I’ve had the symptoms for a while now. I guess it was more denial (and my own personal shame) that kept me from seeing a doctor sooner. But I finally went and although the news was bad, getting a diagnosis feels as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
I don’t know where I got it. If I’d been more careful perhaps none of this would have happened. But what good is speculation now anyways? I move on from here. Acceptance is a major phase when dealing with any illness and I’ve finally accepted mine.
Apparently my entire stomach is infested with body lice. For two entire weeks I’ve been itching my furry belly raw, reassuring myself eventually my weird rash will go away.
For two weeks I’ve scratched my stomach through my work shirts, my t-shirts, my bed linens, in the shower, at the movies, out having a drink, and while riding the subway. The whole time I was content in my denial that the little white flakes caught in my fingernails were dead skin cells and not vermin. Little white skin cells with legs and little beady eyes.
Lousy (lou' ze) adj. 1. Infested with lice.
“Body lice?” Dr. Levine, my nebbish general practitioner, asked me if I had any exposure to anyone with body lice. I quietly answered “No. Not that I’m aware of.”
He then asked if I had any contact with children. I loudly cringed “No! Oh God, absolutely not!”
Nonetheless, he confirmed that I had body lice. He was taken aback (or rather he took a step back) when I suggested that perhaps they weren’t body lice, but instead goose mites that had set up a new world colony on my forested belly, “Because, you see, I play rugby and the field we play on is usually covered in goose feces and discarded feathers from where the geese lay during the day. And I bet the geese had parasitic mites that could have jumped onto me and thus my problem.”
Dr. Levine, without the need for my erudite second opinion, restated “Gayest Neil you have body lice, that’ll be five hundred dollars.”
Following my checkup, during my weekly trim, Enrique, my Latino stylist, tossed in his two pesos.
“Maybe jew have dee crabs, non?” He had just finished trimming my goatee down to a hip, East village moustache. I scratched my belly through the vinyl blouse and replied, “Egads Enrique. Why do you say that?”
“Ah meen come on Meester Gayest Neil. With a moustache so sleazy you haf to haf zee crabs!” He was right. Little giggling Enrique had cut me one hell of a sleazy moustache, but the crabs were so 1997.
I was much younger and living in Washington D.C. Having never experienced our nation’s capital I was determined to go to a gay sex club, fuck the Smithsonian and fuck me! So I found a tawdry gay rag and flipping through the back came across an ad listing an “All Male Party” located not too far from where I was living. Scandal!
I went to the club, if you can call it that. It was someone’s filthy home with battered wood encased televisions in each of the rooms showing amateur porn while a variety of men (with sleazy moustaches) sat around jerking off. One moustache tried to fondle me, but I wouldn’t let it near me. Instead I demurely sat on a stained sofa and proceeded to catch a sleazy case of crabs while masturbating, alone.
If only my present vermin were goose mites creating a suburban sprawl on my stomach, then I’d have one hell of a story. Instead I’m stuck with run of the mill body lice with no porno sofa or diseased goose to show for it. Oh, and I have a nasty head cold.
Finally, at the drug store I emptied my blue basket and Patrice, my salesgirl, caught her breath as she scanned body lice ointment and an economy jug of NyQuil. She glanced at my sleazy moustache as I failed to discretely scratch myself. I caught her smirk as she slid my change to me.
Feeling judged, I resorted to what I do best. I lied. “These are for my dear children thank-you-very-much-madam!” Pouting, my moustache, my head cold, my body lice and me stormed away into the brisk October evening; lousy salesgirl.