The Difference Between Men and Women, a.k.a. The “Lice Epidemic”

  • Kristin van Ogtrop

The scene: home office in my house

The characters: me, my husband

Time: last night, 9:45 p.m.

Husband is lying on floor of home office, “stretching his back,” which I think is 80% watching TV and 20% actual stretching. An hour earlier we returned from taking our 16-year-old middle son back to the camp where he is working as a counselor’s assistant (or CIT, in camp parlance) for the summer; he had come home to spend Saturday night. I walk into the home office and casually mention to my husband that I’m going to get in bed and read.

Husband: “So do you think we should probably change his sheets?”

Me (completely befuddled): “Why?”

Husband: “He said there is a lice epidemic at camp.”

Me: Staring at husband, trying to comprehend. Son was home for 24 hours. Somehow, this never came up. (?!?!?!) “A lice epidemic?”

Husband: “Yes.”

Me: “Did you check him for lice?”

Husband: “No. I assume they did at camp.”

Me: “You don’t know if they did?”

Husband: Beginning to sense gravity of situation, only because he detects the rising rage-panic tone in my voice. “Noooo. Wouldn’t he itch?”

Me: “No. He didn’t last time.”

Husband: Staring at me. A memory begins to form, from somewhere deep in the Beleaguered Wife files. He remembers, dimly, that his son has actually gotten lice at this camp once before. Oh, right. And then Beleaguered Wife had to call the pediatrician and all her relatives and do all that searching online and then spend an entire week’s vacation putting Cetaphil in son’s hair, twice a day. And comb it through with a comb. It took forever, because his son’s hair was once really long. Remember? That’s right: 7 days of vacation, Cetaphil twice a day, by the shores of beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee. While husband was…oh, who knows. Playing tennis. Reading a book. Stretching his back. “Well, I think the camp would have checked. They would tell us.”

Me: “They didn’t last time. He came home with lice last time.”

Husband: Speechless. Really, nothing to say at this point.

Me: “Will you please text him and find out if they checked him for lice?”

Husband: “Ok.”

Me, calling over shoulder as I leave the room: “And I guess you should change the sheets.”

Honestly. Honestly! I am going to put this interaction in the Difference Between Men and Women file; otherwise it would have to go into the Clueless Husband file, which I try not to access too often, for the sake of marital harmony. As I got in bed, I realized that the reason the word LICE did not send my husband immediately into rage-panic action mode was because, the last time our son had lice, I was the only one putting the Cetaphil on twice a day…combing it through…by the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Where we will return in three weeks. But I’ll tell you this: if our son does have lice, I’m going to let my husband handle it this time.