There were germs in the pantry. Germs on the unwrapped rolls of toilet paper and in the crevices between his teeth. Germs on the yellow film of his coffee cup and tucked under the rim of the kitchen counter. He had more important things to tend to, but he couldn’t get his mind off the germs.

Did this make him a hypochondriac? Did it make him ineligible for happiness? Was it too late to say to hell with germs and go barefoot in germ-infested beach sand?

Surely then he would be more attractive. Surely then some woman would lower her eyes and draw circles in the sand with her toe. So much to consider, and all the while his skin crawled with germs.

How to get started. Should he throw out the bleach and ammonia, the Ajax and his scrubbing pads? Stop bathing three times a day and changing his underwear and socks each time? Would this send a signal that he was ready for love?

He ripped off his clothes. He showered and then sank into a tub of hot water and then showered again. He toweled off and got into bed naked, the sheets crisp and smelling of soap. He pulled the top sheet up to his chin and lay still.

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