I was idily contemplating sketching, the nature of stamp collecting, whether someone in a world without stamps would nevertheless feel a faint yearning for the licking and the affixing into books and begin collecting tongues instead (see, this is why I shouldn’t read Clive Barker before bed.) when the bathroom door opened, and a pantsless James called out that plaintive question that has plagued man for generations.

“How do I remove a tick, again?”

Alas, poor James. He recently started mountain biking again, getting an excellent workout and plenty of fresh air, but also acquiring a passenger while at Umstead Park. A deer tick, a piece of bloated punctuation, had latched onto his thigh

And I realized that I can’t remember, if I ever knew. I’m used to the BIG ticks, and even that experience was decades ago, and on the dog. The teeny weeny deer ticks, in addition to their exciting Lyme disease carrying capabilities, are something else again.

“We used to burn them off…” said James, eyeing his leg and presumably wondering how he was going to fine tune the Bic to a tick who had the indignity to be that teeny.

“Nobody’s burning anything off.”

My first notion was “Shit! Better call Mavis!” However, it was about seven in the morning there, and Mavis might have been sleeping, so we turned instead to the Trusty Internet. I sat at the computer. James stood by my chair. His tick, by neccessity, came along. Man, woman, and invertebrate, all in this together, consulted the web. I found a website, which James (and possibly the tick) read over my shoulder.

The web advised us to grasp the tick gently with tweezers and draw straight out, then fish the mouthparts out like a splinter if you had the poor luck to get tick jaws stuck in your flesh. Armed with this knowledge, with his usual aplomb, James and his tick retired to the bathroom to spend some quality time together.

It all came out well enough, no apparent tick bits were left in situ, much soap and water was in evidence, I have finally convinced James that he really needs to go to the doctor now, just to see if they can test him for Lyme disease, and I sat in the other room and had the heebiest of jeebies.

If I ever acquire such a passenger, James will not only have to do the honors, he’ll have to tackle me, because I’ll be running through the house screaming “GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFFFFFF!”

So it was an exciting morning.

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