This week has seen a challenge to our family that would strike fear into even the most follicly challenged individual: the advent of head lice. Just the mention of those tiny, almost imperceptible, creatures will, I guarantee, have you clawing at your scalp for hours, even if you haven’t been within a country’s breath of an infant in the last decade.
The effect is rather like that of the yawning man in the film Tom Thumb: no matter how prepared you are for his appearance, you cannot fail to reflect his yawn the second he opens his mouth to greedily grasp the air. (That is unless you’re a psychopath – according to Luther, anyway – who doesn’t mirror emotions. But I won’t get into that now; maybe another post.) Even as I type this I can’t stop yawning, so ingrained is his image in my psyche, and it’s well over forty years since I last saw the film. It just goes to show the power of the imagination.
Well the prospect of nits has the same impact. The perceived infestation deludes the recipient into believing that a whole army of bugs high on ‘Es’, and armed with whistles, are jumping frantically about their head, ready to elope to a passer-by and a different party, should the opportunity arise. These interlopers invade a head with all the zeal of a Tory MP given free rein to claim expenses for a third property; they are relentless. Now, not only am I yawning, but scratching, too.
Finding one for the first time, attached to a strand of hair, engenders the same degree of panic as opening your wardrobe door to discover a Bengal tiger has taken up residence amongst your shoes. Every attempt to eradicate them from the face of the earth is duly seized upon, ranging from lotions to sprays and foams to powder. But even with enough chemicals to permanently alter the earth’s fragile ecological equilibrium, they refuse to die. It’s only after the introduction of the fine-toothed comb – the parasitic equivalent of an atomic bomb – that any progress is made, but several attacks are necessary in order to quell the invasion and that doesn’t totally annihilate the possibility of further insurgent uprisings.
It does teach you though how to return a hug to your grandson whilst, at the same time, keeping enough distance between heads that the bugs would need a super sonic jet liner to get from one to another; and all achieved without the youngster being aware of the new stretching activities you have currently adopted, that would allow you to wear fifty Amazonian neck rings with ease.
For now, the battle is over. It’s too early to say whether the war is won.
Image credit: yencha / 123RF Stock Photo