The Sneezing Opossum
It’s summer in Minnesota, which means we now have roughly three weeks to prepare for winter. It’s also the time of blood-sucking little pests, and I’m not just talking about Congressman Rick Nolan and his opponent Stuart Little, or whatever the hell his name is.
Anyway, there’s a reason I don’t go outside, and it’s not just my petrifying fear of human contact or my addiction to Internet porn. Ok, it’s my addiction to Internet porn, but we’re moving on now.
Truth is, ticks love me. I don’t just mean they like sucking my blood like a vampire divorce lawyer. I mean they love in me in the same creepy way Trump loves his own daughter. I’ve taken to issuing them restraining orders, or at least pointing them towards Avril Lavigne’s house.
I don’t know how you kids today deal with ticks. Presumably it involves some kind of app that repels them with Nick Jonas music. Or perhaps you distract yourself with Tinder profiles until the tick drains your blood, leaving you a pale, thin husk that can model for Calvin Klein.
Growing up in the 1970s, however, there was only one way to deal with ticks, and that was open flame. Each of my roughly 96 trillion tick bites required major surgery involving matches, lighters, and the occasional blowtorch. I spent more of the ’70s on fire than Richard Pryor.
Back then, ticks inspired a level of fear that seems unwarranted today. We were more concerned about ticks than about things we really should have been afraid of, like increasing carbon in the atmosphere, mercury in our water, or Senator David Durenburger.
See, you could not just tear the tick off, because its pincer might rip loose and remain lodged in your skin, where it would become infected and then you’d die! To hear my parents tell it, having a tick leg stuck in your flesh was a threat equivalent to getting in a van with a total stranger—or, worse, with Senator David Durenburger.
By contrast, consider that my parents never used seat belts in those days. I was never in a car seat. In fact, I would sit loose in the front seat of our no-airbags Buick and strategically place my hand on the dashboard, so I could counter the 30,000 pounds of force should we ram into a brick wall at 55 miles per hour.
So removing a tick was very serious business. There was a three-step process:
(1) Try to make the tick leave on its own by soaking it in rubbing alcohol for 14 hours. When that doesn’t work, burn the sumbitch.
(2) Wait for it to “pop.” It couldn’t just be dead—it had to explode, or else the surgery was a failure and you might as well throw yourself into traffic.
(3) Remove the tick with sterilized tweezers in a slow, surgical fashion, because everyone who watched Quincy M.D. thought they were Ben fucking Carson.
Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed to conduct this operation myself. Despite their relaxed safety standards, my parents were not sociopaths. If I was going to play with fire, it would be the old-fashioned way: Illegal fireworks and unregulated toy chemistry sets.
So it was particularly uncomfortable when my parents took us to a cabin in the woods, and I returned with the result of my commune with nature: a tick on my prick. See? I told you ticks love me like Trump loves his daughter.
I dropped my swim shorts in front of my father and whipped out my mini-me. (Coincidentally, this is also how Trump greets his daughter.)
“Oh, of course,” my father grumbled as he got out the tweezers. Fortunately, I was spared the fire treatment, though every leg of the critter had to be painstakingly plucked out of my dick flesh like the crabs from Tila Tequila’s muff.
If my penis and brain ever communicate, I wonder what my pecker would say about this childhood trauma. It must be awfully discouraging to have survived this near-death experience, only to be beaten into submission by puberty a few years later.
Regrettably, this was not an isolated incident. After another outdoor vacation, I noticed an itch right around my pubes. This was a tad suspicious, because I didn’t have pubes yet. Plus, I was pretty sure I heard it burp.
Sure enough, it was another tick, one that had gone unnoticed for at least 24 hours, feeding so long on my groin that it looked like a third testicle.
I again called over my father, who, perhaps exasperated at the multitude of surgeries he’d had to perform on me since the infamous dick tick, tore the thing off with one tug and sent me on my groin-bleeding way.
And that was it. No rubbing alcohol, no explosive fiery death, no tweezers. Just grab and pull. It’s the same technique I use today to remove gross parasites from my body, like ticks, leeches, and Senator David Durenburger.
And you know what? I never once had an infection. Well, at least not until that skank in college, but that’s a different story.
Jason Johnson is the author of Here’s Another Damn Book That No One Will Read. Prove him wrong, folks. Prove him wrong.