Head Lice are Nice!

I'm Corky the cootie. Pleased to meet'cha!
I’m Corky the cootie. Pleased to eat’cha!

This blog post exists for two reasons.

1. I do not like seagulls.
2. I have a big mouth.

Back in July, the charming Vanessa Chapman wrote a blog post titled “The Thoughtful Seagull,” a persuasive argument imploring her readers to love (or at least respect) Aerial Beach Vermin.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“They are highly intelligent creatures, and learn behaviours to adapt to their environment. In groups they will stamp their feet on the ground to sound like rainfall, which tricks earthworms into coming to the surface.”

I was awed by her scholarship but unpersuaded, so in the comments section, I wrote this:

“You make an excellent and impressive case on behalf of the seagull. But if I ever found a bunch of them stamping on the ground, you would see me kicking at the flock in a wild fury, screaming, ‘Stay down worms! It’s a trick!’ To sum up, I prefer worms to seagulls. Oh, and I prefer most things to worms. So there we are.”

Harsh, I know, but I was soon remorseful. A couple of days later, I made Vanessa a solemn promise:

“Tell you what I’ll do: The next time you blog about the virtues of an animal — any animal at all — I will be pro-that-animal. I will sing its praises! I will condemn those who disagree! I will be that thing’s biggest fan! Try me!”

Vanessa waited seven months to follow up. Then she wrote an impressive ode to head lice.

So I love head lice now. In fact, I love head lice so much, I wrote a poem about them! Enjoy!

For the Love of Louse

On my scalp what do I find?
A little guest! No, I don’t mind!

Please live and breed upon my hair.
I am so glad that you are there.

Please eat your fill. Please bite away.
In case you care, my blood’s Type A.

I pray this time will never end,
My skeevy, parasitic friend.

So, Vanessa, are we good now?

59 Replies to “Head Lice are Nice!”

  1. Haha, Mike, that’s amazing! Of course we’re good, we were never not good! You even managed to make it look cute in the drawing. We can make persuasive arguments about ANYTHING, we should go into politics…

  2. Great poem, made me laugh out loud, but I sure prefer seagulls to head lice (even if the former are inclined to try and steal a chip as I munch on a walk near the shore) – you haven’t read Johnathan Livingston Seagull (Bach) I take it? If you had you couldn’t be against these wise feathery friends:-)

  3. You make head lice seem almost cuddly, Mike. Hold onto that thought for a future book. You forgot to mention that they are very communal creatures… I’m sure they all love their families very much.

  4. My first impression, even after your endorsement was, No Way! Too many years of having to look for the little buggers in every student’s head when we had a breakout at school. But in fairness to Vanessa I did read her post and she makes a pretty good argument for lice.

    In fact, a clever person could make a bundle starting a new fashion trend with louse treatments. I imagine an infested person might also be getting the benefit of a good massage to the head which stimulates hair growth.

  5. Vanessa’s post made me change my tune about head lice. I had no idea they were so…interesting. Your louse portrait is a beauty—you could bring that to a school for Head Lice Day, it would be a big hit! But I think the masterpiece here is really your poem. Truly. Genius, and perfectly metered.

  6. Your poem made me laugh out loud and someone walked into my office as I was laughing. Now it looks like I’m screwing around at work at not working (which is the true but still). So thank you for making me look bad to my coworkers. Haha but I really did enjoy that poem.

  7. We had a case of head lice eons ago when my daughter was in grade school – not nearly as pleasant as you made them out to be. They should hire you for P.R.! xoxoM

  8. One of my greatest personal heroes is Janusz Korczak, a Jewish pediatrician, children’s writer and orphanage director from Poland. He’s famous in Holocaust history because, when the children of his orphanage got deported to the death camp, he chose to join them and die with them even though he didn’t have to. But he had an extraordinary life as well as death.

    He kept a diary in his last days in the Warsaw Ghetto and I quote from one entry:

    If I have the time, I shall write a eulogy to a louse. For our attitude toward this fine insect is unjust and unfitting.
    An embittered Russian peasant once declared, “A louse is not like a man, it will not suck up every last drop of blood.”
    I have written a short tale about sparrows whom I have been feeding for twenty years. I had set for myself the task of exonerating the little thieves. But who will explore the persecution of the louse?
    Who if not I?
    Who will come forward, who will have the courage to come forward in its defense?

    1. Wow. I had never heard of Janusz Korczak, but I’m sure glad to know about him now. What an amazing biography. Are there any children’s books about him that you know of?

      Also his diary entry about lice made me smile.

      Thank you very much for sharing this.

      1. There are a lot of children’s books about Janusz Korczak. There’s also two children’s books by him that are in print in English: King Matt the First and Kaytek the Wizard. Some of his adult books on pedagogy are available in English too. There’s also a wonderful, award-winning biography of him called The King of Children by Betty Lifton. AND there’s a movie about him in Polish, with English subtitles, that’s available streaming on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Korczak/dp/B009BRVKUM/ If you have Amazon Prime you can watch for free. It’s a good film and reasonably historically accurate.

        I wrote an article about Korczak online a few years ago: http://www.executedtoday.com/2011/08/06/1942-janusz-korczak-and-his-orphans/ using Lifton’s biography as a major source.

      2. That was a nice article! Well done!

        After reading your story, I followed the link back to the Charley Project. You are doing some wonderful things for humanity, Meaghan; thank you for that.

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