Charles is in here... or he should be.

My family is interesting strange totally freaking awesome! We have characters like  Charles and cool sayings like “off like a dirty shirt” and “banging” (not what you think… OK, maybe what you think… Hey, I don’t know what you are thinking right now!)

Charles Poopie Hand was not an actual person in my family’s interesting strange totally freaking awesome life, but Chester was. Chester was a river rat in Parker, AZ. For those of you who live in Parker you might have a mental picture of a current River Rat or neo River Rat. Lose that image. Chester was much more natural than that. He was tall and skinny with shaggy 70s hair that was never clean and never styled; it was epic. There was a beard (of course).  I was 8 when I met him and he was probably around mid 30s. Honestly he was probably the first real hippie I ever met and I wonder if he helped shaped my fascination with the culture. Oh, he was also a horse owner since my father would always go to see him when he was “seeing a man about a horse.” (That’s an entirely different story.)

Chester had this really old tiny trailer tucked away by the river. Back when the Colorado River in Parker, AZ was a bit more wild, restless and overgrown with brush. “Living in a van down by the river!”

Trade the van for a trailer and you have Chester. Chester also stank. You would think that living right on the river would provide Chester with the means to bathe but the river can not help laziness though it does sometimes encourage it. Needless to say, Chester stank!

So one day, my mother tells it, she and my dad were joking around on the floor of the living room when he pinned her down and covered her mouth with his hand. That is when she smelled it.

 She says the smell was so horrible that she screamed to get him off of her and asked, “what the hell is that smell Jimmy?”

 He couldn’t smell it so he took his hands, alternately shoving his hands in her face saying, “this hand, or is it this hand, or maybe this hand.”

To which my mother replied, “that smells like Charles! Charles Poopie Hand!!!”

But there was no Charles, there was only Chester. Apparently my mother was trying to say Chester but was so caught up in the smell that she blurted out Charles instead of Chester.

So since that incident Charles Poopie Hand has lived with our family. On the door knobs, the toilet, the phone and the dishes. He is blamed for our sicknesses. His name is a warning and sometimes a catch-all phrase for something incredibly disgusting.

“How are you doing mom?” “Ugh, Charles Poopie Hand.”

“Don’t eat that! Charles Poopie Hand!”

“OMG, that was totally Charles Poopie Hand.”

Now I work in public health and hand washing is one of our biggest messages. Maybe the biggest message. Yes, let’s go with that. Hand Washing is the biggest (most important) public health message. Charles Poopie Hand travels with me to work as a constant reminder to wash my hands. He is also a reminder about how easily illnesses can spread when you don’t wash your hands. It’s called the fecal-oral route and yes, it means that if you don’t wash your hands after you poop you risk eating whatever is on your poopie hands. It’s the main way diseases like Hepatitis AShigellosis and Cryptosporidium spread. Crypto may be my favorite public health word ever by the way. Just thought I should let you know.  I would also like to use Charles as a public health spokesperson but everyone wants zombies right now. Ugh, zombies are so last spring.

So there you have it, you have been introduced my interesting strange totally awesome family and to Charles Poopie Hand… just don’t shake his hand.