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Post details: International Day of Jerks and Germs

International Day of Jerks and Germs

There is a reason why we exercise: our muscles need to be flexed, otherwise they atrophy. No, that doesn't mean they'll win a shiny cup, "atrophy" is just a scary word for becoming very lazy, dysfunctional and eventually non-existent. Lifting weights hardly ever qualifies as fun, unless you are a Rambo or a Rocky, but our bodies need to break some sweat in order to stay on top of their game. When it comes to muscle tissue, it is use it or lose it quite literally.

I think of germs as exercise machines for our immune systems. We have a sophisticated body police, but without having an opportunity to patrol some really tough neighborhoods where they would have the opportunity to fight shady and unseemly microcharacters, its alertness steadily decreases. Eventually, without sufficient stimuli from the outside, the immune system turns on itself and starts fighting phantom menaces, producing a whole range of pesky allergies. Avoiding germs is like trying to defend your country with an army that spends all its training days in bed. Our defense systems atrophy.

I also think that jerks provide similar service to our emotional responses. They keep us on our toes. They help us flex our social muscles. The vexations they inflict on us are like controlled brush fires, making sure our psyche never becomes a blazing inferno later on. Bottled anger has a way of blowing up or decomposing into stinky puddles of grudge, so jerks should be lauded for providing a safety valve for our internal pressure.

Living in an artificially sweetened world of Disney has its pitfalls. People lose the ability to resolve conflicts. The smallest hint of adversity short circuits their minds into a seizure mode and leaves them searching frantically through their playbooks, which - statistically speaking - have a fairly poor record of foreseeing life's little twists. Sometimes you may be able to put a band-aid of forced smile over a disagreement, but only a jerk can teach you how to handle it with aplomb.

Life is not fair - at least not on this planet. We have to choose whether we want to become finicky orchids growing up in a carefully controlled glass house, or hardy plants that can endure any whim of weather. If your only experience with adversity is sobbing in a movie theater after Johnny Depp gets his pinky toe brutally stepped on, you may be slightly underprepared for inclement weather. Viciously spraying your kitchen counter top with industry strength disinfectants and wiping out anything that has a strand of DNA in it won't help your natural defenses either. To some extent, jerks and germs are essential to our well being. They are our sparring partners in the great fight of life.

To recognize the hard work of these unsung heroes I would like to propose that February 2nd be declared the International Day of Jerks and Germs. On this day we'll seal off the area under the kitchen sink as a "demilitarized zone" and when asked how we are doing we'll retort "None of your bloody business, buddy!". That will be our tribute to the critters that keep our immune and emotional emergency response systems fully operational.


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