do you mean you have crabs?" Laurie stared at me incredulously.
I shrugged. "I found them last
"But how? Who?" she sputtered.
"I don't know. I have no idea where
they came from."
"How am I going to tell Glen? He's
so neat and clean
so fastidious." Laurie was not taking
"I'm going to town to do a massive
laundry and to buy some Quell. Next time you see Glen you could
just hand him the bottle."
"It's not funny, Sunshine," she snapped,
her green eyes narrowing. "I want Glen. I don't want to scare him
"Laurie, it's not like I'm happy about
this. I have to tell Martin too, you know. Maybe you guys won't
She looked down at the skirt she wore
and eyed me suspiciously. "Have you worn this lately?" she asked.
"Yeah." I didn't tell her that I'd
stopped wearing the skirts she wore after I saw her blowing her
two-year-old son Jason's nose into one. "You're safe there, but
I think I wore that shirt last week," I added.
It was the first week of June and
I had discovered the little buggers the night before while getting
cleaned up for Bonnie's birthday. We were throwing a birthday boogie
that night, but we also had a fuckload of planting to do during
the day. Fortunately nature celebrated the anniversary of Bonnie's
birth by giving us a day where the leaves grew visibly fuller and
greener as the sun rose higher in the sky. Perfect planting weather.
Everyone wanted to be in the garden, including me, but I'd taken
on baking the cake and making a good chunk of the party food. I
was stuck inside that morning.
Right after breakfast I put chickpeas
on the stove, and with them cooking I mixed the cake together. Thank
god, we had unbleached white flour so I didn't have to grind any
wheat and the cake wouldn't be a total lead weight from our eggless
and honey-as-sweetener diet. The dome we lived in had emptied out
so I could work unimpeded and get outside as soon as possible. I'd
even volunteered to do the breakfast dishes so I could get everyone
else out. Cleaning anything other than the dishes was pointless
because the family would wander in and out all day trailing dirt,
deserting used bowls, chopsticks, and mugs on every surface, and
as the day got hotter leaving stray clothing lying about along with
dirt-caked seed packets. A group effort would make the dome party
ready at the end of the work day. I finished the dishes, took the
cake out of the oven, set it to cool on the counter, and headed
out to the garden with a dubie to join the planting brigade. I left
the chickpeas simmering, reminding whoever went in to check the
From mid-morning to late afternoon,
I baked in the sun, digging, raking, planting, tamping dirt, and
watering with my sisters and brothers. Always offering little words
of encouragement to the newly planted seeds. With just over two
weeks to summer solstice, the sun and our far north location favored
us with long days, so when I returned to the kitchen to finish the
birthday dinner, everyone else still had a few hours more to till
With the chickpeas succulent and tender,
I boiled water for the store bought elbow macaroni, lit a joint,
then sat down and thought about bread. A great idea. But there was
no time to grind the grain, mix the yeast, hand beat in the one-cup-at-a-time
flour, let it rise for an hour, add salt, oil and eight more cups
of flour, knead the dough, let it rise for another hour, punch it
down, let it rise again, knead and shape it into loaves, let them
rise briefly, then bake. Not today baby not even with shortcuts.
Just thinking about it made me tired. Still, I was on a roll with
the food prep and wanted to give the impending assembled masses
something more. I pulled out Uncle John's Bread Book and
turned to the Irish soda bread recipe -- so easy even Charas could
make it -- stir the dry ingredients, blend the wet, mix together,
knead 5 minutes, shape and bake. And always a hit.
I dumped the cooked pasta into the
bowl with the chickpeas, then chopped onions, radishes and a few
pea shoots from the garden and added them, all the while bemoaning
the lack of later-in-the-season veggies to spark the mix. Next I
peeled garlic-- clove after clove after clove -- smashed it through
the garlic press into a jar with freshly made yogurt and tamari,
and shook it all together making a sharp, tangy dressing for the
chickpea macaroni salad. The cake needed frosting, hmm, no butter,
no powdered sugar. I mixed honey, carob and yogurt to a reasonable
consistency my tastebuds reacting to the contrast of tang
to sweet -- and slathered it on.
Spindle and Joy came in with spinach and
early lettuce from the garden, along with wild lamb's quarters they
picked in the meadow and put together a green salad. Everyone else
trickled in from the garden, and after bathing hung out in and around
the dome and the attached workshop. My work was done, boogie time
approached. I was sweaty and ready to party.
Feeling tired, but pleased with myself
and my labors, I trotted off to the creek, happy to be outside on
this beautiful evening. I dropped my clothes on the little concrete
bridge and slid into the water, sitting down in the little creek
bed. The cool water tingled life into my clammy skin; I lay back
and put my head in, my hair fanning out around me. A dusky almost
violet color was creeping over the bright sky; the air felt soft;
the bugs were at a minimum, so were the snakes. I savored this all
too rare peaceful moment alone.
After lolling around for a few minutes
pretending there was no one else on the farm but me, I picked up
the Dr. Bronner's soap and began to wash. It was then that I noticed
them. What I thought was dirt in my pubic hair didn't wash away,
and in fact, seemed to be moving. I wasn't stoned. I looked again.
Yup, it moved ever so slightly. I saw another speck doing the same
slow crawl. Oh man, what was on my body? Then it hit me. Crabs --
I had fucking crabs. I'd never had them, or even seen them, but
I knew that's what it had to be. They hadn't been on the commune
before, but somehow they had come down the road and chosen my body
as their gateway to a new community. That explained the sometimes
unbearable itching I'd had for the past many weeks. I examined the
rest of my body for other interlopers.
What I knew about crabs was that they
itched and were catching. I didn't know just how easily they traveled
around collecting hosts. A year before, clean and neat in my Milwaukee
flat, I would have freaked and been grossed out at the thought of
body lice living on my own particular body. Now, not knowing what
a hassle the little fuckers would be, I mostly took it in stride.
It was part of the trip -- maybe even a certain rite of passage.
I climbed out of the creek, dried
myself, picked up my clothes and walked back to the house.
"I think I have crabs," I announced
to Spindle who sat outside the dome nursing our baby Rainbow. "Take
I pushed my crotch into her face so
she could see.
She looked at my pubes. She looked
at me. She sighed. "You've got them," she confirmed.
''What do I do?" I asked.
"Ugh, what a mess. We'll have to do
a giant laundry -- all the towels, all the sheets, all the clothes.
You don't get them just from fucking. They linger in stuff and get
on another body. Hmm . . . I wonder where you got them," she mused.
"Anyway, there's this stuff you get at the drugstore to wash with
-- like a shampoo. I think it's called Quell. It kills them. We'll
need a big bottle."
A home like ours was heaven to these
critters I learned. When someone put a towel down someone else picked
it up, we shared clothes even though our sizes and genders varied,
and since our house had burned down last winter our sleeping arrangements
were often helter skelter -- bedding didn't always have the same
body imprint from one night to the next. The little crustaceans
could easily build a vast kingdom hopping from body to sheet to
body to shirt to another body to towel to yet another body. The
day after the party had to be town trip laundromat day. Everyone
in the family had to be told, as well as anyone who may have been
a guest in our homey digs, and any of us who slept away from home
needed to let the unsuspecting hosts know they might have unexpected
Who left me with these things? I was
pissed and felt duty bound to track down the gift giver, though
how I wasn't quite sure. But not now. Jackie, Paul and Glen arrived
bearing tequila. It was time to party.