The Lousy Advice

As a big sister I am often called upon to provide guidance to my younger siblings.  However, I never expected to be the go-to expert on genital crabs.

My younger sister called me in a panic one summer afternoon.  Her voice was breaking as she described her predicament: the uncontrolled itching and, even more frightening,  movement “down there”.  

Now, this was the early 80’s, so I was unable to google “genital crabs”.  And since I was not a Gynecologist or an Entomologist, and had barely passed Sex Education with a C,  I just had to rely on my gut instinct.

“Shave,” I said, immediately and confidently.  It made perfect sense.  Without the hiding spots,  the little rug rats would be easier to spot.  Emily thanked me and I hung up, feeling pleased with myself.

After a few minutes I decided to consult my best friend Cindy, who was far more sexually experienced than I.  Upon hearing of Emily’s potential “inhabitants” she said firmly, “Tell her not to shave.  She needs a Nix kit from the pharmacy.”


I frantically called Emily, hoping to beat her to the bush.   When she didn’t answer, I left an urgent message about Nix.

The good news is that Emily picked up a Nix kit.  The bad news is that I did not beat her to the bush. 

Emily was not happy when she returned my call.  “Lou, I’m supposed to wash my hair with this stuff and comb the crabs out.  I have no hair to wash!”

I responded with confidence that I did not have.  “Just wash it anyway.  The skin, that is, not the hair, since the hair is long gone.” 

“Do I comb my skin then?” she asked, clearly perplexed.

 Again, guessing, I said, “Definitely.” 

It was several hours later when Emily called and reported that she spotted a crab walking on her arm.  The hair on her arm is not as thick as pubic hair, so apparently the crab was in search of another place to take root.

“Was there only one?” I asked, imagining a line of crabs in hiking boots with binoculars around their little necks.  Emily told me that although she only spotted one, her entire body was itching.  Including her head.

“Shaving your head will probably not help, so don’t do that,” I said wisely.  I suggested that she go back to the pharmacy and purchase a few more Nix kits and to shampoo and comb her arms, and every other place on her body with hair.

“I am drawing the line at eyebrows,” she said.

“I completely agree,”  I responded.  “And don’t worry about your eyelashes.”

I lost a bit of credibility with my younger sister that day.   But I earned it back a few days later when she asked me how to break the news to her roommate, our older sister Bean, who was scratching uncontrollably.  Like a dog with fleas. 

“Tell her not to shave.”