Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's Not Easy To Be a Manly Man

Have you ever wondered what happens to a manly mystery writer when he discovers he has a deer tick stuck firmly to his butt and his girlfriend is going to be away in New York City for the next three days? Funny you should ask.

It's now peak deer tick season here in Old Lyme -- which, as you may know, happens to be ground zero for Lyme Disease.  Paradise has its price, sad to say.  If you spend any time outside, gardening or hiking or whatever, you're bound to find one or more of the nasty little buggers has taken hold somewhere on your body and has to be removed with a pair of tweezers.  The odds are in your favor.  Only a small percentage of the ticks carry the Lyme virus.  And the tick has to be on you for at least 24 hours.  But you want that tick off of you.  Now.  Period.

Which brings me to my dilemma of the other night.  I was drying off after my shower when I found one in, well, one of those hard to reach places.   Twenty years ago I would have called it my extreme upper rear thigh.  Now I would have to say it qualifies as my butt.  It's a gray area.  A gray, fleshy area.  Ordinarily, I would have asked Diana to take it out for me.  We've done this rather intimate favor for each other many times.  In fact, in Old Lyme it's what passes for foreplay.  Unfortunately, Diana was in the City and wasn't going to be back until long after those critical first 24 hours had passed.

So it was up to me to remove it myself -- even if I couldn't exactly reach it or see it.  Not a problem.  Men are taught from an early age to be totally self-sufficient.  If you have to rely on anyone else for anything -- anything -- then you're not a man.  This is why guys don't like to ask for directions when we get lost.  I got out the rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball.  Doused the tick.  Hiked my foot onto the edge of the bathroom sink.  Lined the little bugger up in my sights courtesy of a pocket mirror, grabbed hold with the tweezers broke off.  Half of it came away.  The other half stayed in.

This is bad.  This is very bad.  The only thing worse than leaving a tick in, is leaving the remnants of a tick in.  Then the bite can become infected.

Still, I was positive I could deal with it myself.  I just needed a better, closer look, that's all.  I took the tweezers, pocket mirror and a magnifying glass over to the bed and curled up on my back with my legs up in the air.  In yoga we call this snail pose.  And, yes, I did close the curtains next to the bed.  By carefully positioning the mirror and the magnifying glass just so, I was able to see the remaining tick bits quite well.  Now all I had to do was coax them out with the tweezers.  The problem was that this delicate operation required three hands and I only have two.  I did ask Freddie to hold the magnifying glass in his mouth for me but, well, Freddie doesn't do the Timmy's In Trouble thing.  Freddie's a cat.

And I'm a guy.  And it's at times like these that it's not easy to be a guy.  A woman? A woman would have no problem asking one of her woman friends or neighbors to remove the tick for her.  And they would have no problem complying.  But women are different from men.  Women try on each other's shoes.  Women share their food.  Guys don't do those things.  They especially don't ask another guy for help that in any way, shape or form hints at intimacy.

I mean, hell, I can still remember one of the first dirty jokes I ever heard in my life.  I heard this the first time I went away to summer camp.  Two guys are off in the woods on a camping trip and one of them is asleep in his sleeping bag when he gets bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of his pecker.  "Oh, my God!" he cries out.  "I've been bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of my pecker! What do I do?"  "Not to worry," his friend says. "I'll run to the ranger station three miles away and ask him what to do." So the friend runs to the ranger station and bursts in the door, gasping, and says, "Sir, my friend has been bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of his pecker! What do I do?" And the ranger says, "Here's what you do.  You take this here razor blade with you.  You slash an X in the tip of his pecker with the blade, then you get down on your hands and knees and you suck out every bit of that venom yourself.  It's the only chance your friend has." So the friend takes the razor blade, thanks the ranger and rushes back to the camp site.  "What did the ranger say?" the snakebite victim wants to know.  And the friend replies, "He said you're going to die."

Translation: I couldn't ask any of my male friends or neighbors for help. I couldn't phone up George, Bill, Milt, Dave or anyone else and say, "I have a tick in my butt! Will you take it out for me?" Flummoxed, I called Diana in New York and said, "I have a tick in my butt! What do I do!" She was very calm about it, considering that by now it was three o'clock in the morning and I'd woken her from a sound sleep. She considered my dilemma for about thirty seconds and said, "Call Gail in the morning.  She'll take care of it."

Our neighbor Gail.  Of course.  Gail is a registered nurse.  Gail is a licensed massage therapist.  Gail has seen a million butts, including mine.  I contacted Gail first thing in the morning.  She was totally unfazed by my somewhat unusual request. Told me to come right over.  I did.  Ordered me to stretch out on my stomach.  I did.  "Well, you certainly did a number on yourself, didn't you?" she murmured sweetly as she effortlessly removed the remaining tick bits.  "It was kind of hard to reach," I explained.  "You should have just called me," she said. "Why didn't you call me?"

I tried to explain it to her but, well, I couldn't.  Because guys aren't supposed to explain themselves.  That's another guy thing.

I tell you, sometimes it's not easy to be a manly man.