A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter brought home lice. Actually, she didn’t bring them home, they found them at school and sent her home. She might have brought them from home to school for all I know, but we’ll never find out, because when my wife heard, she, and we, went into full lockdown.
I’m surprised that we didn’t take a flame-thrower to everything (Fire cleanses all…). As it was, we were in a full-on, Karen-Silkwood-inspired nightmare. We cleaned everything, sanitized everything, bleached everything. We cleaned the fucking cleaning supplies with even stronger cleaning supplies. Our house looked like a Stanley Kubrick set at the end of the day. Howard Hughes would’ve found it excessive.
But I get it. Because the whole point of the reaction to lice or any anthropomorphically understandable pests (crabs, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice) is that it is the fault of the host that the pests are around. YOU ARE DIRTY AND A SLATTERN AND YOU DESERVE THE PUNISHMENT NATURE HAS FORCED UPON YOU.
It’s like going to work hungover. You can’t call in sick; you’re the dumb fuck that decided a bottle of wine (or three) after dinner was a fine way to spend a Tuesday evening. Grab a ginger ale and shut the fuck up. If you have head lice, it’s because your head is a foul, furry postule of pest-dom and just desserts are in store.
But skin rashes, aren’t they just as gross? Isn’t it something we associate with Mayella Ewell and trailer parks and Randy Quaid?
I say no, and here’s why:
IMPETIGO is different. It’s bacterial, and who the hell can figure those things out? They’re capricious and fickle. They’re unpredictable. My daughter, suffering from the stomach flu, could vomit right up my nose and I could come through it without a dent in the fender. But one hangnail and a dirty doorknob and I’m fucked.
So as gross as IMPETIGO is, there isn’t a whole lot of panic this time around. Could be it’s because we’ve had kids for eleven years and not much phases us, but I think it has more to do with agency.
This is no reflection on your hygiene or parenting. It’s bad luck.
That said, it’s still gross, and I’ve tried not to touch my kids this week. It’s been surprisingly easy, actually, and perhaps a harbinger of some deeply-rooted lack of physical affection that will fuck them up later, but whatever.
My wife, she of the CDC-level paranoia, a woman who watched Contagion and Outbreak not for the entertainment value but as educational docudramas, actually took a bath with my son today, because it was the only way to make sure he was clean and scrubbed. She has been assured that they are no longer contagious but HOLY SHIT! If I did that I’d end up looking like The English Patient, lying in bed, sores all over my body, my wife feeding me small plums and listening to my boring, lamentably wankerish British bullshit and finally bringing in the last vials of morphine to help me end it all and me being like “Whoa honey this is kind of rash—get it, rash?—because all I have is a skin infection and there’s really no reason for assisted suicide because I’m going to be ok in a couple of days and honey are you crying or laughing?”
Oh well. Things are getting back to normal, if that’s a thing…