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Ask The Vatican Assassin (Wringing My Hands in Birmingham)

Got a problem? Well, your worries are over: We here at Shaking Through World Headquarters have an expert in the field of "problem-solving." When he’s not busy carrying on the noble tradition of the Knights Templar (“God’s Green Berets”) -- snuffing out world leaders, dispatching demons and generally saving the world like a long-haired, street-smart James Bond -- Vatican Assassin spends his free time indulging his every hedonistic whim, which gets him into lots of trouble. Who better to dole out helpful advice to the lovelorn, conflicted and confused?

Posted: September 22, 2003

Vatican Assassin: I like Shaking Through, and you seem like an observant guy, so hopefully you can help to ease my mind. Here's my situation: I'm a germophobe. I hate shaking hands with other guys, I hate using public restrooms, I get violently angry when people cough around me. In the office building where I work, all the offices share one set of bathrooms on each floor. Well, on my floor, the men's bathroom is right across from this insurance agency where a lot of hot girls work. And as you can probably guess, I go to the men's bathroom to wash my hands several times a day. I mean a LOT. And not your typical three-seconds-under-a-trickling-stream, either. I am a VERY thorough washer. It's not uncommon for me to take far longer to make sure my hands are clean than it takes for other guys to come in, do their business, and leave (often WITHOUT washing their hands, I might add). I've actually taken some pretty fierce ribbing from the guys in my office about this, but I don't care about that. The hot girls in the insurance office, however, that's a different story. Do I need to mention that the office has this huge glass partition and you can see inside? Bottom line is, I spend a LOT of time in the bathroom, and I'm worried that the receptionist (whose desk practically faces the men's bathroom) and the other girls will notice this and think that I'm always, you know, taking my time doing Number Two. This is not the case at all. I'm not spending five or ten minutes doing Number Two, I'm just washing my hands.

My question is, is there some kind of subtle way to relay this fact to the receptionist and any other girls who might notice me walking out of the men's room? I mean, I wouldn't want them to associate me with bodily functions, you know? You ever try talking to a girl who looks at you and thinks "Number Two"? How do I let them know that I'm just very clean, and available?

Looking forward to your response,

Wringing My Hands in Birmingham

Okay, let me see if I have this straight: You're an obviously unmedicated germophobe working in a highly populated public building. What's more, your fears make you appear to be antisocial and possibly potentially postal. And now you're worried that the hot girls in another office are afraid you're taking too long in the restroom doing a dump? Lord Almighty, man, you've got BIGGER problems than what the hot insurance girls are thinking! How about what every single person who encounters you thinks? You don't like shaking hands; you get violently angry when people cough around you; you mutter to yourself when someone doesn't wash their hands. Can I ask you a question? Is your manifesto single- or double-spaced?

Man, you are the guy they talk about at the water cooler because they saw the late breaking story on CNN the night before. "Heard about that guy who's locked up in his office with all the hostages? Heard a sniper took him out. One shot to the dome. Never saw it coming." "Yeah, they were saying he was kind of a loner. Never socialized with people...was prone to violent outbursts...Sheesh! What a freak..." You are completely clueless to the big picture, my friend. and until you adjust your ears to improve your horizontal and vertical reception, you're in for a longer, lonelier haul than you realize. You see, it's not women who are thinking you're weird because of your actions; it's everyone.

So you want to know what to do about the receptionist, or any other girl who sees you go into the bathroom for a long time? You want to know how you can let them know that you're just very clean and available? Here's how: Get the medication you need. Period. What you have is a more serious condition than delusion. It's called OCD, and boy, do you need to get serious help. Your germ problem is going to prevent anyone from seeing you as normal; just ask Howard Hughes. How long before you're wearing masks like Jack-O and Kleenex boxes on your feet? Get a grip, man!

(Not to mention: Dude, you think you're worried about germs now, how are you going to react to kissing a girl, let alone when and if you get to Home Plate with her? They call it "swapping spit" for a reason, my friend. Ever thought about how many germs are being transferred during the horizontal mambo?)

You want girls to know the truth about you, that you're a nice, clean guy? Get the help you need. Then approach the receptionist, or whoever, and ask her out. Your actions will show that you're a nice, clean guy, which right now they don't. Right now your actions only foretell how people will eulogize you while the local news films your covered carcass being carted away on a gurney: "He was a quiet guy...kept to himself, really." If you're so worried about other people's perceptions of you, ask yourself if that's the one you want to leave them with.

The real sweet part about all this is that if you bothered to take the blinders off for a moment, you'd see that what you think other people think isn't even close to the truth of what they really do think. Here's a newsflash for you: If I had to guess, I'd say those girls in the insurance office don't give a second thought to your constant bathroom trips, let alone the amount of time you spend in there. However, since you want to call attention to it, I'd guess that they don't think you're in there doing Number 2. Nope, they're looking at you and thinking, "Number 3. He goes into that bathroom and masturbates," and getting grossed out by THAT image, brother. How's THAT for a scary thought, since you're already compounding your paranoia anyway?

How do you spell relief? T-H-O-R-A-Z-I-N-E...

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