My good friend and high school classmate, Bobby Pitman of Lubbock sent me an email several years ago that really tells the story of several things that we should no longer do or should remember.

I have no idea who put the email together, but it was probably someone who had nothing else to do and went a little stir crazy watching all those medicine advertisements on television telling us the side effects the medicines (expensive ones) that they are advertising, telling us we should talk to our doctor about and have then prescribed for us when we have symptoms.

I’m taking the privilege of rewriting the article and using the information in ways it has tongue in cheek affected me and others that I’ve talked to.

First of all, I will need to take a paper towel with me when I go into a public bathroom because there are germs on the door handle, inside and out. I think about not having a paper towel now every time I go into a public bathroom, but I’ve never seen anyone actually use a towel on the door handle.

I like lemon slices in my ice water or iced tea, but since I read the email I think about all the bacteria on the lemon peel. I doubt that the lemons have been scrubbed before slicing.

The article told me that I could not use the remote in a hotel or motel room when I travel anymore because I don’t know what the last person was doing while flipping through the movie channels. Come to think of it, I heard this “don’t” long ago and my traveling companion on a trip laughed at me when I pulled out my disinfecting wipes and wiped down the room.

I cannot sit down on the bedspread in a hotel or motel anymore because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed. I have a funny story about this “don’t”. A number of years ago when I attended a National Federation of Press Women Conference in Washington, D.C., I thought it would be fun for my two high school age granddaughters to go with me and see the sights of D.C.

When we arrived in our hotel room, one of the girls flopped down on the bed. The other screamed so loudly that I nearly jumped out of my skin, thinking a big bug or something worse had appeared. She yelled at her cousin to get off that bedspread saying, “Someone may have had sex on it.” After that I always did what the girls did, carefully removed the bedspread, folded it and put it away for the remainder of the visit.

A “don’t” that I hadn’t thought of is shaking hands with someone who has been driving. The author of this piece said that the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one’s nose.

We hear so much about calories, cholesterol, triglycerides, trans-fats and whatever that we go on a guilt trip every time we eat a little snack. We can just imagine how many gallons of trans-fats we are consuming when we do.

I’m afraid to set my purse on the floor for fear of all the germs placed there by people who have walked through a rest room or heaven only knows where and what. We’re told not to hang our purses on the back of our chair making it easy for a thief to take it so I guess we are supposed to just sit and hold it. Nonetheless, I still set my purse on the floor or the back of my chair and take a chance.

I now scrub the top of every can I open because I don’t know where it has been stored. All those little mice may have been scampering over the cartons.

I’m told that no longer should I use cancer-causing deodorants even though I may really need them on hot days. I began hearing this myth when I was a teenager and a good friend’s parent wouldn’t allow her to use deodorant for that reason, and she really needed one.

The internet is another place we spend our time when we are feeling bad and there are a lot of lessons to be learned there too.

I’ve learned that if I forward certain emails to nine of my friends and make a wish within five minutes it will come true and my prayers will be answered. If you believe that one I’d like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’ve been told not to drink a favorite soda pop because it can remove all kinds of stains. And I no longer eat a certain kind of chicken because it is said the birds are actually horrible mutants. I’ve been told not to drink some other soda pops since the people who make them are atheists who refuse to put “Under God” on their cans.

I’ve learned to take someone with me when I buy gasoline to watch the car so a serial killer won’t crawl in my back seat while I’m pumping gas. I’ve also learned to remove my purse and lock my car so someone won’t enter the car on the passenger side while I’m pumping gas and steal it. I’ll have to admit I think about these two don’ts, but I do it anyway.

I’ve been told not to shop at certain stores because they don’t support our American troops. I must be vigilant when I answer the telephone because someone might ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to the Philippines, Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and who knows where.

I think twice before I pick up a $5 bill in the parking lot of the grocery store because it might be a trick and a sex predator might be waiting to grab my leg.

I know you will take some of this advice with a grain of salt.

The most important “don’t” is do not believe that I am on vacation in some small place overseas and have been arrested and need $10,000 to get out of jail. I am right here at home. Many people have believed these emergency phone calls, but they seldom are true.

I’m sure many readers can add to the list talked about here today as well as some learned on television or from messages sent by well-meaning friends on the internet.

And Bill Gates isn’t giving away free computers for forwarding emails either.

Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her column. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.