream cheese. It is a lower touch job than bartender though. They are neither friend nor host, just efficient prep cooks.

Will our whole world end up like the dentist’s office, where sanitary film is applied to every surface that we touch? Perhaps plastic couch cover will come back in disposable form. Everywhere we go we leave cells and traces of ourselves behind. I understand not wanting to drink little bit of our bartenders, but will it stop there?

A friend tells me the story of her kid’s elementary school classroom. They are no longer allowed to share pencils, markers and glue sticks. Anyone who has dealt with lice knows about and supports hat rules, but pencils? Those kids are germ factories. And they are not simply spread through pencils. There little faces are inches apart as they write on the same paper for math games, their bodies jostle each other in line as they wait after PE for the drinking fountain. They will share germs wether or not they share pencils. Introducing individual pencil cases and supplies when they were once communal seems ineffective and in the middle of a school year, divisive.

Which is ultimately what this is all about. We are afraid of what we can do to each other. From gunshots and carjackings, to getting hurt on our neighbors lawn and suing. From lice, to germs, to stepping barefoot on someone else’s broken glass. There are risks in community life. And there are rewards. As tempting as more gloves, to skin from food, and thicker soles to separate foot from earth is, it gets away from getting us together.

Your kid is more likely to give my kid a bracelet than headlice. Both are possible of course. But since we can’t fully protect against the risks, why not just reap the rewards. Share our pencils, shake our bartenders hand, walk barefoot in the frozen earth.



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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

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