FEATURE

Sex talk
Speaking of Crabs


Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

"Love is like an itching in my heart," says the old Supremes' song. But what if the itching is a bit...lower down? Nobody likes to play host to parasites, but sometimes the creepy-crawlies come to call.

"Crabs" are lice – little blood-sucking critters that love the hairy bits of somebody's body, in this case, the pubes. They're nicknamed "crabs" because that's what they look like, pincers and all. Large enough to see with the naked eye, they're still small enough to escape detection. A vague itch in the pubes can go on for days, getting more and more bothersome, before the awful realization dawns and a tour of the pubic region unearths the sexual version of an Ant Farm. (A pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass will aid the quest, as will a nonsqueamish pal with sharp eyes and patience.) There they are: little grayish insects (with a splash of pink if they've recently dined) hanging out at the base of your hairs, laying their little eggs (or "nits") and waving their claws at you. It's all a bit creepy.

Crabs are easy enough to catch. As well as crotch-to-crotch contact, infested bedding or towels can pass them on, so there's always the possibility of plausible deniability: "Sorry, honey, I must have caught them at the gym." There's also the vague possibility that a toilet seat will provide a jumping-off place for a venereal invasion.

Fortunately, crabs are almost as easy to get rid of as they are to catch. Well, almost almost. Picking off bugs and nits by hand is rewarding, but insufficient. A 10-minute application of over-the-counter crab-killing poison, followed by a thorough laundering of clothes and bed sheets (as well as quarantining nonwashable items in sealed plastic bags for a couple of weeks), and the buggers will most likely be gone. They can sometimes be stubborn, though, necessitating re-treatment or escalation to the big guns of prescription remedies.

It can be easier to kill crabs than to deal with their social aftermath. Like many STDs, sexually transmitted parasites can take a while to make themselves known; it usually takes about a week to 10 days before a newly sensitized victim notices the itch, and some louse-ridden guys may not itch at all. One man recalls an awkward moment: "I met this really great guy who told me it had been quite a while since he'd had sex. We spent a great night together, but a couple of days later I started itching. It was crabs, and I thought it only right to let him know as soon as possible. I kind of chickened out, though, and just sent him e-mail. When I ran into him a couple of weeks later, he was noticeably unfriendly. I would have liked to get together again, but he treated me like the crabs proved I was a bigger slut than him." He laughs. "Which I guess I was."

Confessing to a sex partner that you have any sort of STD can be harrowing, and crabs seem especially gross. But partner notification is not only good sportsmanship; it can make good, self-protective sense. What goes around comes around, they say, and that includes nasty little fuckers that hop from crotch to crotch to crotch till they get back to you.

Just as you can't have a picnic without ants, even the cleanest, most careful boy may someday find himself scratching his balls. But lice are, after all, just bugs, no more shameful than mosquitoes. So don't be a coward when it comes to crabs. Douse them with poison, and be sure to tell your fuckbuddy to do the same.

And take heart. It could have been worse; you might have caught scabies.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion



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