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Saturday, July 30, 2011

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The creeping crud on my hands


Special to The Japan Times

Recently, I have had this creeping crud on my hands. I get it every year.

It looks like poison ivy — except that it isn't. How cruel to have only the effects of something and not the actual something. At least if I had poison ivy, when someone asked, "What is that creeping crud on your hands?" I could say, "Well, funny you should ask. It's poison ivy!" And everyone would say, "Oh yes, poison ivy. Please take care." They'd understand. But now when people look at me itching my hands, I know what they're thinking: she has fleas.

I'm sure I don't have fleas though because I wore my cat's flea collar for a while just in case. I put the collar around my wrist. But everyone thought it was one of those ionized bracelets. C'mon, I'm not that crazy. Maybe if I added a little bell it would be more obvious that it's just a cat flea collar.

I asked Japanese people if they had any ideas on what this creeping crud could be. Some suggested it was from the tatami mat in my Japanese house. Little critters called dani were the cause. Dani live in dirty tatami mats (among other disguised real estate inside your house) so they suggested I buy new tatami mats. The thing about dani is that they're microscopic, so you can't see them. So how do you know you have them? Oh you do have them, believe me you do! Everyone has them, according to the TV commercials.

The fact that I have dry skin doesn't help. Dry skin is usually very sensitive to other agents that cause dermatitis. Dry skin is a curse.

I'm the only one I know who has installed scratching posts in their house. I picked up this little trick from cows and horses. You never see them waiting around for someone to come and scratch their backs, do you? No, they go straight for the tree.

Those dandruff shampoo commercials lead you to think that people only have itchy scalps, but my whole body is like a scalp — body dandruff, if you will. Hey, cats and dogs have "dander." Dandruff probably comes from dogs with dander. Insult me more.

I could never be one of those movers who has to carry big sofas in and out of houses. If I have to carry anything large and all-encompassing further than a few steps, I get an itch somewhere on my body. And I have to itch it!

Recently when I got a new sofa, and we carried it into the house, as soon as I picked up my end, a signal went to my nose, which started twitching. But twitching and itch never works. So I bite my upper lip with my bottom teeth, thinking that if I stretch the itch, it might help. But no matter how much I tug on the itch, it doesn't go away. Then I gauge the distance between my shoulder and my nose to see if I can dip my head down to brush my nose on my shoulder. I can! Ahhhhhh!

But wait, the itch has travelled down to my leg now — it's on my knee! A quick swipe of the knee on the bottom of the sofa brings an immediate ahhhhhh!

But believe it or not, now that bitch of an itch is on my ankle! Please, not now, not when I have this big sofa in my arms. I can't put the sofa down now, not yet. Hold on ankle, I'm almost at the living room! Almost. But my ankle cannot wait any longer, so I sideswipe it with the sole of the shoe on my other foot, making me walk as if I'm drunk-drunk while carrying a sofa! But I attempt to look casual, hoping no one will notice.

I must ignore these itches. I am halfway to the living room, and there is still a difficult corner to round. Maybe if I sing it will help me keep my mind off the itches. But I smell a rat. A UB40 Rat: "There's an itch in me body, what am I gonna do, there's a itch in me body, what am I gonna do, I'm gonna scratch that itch, that's what I'm a gonna do, I'm gonna scratch that itch."

OK, I've successfully deflected a few more itches. But, oh, no, now the head is itchy. Someone help me! Just come over and scratch my head for me, right behind the right ear. Just like you'd do for your dog. Oh, I'm almost inside the living room. We are moving the sofa around the corner. Easy does it!

To further keep my mind off the final itches to come, I consider my dream invention: an itch machine! And why not? They've come up with every imaginable useless home massage machine in this country. Isn't it high time for a scratching apparatus? I'm thinking of something between an MRI machine and a car wash, where you'd be passed through a doughnut-shaped device and little loofah sponges would come down and scrub and polish you, then big pieces of cotton would swab you down with lotion. The ultimate spa!

OK, easy does it — the sofa is down! I no longer itch.

Dry skin has serious side effects, one of them being wrinkles. I already have the crow's feet, so next I'll probably espouse wings. When I take off flying some day, I can assure you I will be relishing in the newfound oil in my feathers. Ahhhhh.

I believe I have tracked down the source of my creeping crud and I don't think it's dani boy. I think it's an allergic reaction from a plant in my garden. I don't cultivate poison ivy, but I do grow things that look like poison ivy, even though they aren't.



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