16 January 2007

Talkin' 'Bout My S-S-Salutation: Elbow Health

Everyone knows not to cut corners when it comes to their health. Cutting, of corners or otherwise, should be left to fully trained and properly equipped medical professionals. But there are things we all can do to make our world a healthier place.

According to the World Health Organization, or The WHO, many diseases— avian flu, for one— can be spread via everyday hand-to-hand and other interpersonal contact. That means no handshakes, no hugs, and certainly no kisses. But if you're afraid all your cultural training will bcome useless in greeting international travelers, don't; The WHO has the answer: the elbow bump. (Use BugMeNot to get past the New York Times login).

It has been nearly a year since I've heard much of anything about the elbow bump. Although I don't recall the first time I heard of it (it may have been junior high gym class just after the electric slide), I'm convinced that I don't hear about the elbow bump nearly enough. It is, after all, the wave of the future in more than a merely figurative sense.

Hands and faces are too dirty to be used for greeting in a civilized, scientifically-minded society. Can you even name all the places your hands have been today? If you don't know where they've been, I certainly don't, and I certainly don't want to touch them. So next time you see me or anyone you care about, protect them from avian flu and other diseases you're carrying around with a friendly elbow bump.

The WHO also suggests that coughing or sneezing into the crook of one's elbow is far more sanitary than projecting pathogens into one's hands. Certainly The WHO would never suggest the institution of a contrived social gesture using the same body part they suggest for the entrapment of billions (that's billions, with a 'b') of potentially deadly pathogens. Elbows must be not only the cleanest part of the human body, but to some degree antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, hypoallergenic, and spring clean fresh. Rubbing elbows isn't just for the rich and famous anymore!

I expect that elbows will play a greater role in our personal hygeine and interpersonal preventation of disease in the future. They could be used, after sufficient dexterity exercises, to transfer cash during financial transactions. Perhaps ordinary household sponges, supplied with literal elbow grease, will help us keep a clean and sanitary house— the house of the future. Finally, I suggest the use of elbows as alternatives to cotton swabs for the prevention of ear infections. Good health to you!

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