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How To Get Crabs
There are things you must learn before you can fall in love.
By Snowden Wright
It will take years of mistakes with women — not returning phone calls, forgetting their names, not wearing a condom — before you finally learn a valuable lesson: you have to get crabs before you can truly fall in love.
Over the spring semester of your sophomore year, you and a friend, Rick, live at your family's vacation home in Florida. The night it happens you are twenty years old. At a beachside bar that, given your age, will remain anonymous, the bartender gives you a beer. Your friend Jessica stands beside you, sipping one of her own. Tonight is her idea. Earlier, on the phone, after you claimed to be too tired to go out, she said you and Rick were turning into such babies. So you told her you'd be here.
Near the bar, waiting on the arrival of Rick, whose shift ends in an hour, you notice a woman giving you a look. She's in her mid-forties.
The first person you ever masturbated to was the White Witch in the animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Perhaps the event has something to do with your attraction to older women. Not everyone produces their first come stain to the thought of a thousand-year-old cartoon queen.
On the roof of a restaurant, the beachside bar overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, nothing separating it from the thick gulf breeze. A metronomic thrashing of waves on the shore competes with the band playing blues in the corner. You and Jessica talk about your work schedules while going seven beers deep. On your way to the restroom, the older woman grabs your arms and says, "How does it feel to be the best-looking guy in this bar?"
You tell her, "It feels great," but you feel nothing.
Come back from the restroom and ask the woman to dance. She is as drunk as you. Wonder for a second who is seducing whom. You will remember that her name is Sharon because MTV's The Osbournes is popular this year and she bears a passing resemblance to Ozzy's wife. On the dance floor, Sharon gets explicit about herself, including the fact she has a husband and two children, ages six and eight. She also gets explicit about what she wants to do to you. While attempting to hide an erection, you notice Rick talking with Jessica, both of them pointing in your direction. Rick finds the band's lead singer, whispers into his ear, and walks back to Jessica.
Cue the music. Those guitar chords stumbling over each other, that harmonizing of one man's voice with another's: The opening of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" is unmistakable. You find this hilarious. Oh, Rick! You laugh all the way back to Sharon's place, where the two of you make out by the pool.
"Do you want a fuck," she says, "or do you want a suck?"
"Both would be nice." Only later will you realize why she insists the two of you do it in the swimming pool. Must be tough to get old. Sure is tough to be naïve.
Hours later, back at the house, you creep into Rick's room, jump into bed with him, ignore his moans to be left alone, and say, "Guess what I did tonight!"
"Had sex with a woman twice your age."
"Please get your nasty ass out of my bed."
Dry-hump Rick for a bit, lift up his shirt, and give him a raspberry before going to your room, turning out the light, and falling asleep. Your dreams are tinged with chlorine.
Over the following days, you and Rick begin to notice small, itchy, red bumps on your bodies. They're no worse than razor burn. Although most are confined to your arms and legs, some of them appear dangerously close to your bathing-suit areas. That weekend, your parents arrive for a short visit, at which time you mention the predicament. You go to your mom first.
It is your dad who skips the innocent answer of bedbugs and jumps right to the conclusion of one who knows the guilty ways of men. His voice has a touch of Foghorn Leghorn to it as he yells something like, "The boys, I say, the boys got crabs." You and Rick deny his claim, both knowing he's probably right. "Both y'all look awful tired," your dad says that night. "Is something bugging you?" In the morning, you and Rick walk befuddled through the aisles of a drug store, arguing who will be the one to ask the pharmacist for crab medicine.
Your dad skips the innocent answer of bedbugs and jumps right to the conclusion of one who knows the guilty ways of men.
"I'm not the one who slept with that woman," Rick says. "I'm not the one who infested my bed afterwards."
Correct though he is, Rick eventually loses two out of three games of Rock, Paper, Scissors. He asks at the back desk, but the clerk hasn't a clue. (You would have thought a drug store located in such a popular spring-break destination would have an entire shelf dedicated to sexually transmitted pests.) At Wal-Mart, Rick discovers the solution to your venereal conundrum.
"Look right here on the back of the bottle," he says, holding treatment for lice of the head. "‘Also effective for the eradication of pubic lice.'"
"Guy at the drug store. What a fucking moron."
"Pot," he says to you, "kettle."
On the way to the checkout counter, Rick pauses at a rack of candy and picks up a Snickers bar. You ask about his diet. "When you've got crabs," Rick says, "weight just doesn't matter."
The two of you return to an empty house. Earlier that day, the appearance of a silverfish on the loveseat sent both your parents into a madcap frenzy to leave early. Rick volunteers to try the medicine first. Minutes later, you hear a horrific scream rise from a bathroom on the first floor, and minutes after that, you listen as Rick calmly tells you that the treatment didn't hurt much at all. Sweat covers his brow. You take the bottle downstairs, reading the steps of application. In the bathroom, you pull down your pants, straddle the toilet, and rub the foam into your crotch. You are supposed to leave it there for at least five minutes. The foam causes a very peculiar sensation, as though your cock has taken a sojourn in hell. You can almost hear a sizzle.
"How'd it go?" Rick says afterwards. The devil himself should take notes on Rick's chuckle. "You son of bitch."
Here's the real bitch of the story. Neither of you ever actually had pubic lice. Next week, an exterminator will come to check the house and say it is infested with spider mites, most likely the result of you and Rick leaving out food on the kitchen counter.