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Got Crabs?

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Got Crabs?

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Part of my aversion to casual sex (along with the concept that I basically get annoyed with every girl I meet) comes from an acute fear of getting an STD. Like a house guest visiting too long, some of them are impossible to get rid of.

My worst bout with STD fear ever occurred in college after I made out with a girl. By “making out” I mean kissing and sleeping in her bed. As the autumn air rolled in, my skin dried a bit and I developed “an itch” down there.

All it took was a perfectly timed medical lesson to set off my fears. I was talking to my friend Myles and, like most conversations, the word “hemorrhoids” was brought up. I originally thought crabs were another name for hemorrhoids. Finally, Myles educated me:

“Why do you keep saying crabs,” he asked.
“Aren’t crabs another name for hemorrhoids,” I answered.
“No way!”
“Well then what are crabs?”
“Crabs are little bastards that live in your crotch and bite the hell out of you while hanging onto your pubes for dear life.”
Taken right out of a medical journal, apparently. Could this be where my itch was coming from?
“Well are they microscopic,” I asked.
“Hell’s no. They are little lice. Insects, man, insects,” he said.

This was a horrific idea. Infestation was something that scared the hell out of me in a house, let alone my body. Was I infested with insects crawling around in my crotch and biting me and sucking my blood?

“How do you get them on you,” I asked him.
“It’s an STD. You get them from hooking up with a girl,” Myles explained.

I began wondering if the girl I had made out with was the type who could have crabs. Suddenly, I felt like there were insects crawling all over me. I was infested. After my conversation with Myles, my itch seemed to intensify. I would be sitting in class or talking to someone and feel a “bite” in my crotch. My head began to ache as I berated myself for getting into this mess while trying to keep a pleasant mood on the outside.

At this point, every time I went to the bathroom or took a shower, I inspected my crotch. If I saw anything out of the ordinary, I would pluck it out and look at it on my fingertip. Sometimes I would grab little white specks (now that I think about it, pieces of lint) and put them on my fingertip. They would shake back and forth. The pieces of lint would look like they were moving! But was this what I was supposed to be looking for? On to the internet!

On my online journey through the wonderful world of STDs, I saw disturbing pictures of festering sores, infestations, cracks in skin, lesions, and wart clusters. I cringed and hoped I didn’t have any of these either. I went over all of the symptoms (all of which included itching) and thanked the heavens I didn’t have discharge or painful urination. Crabs were definitely what I had: itching and little white specks. Another terrible realization was that crabs would lay football shaped “nits” or eggs along one’s pubic hairs. It’s never good to be something’s egg depository. I began searching for the nits as well.

I mustered up the courage to go to Student Health at the University of Delaware. A little old woman with a Northern European accent inspected me with a popsicle stick looking instrument—well, it was a popsicle stick. She combed through my pubic area with it, much like the school nurse used to search my classes head’s for lice in grade school. Why couldn’t I have just had head lice?

After a ten minute inspection, the lady, sounding like Zsa Zsa Gabor, announced:
“Zare eez nothing zare.”

I couldn’t believe it. There had to be something there. I was 110% sure that there were crabs crawling all over my crotch, laying eggs, replicating, reproducing, setting up a government, staking out colonies, having civil wars, creating currency, making movies and showing them at drive-in theaters where the teenager crabs would make love in convertibles and create (gasp!) nits!

I finally had come to accept the fact I couldn’t get laid whenever I wanted, but now I was the stomping ground for other organisms to get laid on me, or in me.

“Are you sure,” I asked. “What about nits? Any of those?”
“No. Nothing. No neetz” (Nits).

I left the Student Health heartbroken and dismayed. How could she have not seen anything? My itch was all over me. It was expanding, covering my body, mind and spirit like a wool glove.

I did some more research to see if I could do some self treatment. There were two methods available. The archaic method was shaving. I did not want to do this because I would have wanted to shave every hair off my body to eliminate the possibility of leaving one crab couple, like the two that Noah must have loaded onto the arc. Furthermore, shaving would not get them off my bed sheets and clothes, which by now I was sure were infested. The other method was to apply a medicated shampoo to the infected area. This is what I wanted. Chemical cleansing would wipe the slate clean.

All I had to do now was convince that woman at Student Health that I had crabs. Unfortunately, my second visit to her yielded the same results.

“Nothing there.”

And “No neetz” (Nits). I went back a third time, this time at a ghastly hour hoping she would not be on duty so someone else would check me out. She was there again! This time, after “nothing there” “no neetz” (nits), I begged her:
“Can I just have the shampoo?”

At this point she was probably tired of combing through my pubes, so she prescribed the shampoo to me. I skipped out of Student Health with a renewed sense of hope.

I lathered up that shampoo with a cleansing frenzy. Now I knew how those victimized women felt as they cried in the corner of the shower at the turning point in Lifetime movies. Cured!

I felt cured for approximately a week. Eventually, I wondered if I had really killed all of the crabs (lint). Slowly, my itch began to come back, along with depression. I would talk to people, feeling like an STD-ridden social stigma.

I applied the shampoo again after two weeks. As noted in the instructions: sometimes two applications were necessary for extreme cases. Mine was extreme, and although I had yet to find one louse, I sure was itching. After applying the shampoo, I returned to Student Health to be re-examined.

Drats! The Eastern European lady was there to check me again. Didn’t this lady ever have the day off? Once again my diagnosis was the same:
“Nothing there. No neetz” (Nits).

It dawned on me that if I went to the “real” hospital, I would not have to deal with my Eastern European doctor. Although we had formed a bond, (as much of a bond as two people can have when one has combed through the other’s pubic hairs with a popsicle stick), maybe an American hospital would be more accustomed to terrible urban diseases versus this woman from Sweden or Switzerland who probably had only dealt with the common cold in her mother country.

I went to the hospital in Wilmington, DE after another shampoo treatment so that I could tell them I had washed yet again and the crabs were still there. I was brooding now, and visibly depressed to people who walked by. Unfortunately the doctor at the hospital seemed to think there was nothing there either. How could he not see anything? What was causing this itch if there were no crabs there?

The itch continued and I decided to not wash with the shampoo for a while so that when I went back to the “real” hospital, the doctor would at least find one of the crabs I thought I had. The itch was getting worse. After three weeks of the itch with no shampoo, it was time to go back to the doctor. Again, there was nothing there.

I had totaled six medical visits in two months and none of them had yielded crabs. But I had crabs. I just knew I did. There was only one thing to do. I had one more person to turn to: my dad (a physician).

I called my parents and confessed that I had been promiscuous-- which, pathetically, meant that I had smooched and slept in the same bed as one girl in the last two months. I explained how I was itching and itching and how I was sure I had crabs.

Having been a baby and having been seen naked at this time by my parents I had no problem with being checked. They had created me, so they might as well be empowered to check out their work of art once in a while. My dad took a shorter time than any of the other investigators to diagnose me. Final result:
“There is nothing there.”

“What is this,” I said and picked up one of the tiny white specked creatures I often found and studied its movements in the air currents.
“Lint.”
“Well what’s that?” I pointed to a brown blemish on my skin in my crotch area.
“That’s a mole.”
Strangely, after my dad examined me, the itch went away and I stopped worrying that I had crabs. The reality of the entire episode is that I never had anything. My anxiety, once again, made me suffer—and it’s made me fear intimacy to this day.

Well, maybe I just fear intimacy, neetz, or no neetz.
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