Cathy Hamilton: Gift bestows pearls before swine (flu)

This week, my husband gave me a gorgeous strand of pearls for our 30th wedding anniversary. They came in a velvet-lined, black leather box with a fancy clasp, and I cried like a baby when I opened them.

I was touched by his generous gesture, despite our agreement not to exchange gifts after splurging on a 10-day vacation for two last month. I was impressed with how he had researched the traditional 30th anniversary gift exhaustively, becoming somewhat of a pearl expert in the process. And I was moved by the way he beamed after I'd put them on, saying, "They look great on you."

But that's not why I cried.

As much as I loved the necklace, the romantic moment, and the big lug's newfound knowledge of fresh water, Tahitian black and cultured pearls, I wept because what I wanted - what I really wanted - was the Zadro Nano Wand UV Disinfection Scanner.

"Zadro Nano what?" you might ask, gnawing on your whole-grain PopTart.

Allow me to explain:

The ZNWUVDS is a device - an I-kid-you-not, legitimate item currently for sale at Target.com - that magically zaps away E. coli, dust mites, lice, fleas, and kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces.

A veritable holy grail for germaphobes, the wand-like gadget weighs only 1.4 pounds, is small enough to stick in your purse and can be used to disinfect public spaces in hotels, restaurants, restrooms, doctors' waiting rooms, offices, schools, even your own home and personal items. (Think portable bug zapper for microbes!)

Promotional copy, found on the Web, claims the Zadro Nano Wand UV Disinfection Scanner "safely kills 99.99 percent" of the aforementioned icky contaminants "in 10 seconds." And it can be yours for the low, low price of $143.99!

OK, it's expensive. But, I ask you, what price is peace of mind worth if it actually works?

Until last year, I'd never been overly germ-wary. I thought anti-bacterial gels were a waste of money. "Whatever happened to good ol' fashioned soap and water?" I'd ask, stubbornly. I kept the house bare-basics clean and covered my mouth with my elbow when I sneezed. One swipe across the countertops with a damp sponge after dinner was good enough, I'd think.

Then, a family member contracted a flesh-eating strep bacterial infection after routine elective surgery. H1N1 became pandemic. At a doctor's visit last month, I counted five people in the waiting room wearing surgical facemasks. Flu and cold season hit hard, two months early. My daughter, who works in a high school, became an unwitting carrier of the "virus du jour."

To top it off, our new puppy introduced ear mites, giardia parasites and fleas into our home.

Is it any wonder I'm channeling Howard Freakazoid Hughes!?

My daily life has become a series of paranoid hygienic acts. I'll do anything to avoid touching a doorknob. My hand-washing would put Lady Macbeth to shame. I eye sniffling co-workers with disdain, taking the long way around their cubicles, avoiding their glassy eyed gazes. My purse is brimming with anti-bacterial gels, Kleenex and Lysol spray. And the dog? Let's just say she's learning to enjoy a nightly bath.

Life would be so much easier if I had a Zadro Nano Wand UV Disinfection Scanner.

Imagine it! Every morning, I would circulate the newsroom, scanning my germ-infested co-workers with my magic wand, removing all harmful microorganisms from their persons and personal effects.

"Bzzzt! Bzzzzzzt. Bzt, bzzt, bzttt!"

Sure, it might be annoying but - again - what price for peace of mind, and for the whole office, to boot?

Next, I'd disinfect the bathrooms - women's and men's - because my germ-fighting powers would not discriminate.

Heading to lunch? The bug-zapping's on me! Nuke the table, glasses, silverware and the waiter and we're good to go. So what if he ignored the "All employees must wash their hands sign" in the restroom? My UV Disinfection Scanner wand would neutralize all antiseptic indiscretions.

Every night after work, I'd zap the dog. My daughter would get a UV once-over, too. No more sick days in this family, thanks to my trusty ZNWUVDS.

Think of the money we'd save. Flu shot? Who needs it? Doctor visits? What for? That $143.99 price tag is looking better and better.

Still, I'm skeptical a germ-zapping wand, even from Target, can live up to its promise. Until someone I know buys one and tests it conclusively, I'm keeping my pearls.

Thanks, honey. Here's to 30 years! And remember, my birthday's coming up in December.

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