The Help Desk: Sanitize your books

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to Cienna is disenfecting her Zoom backgrounds this week, so this is a repeat column from 2016.

Dear Cienna,

Every once in a while I’ll visit someone’s house and see that they have a book, or a basket full of books, on the back of their toilet. I guess this is supposed to be hospitable or something, but all I can think about is how poo-encrusted those books must be.

I’m tempted to steal one of the books from a friend’s house during a party, put it under a microscope, and then mail a photograph of the fecal matter particles to my friends anonymously. But that would be too passive-aggressive, even for Seattle.

But it is disgusting, right?

Colin, First Hill

Dear Colin,

Please don’t stop with one book. Also take samples of your host’s toothbrush, decorative soaps, air plants, privacy blinds – everything in the bathroom that isn’t nailed down. And don’t stop with one friend – repeat this process at multiple friends’ homes. Then, in the name of fairness, I need you to stare straight into the brown eye of the beast and fecal test yourself, Colin – hands, neck, lips, fleshy pad of the buttocks. This will add credibility to what those in the unscientific community might call your “pervert games.”

And you’re right: Mailing your findings is passive aggressive ­– and no fun! You want to be present, watching your friends’ faces as they realize how you’ve chosen to amuse yourself while an invited guest in their homes. Here is what you do to deliver those results with style: Host a Halloween party. Dress up as a proctologist. Hand deliver results to your guests, in ascending order of least- to most fecally. To offset the creepiness of your actions, give out full body condoms, DIY fecal testing kits and jars of artisanal bleach as prizes.