All this talk of lice makes me itchy.
I got lice back in sixth grade.
That was 1962.
People didn't get lice in nice suburban schools in 1962.
But I did.
I kept telling my mom I was itchy, but since I was a known mosquito feast, no one listened.
(Once we were camping out while traveling, and as we waited for breakfast at a diner my loving family counted over a hundred bites on my arms and shoulders.)
So of course I was itchy.
It kept getting worse and worse, so finally I found a test tube with a top (of course we had test tubes sitting around the house, doesn't everyone), and I caught about a dozen beasties and presented the sample to my mother.
(Who was busy packing to leave on a European vacation alone with my dad the following week — Mad timing skillz, I haz them.)
Having been a pre-DDT child, she recognized the contents immediately.
After all, in the twenties her mother used to greet her at the front door after school with a fine-toothed comb before letting her in the house (all those kids from the wrong side of the tracks…)
So my folks called the school.
The school, with a grand disregard for biology, suggested that, filthy child that I was, it was my fault that I had somehow spontaneously generated lice.
I should stay home until my parents cleaned me up sufficiently to consort with other, decent children again.
Part of this was stupidity: they had never had to cope with the problem before, and just wanted it to disappear.
Shut up the complaint,and the problem is gone, right?
Part of this was that my parents did absolutely nothing in the way of school involvement, so the administrators literally did not know who they were dealing with.
There was a massive PTA status system my parents had ignored,and therefore they had no standing in the parental hierarchy, and, at least theoretically, could therefore be treated rudely.
But it was a stupid move.
My dad, the doctor, made a second phone call.
He sent in his colleagues from the county Health Department.
Even though the school itself had a nurse on staff already, they sent in an outside visiting nurse that same day.
She inspected the entire school, and sent home fully three quarters of the students AND teachers.
She reported directly to the county.
And remained on-site to inspect and okay the returning heads (students and staff).
None of this much helped me in getting along with my hideous sixth-grade teacher.
Nor with getting along with my second oldest sister, who ended up having to fine-tooth comb me in the bath tub repeatedly over the new few days after my parents left.
Looking at it now, I have a fair amount of sympathy for her – she was about 18, and it was icky.
But I wish she hadn't made me feel as if the ickiness was me.
So when Sarah picked up lice – I think from the seats on Amtrak – I tried keeping it low-key.
We took a lice vacation from classes and combed each other with the stereo blasting.
It was almost fun.
You can get rid of lice without any pesticides at all.
You soak your scalp in vegetable oil, wrap it all up tight in a towel for about an hour.
(You are suffocating (you hope), or at least immobilizing, the adult beasties.)
You then shampoo the oil from your hair in a long, hot shower.
As your hair dries, you, or a buddy, flea comb your scalp, paying close attention to getting the entire length of the hair from the scalp out.
Do a small patch of hair each time, sectioning the hair and trying to cover your entire scalp.
If you do with over a piece of paper, you will see if you are getting any lice or nits.
Continue to comb, as often as you can stand it, until you find no nits at all.
(You shouldn't need re-oil the hair, unless you are still finding adults.)
Then you comb about four more times over the next week or so, just in case.
Sarah and I caught the infestation early, and the basic combing only took two days, maybe six or seven comb throughs each.
I did follow up on us both after that, but didn't find anything.
Oh,and launder all the cloth stuff in hot water, and wrap unwashables in plastic and store for a couple of weeks.
I gotta go wash my hair.