Dear Annie: I have a somewhat uncomfortable question. Recently, I moved from California to Texas for my job, and I love it here. Though there are a lot of differences between the states, one has stood out to me more than any other: There are no paper toilet seat covers offered in public restrooms. When I first moved, I thought it was simply that I was going to the types of restaurants and businesses that don't offer them. However, I've been asking Texas natives about it, and rarely does anyone here use a toilet seat cover or make one from toilet paper. Some people are hoverers, depending on the state of the toilet, but the majority of people I've polled seem to be fine sitting right on the seat. Is this normal? Are toilet seat covers really a facade? Have I been wasting precious seconds carefully laying down covers and paper all these years?! — Cover, Hover or Quit
Dear Cover, Hover or Quit: In a word, yes. As University of Arizona public health researcher Kelly Reynolds explained in an interview with USA Today earlier this year, bacteria and viruses are tiny and easily able to pass through paper seat covers — an unpleasant thought but not reason to worry. Unless you have an open cut that would be making contact with the seat, the risk of germ transmission from a toilet is incredibly low. So you'd be better off saving the paper and sitting down plainly. If that sounds gross, consider that most cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Now go clean your phone and wash your hands.
Dear Annie: I read a number of letters about how families can't figure out who goes where and when on holidays. I don't understand. Why do families not work together more and compromise? I come from a large family. Once we all started getting married and having to share time with in-laws, my mother said she was not going to try to compete with other families, that if they had to have their event on the day of the holiday, we would just find another day to get together. This worked out so well! No running to do double or even triple duty on holidays or trying to coordinate when to be where. If the in-law wanted Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, fine; we'd get together the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and usually for Christmas, we'd get together on the weekend between Christmas and New Year's. All it takes is communication and dispensing with the notion that one family is more important than the other. It's not the day that's important; it's the time you spend with loved ones that is. — Happier for the Holidays
Dear Happier for the Holidays: I couldn't agree more. May we all go into the new year with such a clear sense of priorities.
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