20 May 2013
Ticks are creeping around this spring on every blade of grass, every leaf, every cute stray kitten, to the extent that they no longer cause me the fear and revulsion that they ought to. There’s a little tickle on my arm; oh, it must only be a tick. I glance down: yep, it looks like a common dog tick. And I casually grab the little crawling parasite with my fingers, walk to the door, and flick it outside. Too much trouble to kill it, even. Only a few weeks ago I would still exclaim at the sight of a tick on my person, would reflexively snatch it and fling it onto the floor, then spend several minutes on my hands and knees frantically searching for the little beast. If I was lucky to find the tick, I’d burn the critter with my lighter till it popped. It’s an amazing aspect of the human mind that an uncommon horror no longer elicits such horror when the horror becomes commonplace.
The English word ‘tickle’ derives from the word ‘tick’. The Norman French, who had recently taken over England in the 1000’s AD, had learned that gently prodding a tick in its belly with a feather would cause it to squirm and release its jaws from its prey. They called this act ‘tickling’. Eventually the word was inappropriately applied to the act of ‘tickling’ that we know today. This method of feather-induced tick release does work still; I encourage those infested with ticks to try it and see how well it works!
The greatest dread arises from the discovery that a tick is attached to one’s skin, swollen in size and obviously living at the spot for a period of time. A casual itch to my head, the feeling of a wart-like protrusion in the hair, and the sickening realization that this ‘wart’ is in fact a vile, nasty tick that has accompanied me through meals and showers and delightful conversations, nurtured on my blood for days, considering itself very much at home on top of my head. Revolting!
If for some odd reason the tickling method doesn’t work to remove a tick, WebMD advises people to remove a tick with fine-tipped tweezers or they can use their glove-covered fingers or a tissue. They say to grab the tick as close to its head as possible, and gently pull it straight out without twisting. They advise against using alcohol, oil, or soap because the tick could release infectious liquid into the host as the parasite fights to breathe. For those suffering under a Biblical plague of ticks, tick removal tools apparently exist, though I’ve never used such a tool myself.
After recovering from the shock of the loathsome attached tick, I must then wonder if I have contracted some sort of disease from the creature, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease. I wonder: do I feel normal? Are my aches and pains the familiar aches and my usual pains? I must listen to their accustomed creaks, throbbings, and groans to hear if they have changed. And do I feel feverish? Am I too warm or too cold? Could it be the dreaded tick-borne disease? I don’t see the telltale red bulls-eye infection, but who knows? So I get tested and always find out that I was okay all along, and then I promise that next time I won’t waste my time and money with a doctor’s visit for a simple tick bite, but I never follow through on that promise. The paranoia and hypochondria rise to an irresistible urgency.
I suppose that we should be thankful at the relative lack of similar parasites in existence on the Earth. If so many billions of us continue to exist in the world for the next few thousands of years as exist right now, how could creatures not adapt to our great numbers, so filled as we are with nourishing blood, and figure out ways to attach themselves without our awareness? Perhaps they could even figure out how to benefit us in some way, like those ugly pilot fish that swim all over Great White Shark bellies. Perhaps they will remove wrinkles like Botox, or clean our teeth. Their conspicuous presence, living adornments, may even eventually make us more sexually desirable. In that far off time, maybe people will even trade their parasites as a sign of romantic commitment. Fancy restaurants will turn people away for not displaying their proper formal tickware!
I’m glad that I’ll be dead by then.
 Healthwise. “First Aid & Emergencies.” How To Remove A Tick From a Person’s Skin. WebMD, LLC, 14 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 May 2013. http://firstaid.webmd.com/tc/how-to-remove-a-tick-overview
 The Tick Key. “The Tick Key.” Amazon.com. Amazon.com. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.amazon.com/THE-TICK-KEY-The-Tick/dp/B000R1D3KQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369022635&sr=8-1&keywords=B000R1D3KQ