Published on October 20th, 2015 | by Richard Black


Schrodinger’s Lice

UF_Erwin_Schrodinger_102015A few weeks ago I learned a lot about myself.

I wasn’t happy about it experience. I grew up in the Midwest in the 1980’s where men and boys didn’t go in for self discovery. Instead of talking about our emotions we buried them down deep somewhere in our prostate until it grew and swelled to a point that it could be surgically removed.

Every man, every woman, has his or her limits and two weeks ago I learned mine. It turns out that I am precisely one incompetent contractor, one costly lead remediation, one bat infestation, one pantry moth plague, and two lice outbreaks away from “going out for some cigarettes” and never coming home.

A wiser man that I once said that there are two sorts of people in this world; those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t. Another noted that right now there are, quite literally, many millions of people all around the world.

A third man walked into a bar with a goat under one arm and a Playboy under the other while a fourth man that is myself realized that there are many different ways to categorize people (although the whole Neil Diamand thing is pretty spot on). Some survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with quiet dignity while others stub their toe, scream “fuck it” four or five times and decide to move to a shack in the middle of nowhere Montana. It turns out that I am decidedly in the “fuck it we’re moving to Montana” camp.

My journey in self discovery began, as it does with most men, while I was on the toilet. Given our most recent outbreak of lice my wife Laura had taken to pawing through our daughter’s hair every night in search of the little buggers. Laura was just finishing up the task when I heard her gasp. She beckoned me over and after only a few seconds I spotted what looked suspiciously like a nit. I gave it a pull and out it came in addition to a goodly chunk of Darcy’s hair. Once I had the suspect under a jeweler’s loop my suspicions were confirmed. The damn thing was a nit.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I may have uttered a quiet curse but that was all I had left in me to mark the moment that my last shred of optimism had passed into the great beyond. I thought about drinking myself stupid and spending the next two days in bed. I imagined for just a few minutes, leaving for good and not dealing with the unpleasantness. I didn’t of course. I’m a man of many flaws but leaving my wife and daughter is a thought I can, and will never, seriously entertain. I’m also pretty sure that if I ever did leave Laura would hunt me down and bludgeon me to death with a 2×4 studded with rusty nails.


The road to self discovery begins with a solid bowel movement…Siddhartha

After a small but heated discussion both Laura and I agreed to deal with the project of delousing our daughter and, possibly ourselves, for the next day. Combing through hair in search for lice and their spawn is not a simple process. If you’ve found one then there are more likely tens more tooling around and one can never be really certain that all of the little bastards have been discovered.

During our last outbreak we found a company, LiceBusters, that specializes in eradicating….you guessed it, lice. For a decent fee they delouse the host and even provide a guarantee. It was the best money I’ve ever spent and will, apparently, be spending again. The company however doesn’t operate during the weekends which is unfortunate in that it was Friday evening. Knowing the Herculean task that lay before us Laura and I put Darcy to bed, drew up a plan of attack and then began to drink. Heavily.

For those of you lucky bastards who haven’t dealt with lice I highly encourage you to keep doing whatever it is  you’re doing. I’d also encourage you to send me some tips. Barring ritual murder or vivisecting household pets  I’m pretty much open to suggestions. I was going to write that ridding one’s house and its inhabitants of lice involves the following process but as I hadn’t successfully rid my home of lice a more appropriate statement would be something to the effect of “here is what I did that didn’t rid my house or it’s inhabitants of lice.”

The last time around I placed anything that’s porous (pillow cases, sheets, towels, clothes worn in the past 24 hours,  dogs, cats, ferrets, my great aunt Myrtle) and came into contact with one’s head into a freezer for 24 hours, through the dryer for 80 minutes on high heat or into a plastic bag for 72 hours. Anything too large to be stuffed into those modern day conveniences or tossed into a Hefty bag was thoroughly vacuumed and then prayed over by an old priest who was then prayed over by a young priest.


A typical day on the farm in which I grew up.

The real fun however doesn’t get started until you comb through every member of your household’s hair. Ideally one is supposed to run a tiny little comb from the scalp to the tip of every side of every hair. Even one missed strand holds the potential for another outbreak. It is a daunting task and one I’d encourage you to perform if you’re looking to add stress to your marriage.

I spent Saturday morning combing through Darcy’s thick wavy blond hair and found precisely nothing, nada, zip and zilch. I’m somewhat proficient at many things. I can sleep for almost 16 hours. I can grow a frightening amount of hair in my ears. I’ve also often been told that I can make most people incredibly uncomfortable inside of thirty seconds but that’s about it when it comes to my capabilities. Even in my most optimistic estimation I knew that the odds that I’d found every egg and louse in my daughter’s hair were on par with those of me riding a bicycle on acid while juggling a few dozen chainsaws.

The rest of the weekend was…unpleasant and that was largely my fault. When I wasn’t in bed I found every possible reason to harangue Laura in some misguided belief that she was to blame for finding the nit in our daughter’s hair. To be fair she did find the nit but, to be equally fair, it wasn’t her fault that the nit was in Darcy’s hair in the first place. A more enlightened man may have realized this but, alas I have the EQ of a four year old and was a giant, bitchy, inflamed asshole of a husband for the next few days.

By Sunday night I’d finally calmed down and reconciled myself to the situation. At times I almost laughed and in a moment of extreme hubris I nearly asked God, the fates, karma or whatever powers that be what could possibly happen next. I didn’t. Tempting fate is an activity that only has one of two outcomes, neither of which are satisfactory. Either nothing happens and life continues on or you end up in the middle of a half-assed gut rehab with a lead problem, a bat infestation and a kid with lice.

I’m slow but eventually I catch on.


To my wife Laura. I LOVE YOU BABY!!!

I managed to nab a 10:30 appointment at LiceBusters the following Monday and after forty five minutes of nitpicking (see what I did there?) they found…nothing, not a nit, not an egg, nor even an adult louse. I was told that the egg I discovered was, most likely, just a shell and that the nit has been caught during our last round of delousing. I remain cautiously optimistic and in order to keep the peace in my home have declared that neither Laura nor myself will look for signs of lice in Darcy’s hair when LiceBusters will not be open on the following day. It’s a small thing but in addition to the threat of a fatal bludgeoning I’ve found that playing Schrodinger’s Lice may just keep my marriage intact.

Now please excuse me while I search on eBay for an old priest and a young priest. While I’m at it I’m going to buy my wife a giant bouquet of roses as a way for making amends for my behavior. Of course as a stay at home dad I don’t make an income so I’m really just buying her flowers with her money but it’s really, the very least I can do.

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