Boys! We boys may be grown men, even senior adults, but if you ask the ladies in our lives, some may say that we are still just boys. It has been said that men are just big boys with expensive toys. When I was a boy, the closest thing we had to a toy store in my hometown was Cecil Shirey’s Five-and-Ten. I loved going there, even just to look. As a grownup boy, my toy stores don’t sell toy trucks and cap-guns, they sell musical instruments, sporting goods, or tools.

Boys, of all ages, often act like...well, boys. This often involves getting dirt on ourselves, or at least on our hands. There is an old saying which says, “He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.” This usually implies that someone isn’t afraid of doing manual labor. The other side of that coin says, “Oh, he’s afraid he’ll get his hands dirty.” This usually is not intended as a compliment.

As a kid, I really had no problem with having close encounters, of the worst kind, with dirt. That was partly because I grew up with a pond directly in front of my house, Ivy Creek just past one end, and a large lake on our neighbor’s property. The water was not the problem, but if you add the surrounding dirt and boy to the setting, then you can have a problem. On top of all that, my dad sold coal at his business. I could get dirty before the rooster crowed, or before the water from my morning bath had time to completely dry! I still enjoy getting a little dirt on my hands.

I can still hear Mama calling, “Come on in and wash your hands. Supper is almost ready.” Occasionally, she sent me back for a second hand washing, saying, “You didn’t wash those hands, and you aren’t sitting at the table with nasty hands. Go back and try again, and this time use water...and soap!” Mama is now long gone, but occasionally, Jean says about the same thing to our grandson Drew...and sometimes even me!

In all sincerity, and with all due respect, thank God for mamas and grandmothers, when we were little boys, and wives, when we are big boys, who help us to look clean and presentable. Mama used to always check behind my ears before school and church too. If I didn’t pass inspection, she asked, “Are you trying to grow a crop back there?” I hated what came next. She snatched up the wash cloth and almost scrubbed my ears right off the side of my head. A dog bite one of mine off, but Dr. Gibson stitched it back together. Then, I thought Mama might scrub it and the other one off! Old men would not have those huge ears, if they had had my Mama. I’m convinced my ears are small today, because Mama scrubbed several years of growth off of them!

For as long as I can remember, someone has been telling me to wash my hands. Mama has been long gone, but I feel like she is everywhere. That’s because it seems everyone from Dr. Fauci, to Governor Ivey, to the CDC, to whomever, is telling us to wash our hands. The truth is we all get our hands dirty...more so than we realize. This past year we have become more aware of this fact. I’ve probably used more liquid hand sanitizer this past year than in all my others years combined. Contrary to belief, the Bible doesn’t actually say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” but John Wesley did. It all leaves me with only one thing left to say, “Go wash your hands, please!”


— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit for more information.

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