I’ve never had head lice. In elementary school, around first grade, we had The Big Lice Scare. Someone brought the pests to school, and suddenly the coat room was a hazardous area; every itch was suspect; and I was convinced that it was only a matter of time before I was sent home with a tiny comb and a recommended brand of lice-killing fluid. When it didn’t happen for me, I felt a bit left out, like I was missing some kind of rite of passage.
I feel like getting lice is one of those things that happens to everyone– like getting crapped on by a bird. That hasn’t happened to me either, and I get very, very nervous when there are a lot of fowl around because as much as I want to get it over with, I really don’t want to get crapped on by a bird. I just don’t want to have to deal with it even if it means I’m in the clear forevermore and can share anecdotes about getting crapped on with other people at parties. I covet other peoples’ “I got crapped on by a bird stories” because it’s the perfect blend of pure indignation, and gross. The the person can conclude with a statement that says how he or she was very upset in the moment, but has since learned that you just have to cope with events like these. This makes the teller seem like he or she has “risen above” or conquered something, and other people identify and nod in solidarity.
I’ve spent entirely too much time thinking about this.
When I was a freshman in college, I lived in one of the oldest dorms. We had about six shower stalls for 25 girls which resulted in a ridiculous early morning line of girls trying to get their shower before classtime. Before I got wise and realized that no one in my 8am Bio class would care if my hair was a bit flat, I queued up in the bovine line and patiently waited my turn. The one day I actually did this before getting wise, was the day I stood next to this girl, Rami. She was a giant of a female, with a deep voice, and a slightly dopey expression. She was nice enough, but I had no interest in extending our interaction past smiling and nodding, and I’m sure she thought of me as one of the two girls who ate too much pizza.
Her shower tote was a white basket similar to the one that my roommate had, but when I glanced at it the only thing I could see was a giant bottle of Nix laying unashamedly on the top. Rami has lice? I thought as I’m sure I squirmed slightly away from her. Rami has had lice recently, and it still continuing treatment? Rami keeps something else that she uses in the shower in an old Nix bottle and doesn’t see that that is bound to make people ask questions? Am I finally going to get lice freshman year of college when actually getting lice would be the most ridiculous thing in the world?
I didn’t get lice from standing next to Rami in the shower line, but I did tell everyone who would listen that she carried around Nix, and surreptitiously watched her to see if she spent more time than usual scratching her head.
Now it is fall once again. The weather is turning cold; I’m craving stout beer and fish and chips; and my allergies are acting up. With the allergies comes the itchy eyes, itchy nose, and apparently itchy everything. I have been scratching constantly lately and feel like I’m making people nervous with my twitching and fidgeting. Naturally, the first thing I thought was that I must have lice, but I don’t have lice, I will never have lice. I’m perfectly pleased with that, but will always worry.