09/03/2012 09:26 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Of Lice and Men: IV


Week Two: In which an every day single mom juggles her struggles with primal insects and primal urges. This week, more on men in Of Lice and Men.

Of Lice And Men IV

The way some people, upon hearing of a bank robbery or a murder, feel unaccountably guilty -- so I, as soon as Errol was sent home, felt itchy.

Yet, was mine a real or a phantom infestation?

Dear Reader: Here's an experiment. Close your eyes. Now focus on your scalp. To think about your scalp is to become aware of an array of sensations -- tingling or sparkling, darting -- any one of which might be the mark or footprint of a louse. Or not.

I started to scratch. I scratched casually, at first. Then continually, then obsessively, then insanely. Convinced I had them, too, I cancelled everything. I put an X across all our plans. I deleted our days. Errol stayed home, reading, watching and itching. Our isolation and hysteria grew. At some point, I started to itch for real. Our lives became misery, drudgery and laundry cycles.

Yet as a misguided toenail grows inward and thrives, so, Dear Reader, did we. Errol had his books. That spring he read Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain and Prey. And he had the DVR. Some afternoons, he would just sit and itch and watch The Simpsons. He was isolated but not un-entertained.

I had my writing work, a project for a London museum -- and my eye on a guy on the Internet.

His eHarmony picture showed him on a tennis court of green clay, focused on a ball and swinging. I like tennis. I play tennis. He was in shorts. I studied his legs, they were hairy and well-shaped.

After some cyber-winking and whatnot -- the exchange of a few witty, well-polished sentences -- he asked for my number and I gave it. I heard from him almost immediately: the interjection of his voice in my daily life was a small shock. He was keen to meet me only he was about to go away on business. Was I free the following day? I was aghast at the suddenness. I wasn't ready! and said no.

A phone courtship commenced.

"I can tell from your voice that you're intelligent, elegant," he said.

I did not feel intelligent as I stripped beds every morning. I felt more desperate than elegant as I flung my pillow in the dark, convinced it was a lice haven. I did not feel elegant as I sat at my computer rubbing my eyebrows. I imagined lice dangling from my eyelashes, and pouring from my eye sockets and that's not elegant. Still, it was a nice thought. Most diverting.

He called me as he was being driven to the airport and called again from Canada. Business was boring -- detailed presentations and manufacturing challenges. But Banff was beautiful. I would certainly like Banff he said. I should look up Banff on the web he said. It was a pity, he said, that I was not there -- enjoying the spa and massages in the room while he endured dull meetings.

Dear Reader, I had never met the man yet I found myself wishing I was with him in Banff. Was it wrong to long for a break in the battle against lice?