On Friday morning, the new wife said she had bug bites. I said that twice in the past I had bites also and thought they were from bedbugs. We had done some Internet searching and gone to my dermatologist and discovered bedbugs are not medically dangerous and not the result of uncleanliness. We gave her hydrocortisone and sympathized with her.Leaving aside the spellbindingly unsubtly veiled hatred of the "new wife", this letter fascinated me due to the accepting approach the writer took towards bedbugs. She "discovered bedbugs are not medically dangerous and not the result of uncleanliness", and so she decided to do nothing about them but instead live with them peacefully. This reminded me of someone I know with the same live-and-let live attitude about parasites.
That evening, they moved into the hotel. Our son said his wife was absolutely adamant that they get out of our home as soon as possible. She has the reputation of being a "strong" woman, and she earns a very high income, so she is able always to get her way.
My husband and I felt embarrassed and disappointed that she reacted that way, but we are aware that a first-time, 45-year-old mother probably had mother-bear hormones at play, and we don't blame our son too much for giving in to her demands.
Last year there was a major lice infestation in Iris uber Alles's class at school. Iris did not go unscathed (by the end of the year, 70% of her class had lice), and there was a lot of sturm und drang at the school. There were many parents who took a very common sense attitude and just worked hard to eradicate the lice without drama. There were other parents who also worked hard to get rid of the lice, but who had some drama along the way (some wanted a scheduled overnight field trip canceled). And there were some parents whose children (allegedly) did not have lice, who you would think would be happily sitting on the sidelines, but had a lot of drama anyhow regarding those of us who did and got it treated. Several parents weighed in that those of us using professional lice treatment clinics were idiots.
Most memorably one mother sent a couple of angry emails to the class email list, rather condescending emails about how she is a medical professional who "could not remain silent any more", so anger-provoking were our emails back and forth about the status of treatment and preventive measures. We needed to know that lice were not considered a disease in many countries, and that many schools do not check for lice, and we should just let the lice go. (It is true that some public schools in our area no longer check for lice, but it's because they cannot afford to stay lice-free. Schools get funds based on each day that a child actually attends, and a child who must stay away due to lice causes a little cessation of state funding. Additionally, one district determined it would no longer bar lousy children because the lousy children would perform poorly on tests if they missed a lot of school, and this could result in a loss of school funding and local administrative control under the No Child Left Behind laws).
At school one day I had the misfortune to run into that angry, louse-loving mother. The conversation amongst the parents waiting for their third graders turned, naturally, to the ongoing lice epidemic, and that mother glared at me angrily, and, with a loud, raised voice and with veins visible in her forehead, ranted, "LICE IS NOT A DISEASE!!"
"I never said it was," I said firmly. "But it's a disgusting parasite which I don't want to live with. You can live without parasites." The louse-lover was disgusted and furious, and she stomped off. Another mother whispered to me, "She thinks we should all just learn to live with them. She thinks that's the right thing, like those countries where they do that."
"Where do they do that?" I've lived on three continents but had never met a louse-lover before.
"England. I think she used to live in England."