It starts with a little twinge. A small little tickle on the top of your head. You automatically scratch it, with barely a thought. But then it happens again, and you know. YOU KNOW. It’s got to be lice. You replay your day over in your head, panicking and wondering, “Did I hug any kids today?” “Did I bend over when I helped them?” “Did I let my head get too close to theirs?” Did I let my head get lower than theirs?” “Lice jump up, right?” You try to stay calm. Act normal. Carry on. You try not to let the kids see you scratching. You ignore the students’ stares as you try to help Billy draw from across the classroom, with your pencil attached to a 10-foot pole. “What? This is how I always do it.” Geez, kids these days. They don’t pay attention to anything.
As the clock ticks away, you wonder why little Susie hasn’t returned to class. You wonder why the nurse hasn’t called, asking you to start sending students down, two by two. Finally, the students’ teacher shows up, but Susie is still nowhere to be seen. You ponder whether or not it would be professional to inquire about her. Then you silently curse the teacher for not even thinking that head lice might be something you would like to know about. You kick yourself for not getting that haircut you’ve been meaning to get for weeks. With visions of tiny combs and special shampoos, you head home at the end of the day, your scalp tingling with paranoia. Later on in the bathroom you’ll carefully sift through your hair, strand by strand, searching, fearing, but dammit! The sink is in your way and you just can’t quite get close enough to the mirror. As you crawl into bed, your mind boggled with the thoughts of laundry and vacuuming, you wonder if you should visit the nurse yourself the following morning, just in case, and let her pick through your hair with her chopsticks of judgement. As you turn off your light, you can’t help but think, “I bet real professionals don’t have to worry about head lice.”