Barry's Lice Problem

The main problem was he let his fingernails grow like a girl's, then scraped his scalp, and sucked on his fingers while he looked at you like people who like dog food look at you. Like they know something we don't.

Well I wasn't going to take this. I was 12 last year when all this happened, and my momma said you don't let them get to you. You stand up to fists. You tell on them if they touch you or say something to you. You use all the tricks because they aren't tricks. They are defensive maneuvers, like football or one of those games.

Anyway, I told Ms. Cro, my and Barry's English teacher, and so she started probing around in his head until she stood back real quick and screamed. We all laughed, and Barry was sent to the copy paper room they always used as detention. The trouble was, there was already a girl in there, and something must've happened, because by the time the health people got there, the girl that was in there with Barry had been released because her time was up, and then they found there was an epidemic. That's what she got for being such a popular girl at school.

So I guess it was Ms. Cro's fault for not checking to see if the copy paper room had some kids in it, and her fault the school closed for a week.

I didn't see what the problem was, the malls were great to walk around in because there was nobody there in the middle of the day on weekdays. I asked mom about lice, and she said, "You don't want bugs crawling around in your head, do you?"

I shrugged. "Can you die from it?"

"You can die from embarrassment," mom said, but I still didn't see what the big deal was. Of course, it's not like I was going to knock on the school door and demand to be taught some education. I wasn't a fool.

It was strange seeing a movie in the middle of the day - but it was great! And coming out of one of my second times seeing a really crappy Disney cartoon, there was Barry, scratching his head and licking those fingers. Standing by himself right in front of the long canisters of candy you can buy and take into the movies with you. It made me sick. He was looking right at the Raisinets, and I'd just had some Raisinets!

Anyway, I tried to get out without being seen, but then I felt this something hit me on the back of my head. It was hairy, so I turned around, and there was Barry. I guess it was one of those head to head butts. I didn't gross out or anything. I just wanted to know, "I thought you were being de-somethinged."

"I escaped," he said with pleasure. "You snitched on me. Now You've got cooties!"

"Oh my God! Cooties!" That was terrible! I knew what lice was, but this guy had cooties, and I didn't know what the hell they were!

I ran home crying. I told my mother, because she was always home when she wasn't out collecting some kind of government money.

She said, "Let me see," and she began to touch me all over, even in places I said Barry hadn't even touched or known about. She just smiled at me, and continued with one hand while with the other she put on this funny tape that had a couple women on it. Weird. I didn't know what to make of it, but I love my mommy, I really do.

—Ben Ohmart