I’ve had so many creatures living on or inside me that I could be considered a zoo at this point. Well, okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. As far as I’m aware, I’ve only played host to two types of creatures in my lifetime, which I know shouldn’t be touted as something impressive considering most people go through life without having what is essentially a flea circus in their nether regions.
The first horrific encounter occurred at the age of seven when a colony of pinworms took up residence in my anus. I got them the way most dirty children do: I dug up dirt in the yard, chewed on my dirty fingernails like a goddamn ape, and transported the microscopic eggs that had been underneath my nails to my stomach where they proceeded to hatch and take a road trip down to my butt. At first, my mother didn’t think anything was wrong with me when I complained about the itchiness; it was only after I began to drag my butt across the carpet like a dog that she realized it was worth looking into, so she took a flashlight and inspected the area to see what was going on.
Upon illuminating my butt hole, she discovered the worms shuffling back and forth like my ass was Grand Central Station. How she managed to not instantaneously puke, or run out of the bedroom screaming, I’ll never know. Without delay, she brought me to the doctor’s office, and I was prescribed medicine that would liberate my butt hole from the insect invaders. Thankfully I was too young to really understand just how disturbing the whole affair was; God knows if that situation were to happen to me today I’d take an enema bulb full of kerosene to the ass and torch it. But alas those were simpler times.
The second sit in started like the first, with an unbearable itch. I found myself constantly scratching my “pubic region” at what I thought to be dead skin, or razor bumps from my hackneyed attempts at self-grooming. I scratched, but the itching would not subside, so I took tweezers to the area to pull off the dead skin. I yanked at one dry area and plucked off an almost transparent fleck, and it was then that I discovered that it was not dry skin as I had assumed, but a tiny insect, one who seemed very unhappy to part from my junk. I began to pull off bug after bug in a state of immense panic, and within seconds I was screaming at the top of my lungs and making a frantic dash to my roommate Taylor’s bedroom to both inform and accost him for what I had discovered.
It wasn’t too presumptuous of me to believe Taylor was the one who had given me crabs. He was the “promiscuous one” in the apartment at the time; a walking encyclopedia for STI’s, given his personal experiences with them. My sexual experiences, on the other hand, had been quite limited. I had only ever had sex with my ex boyfriend, and had been abstinent for over three months, so there was absolutely no way I would have gotten them from any sexual encounters on my end.
Taylor was not too thrilled to be accused of such a thing, and quickly informed me that he did not and had not ever had crabs, which meant that I had managed to do the impossible- I got a sexually transmitted infestation without actually doing anything sexually. I was essentially the Virgin Mary of Sexually Transmitted Bullshit. It was only later that we would discover that I most likely got the crabs from a pair of women’s shorts I had stolen from my building’s laundry room. I have no real excuse for having stolen them; I simply thought they were cute and took them, and as a result, God punished me by raining down a plague of pubic lice.
I called my university’s health services office and booked an appointment. Unfortunately, the first available appointment was at 4pm, which meant I would have to walk around campus and participate in class discussions, all while fully knowing I had a colony of critters hanging out on my junk. It was an unsettling thing to think about, mostly because it made me wonder if any of my classmates ever came to class with an unseen STI or funky body thing going on with them. It’s uncomfortable to reflect upon the possibility of the kids in your International Relations class having dick cheese, or a yeast infection, without you ever knowing. Some things are clearly better left unknown.
It is also important to note that I was, and am, a nervous person, and that trips to the doctor’s office only exacerbate my anxiety. I dreaded the idea of going to the doctor’s office and having to explain to them my condition, but what I dreaded even more was the possibility of having to get naked in front of him or her. I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I believe the naked body is not something to celebrate, but hide. So given how uncomfortable I was with the idea of undressing, I decided to try and avoid that scenario by plucking some of the bugs off my junk and placing them in a Ziploc bag. I assumed that if I could provide physical proof that the infestation existed that I wouldn’t need to get naked; the doctor would accept my claim and immediately prescribe me an ointment or cream, and I could get as far away from the doctor’s office as possible.
A heavyset black nurse at health services greeted me. I meekly described to her my infestation, and how I had discovered it, and without thinking presented the Ziploc bag of bugs to her. I’ll never forget her reaction; the smile on her face faded completely, and she looked up at me like I was evil personified. She took the bag from me, and glanced at the bag and the critters inside, and I could tell exactly what she was thinking: “Why the fuck did this white boy just hand me a bag of crabs?” But she didn’t say anything; she simply said, “Those do look like crabs” and then left me to wait for the doctor. The worst part is that I ended up having to get undressed after all, so the whole scarring Ziploc moment was just an additional embarrassing factor.
The doctor was a humorless Asian man who treated me as if I was just yet another dumb college student who was too hipster to use condoms. He inspected the region, and despite my insistence that I had not engaged in any sexual activity, he essentially told me that I was lying because it was not possible to get them any other way. My face felt flushed, and though I could not see my reflection, I could tell it was red from shame; shame I shouldn’t have felt because I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place. I don’t think anyone should be shamed for his or her sexual activity, nor do I think it’s ethical for a doctor to be a judgmental prick, but it wasn’t like I had even done anything sexual! I was a poor victim, not a harlot like the doctor was making me out to be.
I picked up the prescribed ointment at CVS, and called my mother on the walk home. I knew I’d have to tell her what happened before she received a bill from health services.
“Hi, mom. I just wanted to call to let you know you’ll be getting a bill from health services- I had to stop by there today.”
“ Are you okay?” she asked in a concerned tone.
“Yeah, I’m fine” I replied.
I tried to think of some excuse to tell her, so I wouldn’t have to inform her about my situation. She was an understanding lady, but I feared that she’d assume, just like my doctor, that I had gotten it from a sexual encounter and brand me a whore, and to be fair, that is something she would do. I once returned home from college with hickeys on my neck, and she immediately started warning me about the dangers of AIDS, so it’s safe to say she’s a slippery slope type of person, and I simply did not have the time or energy to deal with another one of those types of conversations.
“What is it then?” she asked.
I took a deep breath. Fuck it, I thought.
“I, uh, discovered I had pubic lice, which I think I got from shorts I stole from the laundry room. Don’t ask me why I stole them, I just did. But I got some medicine for them, and yeah, they’ll be gone soon.”
My mom was silent for a moment or so.
“That actually reminds me of something that happened to my friend Laura in college! She slept with a guy on the basketball team, and she got crabs. It was so funny.”
“Yeah mom, that’s what crabs are…they’re pubic lice.”
“Yeah I gotta go though. Thanks for understanding.”
I hung up the phone, and chuckled a bit to myself. I had to laugh to keep from crying and because I knew I really had only two options in this situation: I could be completely embarrassed and ashamed, or I could laugh about my misfortune and add it to the list of potential topics to cover in my inevitable memoir. I decided upon the latter and told nearly all of my friends what had happened, and thankfully everyone found it tragically humorous. I returned home, shaved off all of my body hair, and applied the cream to my nether region, and did not feel even remotely bad about the insect genocide I was carrying out.
I was rid off the fuckers, and free to use this cautionary tale to humor others and dissuade against public theft. God had made his point, I had a new story to write about, and I had both learned a lesson in humility, and how fucking awful some doctors could be. I made a disgusting situation funny, which I think is pretty impressive.
Now if only I could have made my second bout with crabs funny.