Lice



Every parent dreads the yellow note in fancy writing that delivers the news that ‘we have found out that one of the students in your child’s class has lice.’ This is a warning of whats to come. And since I am immune to nothing, my eighth grade experience was nothing short of a terror.

Nobody has thicker hair than me. It’s a freak-of-nature thing that somehow comes with the package of having curly hair, lots of frizz, and an out-of-the-ordinary shade of red. Sure enough, my mother was called within the first week of this notification and the school nurse was sending me home to be treated. Mom was mad. Lice isn’t something we take lightly in my household…never have and never will. Laundry commences, combing through my hair aisle by aisle, and shampooing with stuff that smelled expired is the way we treated lice, until this round. First to go? My gorgeous locks. Well, nobody has gorgeous locks in the eighth grade because we’re all trying to figure out how to manage our own do’…and this was well before the time of the straightener. Regardless, I was very upset with my new ‘bob.’

My new ‘bob’ soon became a source of ridicule. Not only was it an interesting haircut for someone with crazy hair, but it was also shorter than my hairline in the back by at least two inches…yielding me ‘a rat tail.’ Middle school is cruel and awkward, and this was the second of the faultiest haircuts I’ve ever been given in middle school (the first was just in time for my entrance into sixth grade with a ‘Mrs. Brady’ hairstyle…aka mullet…that I tried desperately to hide with a bucket hat…that later was confiscated by the public school system…that meant I had ‘mullet hat-hair’ on my first day in a new school). My mom decided to ‘fix it’ by razoring it off, which looked both natural and not weird in the least as it started to grow in.

Months of this ‘lice epidemic’ continue at the school. We’d bought every product off of the shelf. Every last one. We were desperate and began looking into alternative options.

I will never eat mayonnaise again. No mayonnaise-based products…no fettucini, no ranch, no ceasar, no cream-based sauces if possible. I had to sleep with saran around my head, with my hair encased in mayonnaise throughout the duration of a whole night. This was apparently an ‘at-home’ remedy we read about. I remember waking up with mayo smeared across my cheek–now hot and disgusting. I don’t even want to talk about the shampooing process after wards.

Kerosene oil: a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons obtained by distilling petroleum, bituminous shale, or the like, and widely used as a fuel, cleaning solvent, etc. It was night and I had to lie backwards on a reclining patio chair. My mom poured it over my hair. I commented that it smelled funny and kind of burned. My dad came out and saw what was going on. He didn’t want to be in the way of the madness, but advised that I steer clear of the oven/fireplace after wards.

Frontline. Yes, the dog flea kit. In the eighth grade, I was deemed an ‘eighty five pound’ dog in order to secure the strongest kit the vets had available over the counter.

The Wig Shop. I was sitting in a barber chair in front of very glamorously-lit mirrors and surrounded by hundreds of heads of hair. I contemplated the ending of this (now) six month lice affair by shaving my own hair off. I wondered what it would be like to be a blonde, to not have to straighten my hair anymore. This hair appointment was sort of incognito–it wasn’t wise to go into a wig store and announce you had lice. So when they asked when I would be losing my hair, my mother replied with ‘soon.’

The whole thing ended soon after that–with us finally discovering that I had never (not once) in that period of time, actually had lice. The overuse of lice-killing products has the ability to mimic actual nits in one’s hair…weird and unbelievable. So we stopped everything and nothing happened…it was gone.

I’m not sure what I will do if I ever get lice again, but I won’t tell my mother:)

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