Saturday, November 11, 2006

I Didn't Want To Tell You

I once went on one of the mercifully few camping trips in my life in the tenth grade -- it was a two-day field trip for my advanced biology class. The trip itself had taken many happy turns -- the boys had smuggled Everclear in empty High Karate bottles, I was asked to tell ghost stories late in the evening, everyone was making jokes for most of the ride there. During the course of the second day, a tick attached itself to my neck. Like most hideous blood-sucking creatures, I had no idea that it was there and went around acting normal until I looked in my compact and saw its swollen black body. How long has it been on me?, I asked Scott, a boy who had huge burn scars all along his forearms from being plunged into a way too hot bathtub as a toddler. A long time, he said. I didn't want to tell you because I liked seeing something ugly on you. Despite his grisly scars, he'd gained entry into the popular crowd, something I had about as much chance of doing as making it on Broadway. I doused myself with rubbing alcohol, and the tick released itself. You can't pull them off because the head will stay embedded, causing an infection. You can also light a match, blow it out, and put the heated tip to the tick's body.

The other day I had my students write about jealousy and envy, those unseemly emotions that bite us in the ass and make us crazy. Sometimes it takes a while for the students to start -- say, when I say things like, Amputation -- go anywhere you like with this idea! But with jealousy, my little darlings got right to it and wrote with ceasing for the entire time. Almost nobody, however, wanted to read out loud. Most of the time lots of students want to share, but not with this shame-laced emotion that we're taught not to acknowledge. I'm not a jealous person, we'll say, but . . . I would like to stab that person in the eyes, repeatedly. Of course, I would feel bad about it, but not that bad. I hadn't thought about Scott in years, but I remembered his casual cruelty which had given him a certain cache in high school. He'd taunt the boy in our class who had no forearms, only stubs that stopped where an elbow should have been. And how he hid his own arms in long-sleeve shirts even in the hottest weather. As for my own jealousy and pettiness, if only it were as easy as removing a tick from my otherwise unblemished neck instead of like Scott's scars that would always be there, whethter they were hidden or not.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Me? Jealous? A little -- like Medea." Woody Allen

Cocktail Hour

Drinking book suggestion: Alice K's Guide To Life by Caroline Knapp -- very sharp, dark humor about a single woman in her thirties -- Sex in the City, without much sex, too many drinks, and lots of financial issues, which is to say a lot more like reality.

Benedictions and Maledictions

My cousin Jay has a great website/blog at Check it out! Happy Veteran's Day to all!


JR's Thumbprints said...

One time I contracted scabies from an inmate. Nothing like having parasitic mites burrowing under your skin and laying eggs. Had to wash every thing in sight and get deloused too. As for the jealousy prompt, I believe Eric was filling in for you on the day I wrote about it. I think I read mine too.

Greek geek said...

More than 2500 years later, the theme of "Medea" is still going strong: infidelity has its consequences.

thankful one said...


Sheila said...

I went on a vacation with my friend to Maine in a camper. We stopped in many states and when we were on the campground in Maine we were in the showers and I was trying to shave but silly me started to fall and the razor took a nice chunk of my skin with it. Eventually the bleeding did stop... several towels later. I don't think I ever saw my friends mother so pale in her life. Got a wicked scare on my leg too!

paul said...

Mighty Isis Cajun Queen
ticks give me the willies, never camping outside again that Scott whats there to say about him nothing nice. FishnetsFoxy
R2 C2 Shazammmmmmmm

Laura said...

I can't believe that guy didn't tell you about the tick on your neck. That is so mean. But like I say, What goes around, comes around. He'll get his in the end.

Do you have a tissue said...

Hey Michelle,
I haven't seen you since Taos this summer, but i've been reading your blog for the past while and really enjoying it. It's wonderful.
Today's story reminds me of my high school best friend and how once at Dairy Queen, after hanging out for an hour and having a grand time, I stood up and saw in the wall-mirror that I had a large goopy booger on the end of my nose. Unusually gross. "Oh my God, why didn't you tell me?" I asked as I wiped with a napkin. And she said, "I was just enjoying you not being perfect for a while."
She later betrayed me because she liked a boy.
Boogers & ticks.

May you be free of both.