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Baby's First Infestation

I didn't know why I'd had a case of the itchy-head for the last couple of days; since it coincided with my discovery that I'd pitched my tent on some mysterious sandbags (becuz who expects the ground in a forest park to be made out of sandbags?), I thought the two things might've been connected somehow. The morning I woke up and found myself scratching my scalp almost insanely with both hands, I decided that I absotively, posilutely had to come back after lunch and move camp.

When I got to downtown Santa Cruz and sat on a park bench to scratch some more, the awful truth was revealed to me. With an audible plop, a pair of little white objects, not as big as rice grains, fell on the leg of my jeans...and started to walk away! I reacted in a way more appropriate to a character in a David Cronenberg movie, or maybe A Scanner Darkly. "Oh god oh no, BUGS! I've got BUGS! BUGS IN MY HEAD! Ohgodohshitohnonono, there are hideous parasitic blood sucking contagious LIVE BUGS ON MEEEEE!!"

Pediculus humanus capitis, in fact; common ordinary head lice. Indeed, they were all over the road-rat and hippie communities of Santa Cruz just then -- the street folks naming the Brancifort Street hippie house as the vector, the Brancifortean residents blaming the wanderers for bringing the bitey creeper-crawlers into their previously pristine (HAH!) environs. The controversy had been worsening the already fractious politics between these factions of the local counterculture for rather a while recently.

Feeling utterly unclean and leprous, I made my way downtown to where my friends were. Ashamed all out of proportion to my plight, I confided my condition to my best bud, a lovely slightly butch hippie-lesbian we called Cowgirl Betsey, on account of she wore a serape and Stetson straight outta High Plains Drifter. Betsey was sympathetic, but pragmatic -- "you gotta get that taken care of right away, Squish, it'd be hella irresponsible not to'" She also told me that UC-Santa Cruz had a free medical clinic, but it was for women only. I asked one of the older hangers-out whom I trusted if he knew what i could do; his advice was to go up to San Fran and hit the Haight Street Free Clinic. They'd give me a 'script for an effective buggicide, but I'd probably have to pay to get it filled. It would also be necessary to wash all I owned in very hot water and pet flea shampoo, and dry it even hotter for about an hour.

Okay, fine. Except these things cost money, of which I had none at all, Necessity is the mother of invention, they say -- but in my case it was a mixture of desperate embarassment, crazy-making itching, and being forbid to hug any of my pals. I tried that heaith clinic anyway, Three minutes later I walked away feeling hurt and insulted by the unwelcoming stare of the UCSC student receptionist and deeply disappointed that I'd failed so utterly to make any progress regarding of my uninvited visitors.

So hitching north to the free clinic was what it had to be. And I was broke as a joke. I grumpily went about hitting every grocery store and mom'n'pop in town, buying a banana or a pack of Now'N'Later candy with a one-dollar food stamp until I ran out of them, stashing the change in a gym sock. I'd never been able to panhandle -- talking to strangers made me self-conscious and nervous, to say nothing of asking them for things--but I did anyway. My method was walking up to the cafes and eateries with outdoor tables and announcing loudly and woefully to the diners that I had a bad case of bitey-bugs, and needed bug-killer shampoo but I was broke and could they please help me? If they didn't want to come close I understood (here I took off my hat and set it on the sidewalk) and they could put their change in here, instead....it actually worked. It was probably my delivery, since the material was [ahem!] old hat.

By sundown I'd accumulated something like most of the required fundage. Once they realized I was serious about solving my varmint problem, a few of my friends who weren't as broke as I was -- Woof and Maynard, and Al, and The Swami, and Cowgirl Betsey herself--kicked down a couple of bucks. And so I had it -- enough cash to fill that script they'd give me up North in Frisco, and get some dog shampoo, and wash all that I owned--which was fortunately just a tent, a sleeping bag, and enough clothes to fill a backpack and a pillowcase.

Bright and early the next morning I was up and about at the north end of town, waving my thumb at the cars on Highway One. I got a ride pretty quick.

Oh Lordy wasn't that Coast Highway North something to see for the first time! Looking over and down onto the Pacific crashing to the land was a rush and a half. And oh LORDY Lordy, what a trip it was to ride into the fabled city of San Francisco for the first time ever! Eh, I was a kid at the time, and easy impressed.

I'd made real good time getting there and was at the door of the historical Haight Ashbury Free Clinic right at opening time. Once the lovely person who saw to me heard me plead my plight, he gave me (of course!) a big bottle of prescription-strength personal buggicide wash -- active ingredient was Lindane, if i recall correctly. Afterward I wandered around until I found a Walgreens and bought some flea shampoo and detergent powder, and soon after that I was back on Highway 1, headed South.

Once again I lucked out bigtime getting a ride. The wheelman was my age and looked kind of square with his neat haircut and athletic build -- but he pretty quickly lit a joint, the best tasting pot I'd had in days--and told me I could have all the roaches in the ashtray, too, and they were long fat roaches, I mean a third or a half of a joint each, three or four of 'em!

Back in town I went to my campsite and bagged up and busted down my stuff. I found a laundrymat real easy -- it's a college town, so there's lots of 'mats. Washed the whole works twice in hot and hotter water, with Tide and flea-and-tick shampoo, dried it hotter and hottest for an hour and longer, and while that was in progress I locked myself in a gas station loo and washed the Hell out of my hair with that miraculous, technological elixir of death, Lindane shampoo. And then I snuck off and smoked one of those top-shelf roaches right down to a nib of a nub.

My best friend, Cowgirl Betsey, was the first person I met when I got back downtown. "Heya, Squish," she halloo'ed, "didja get your head taken care of ?"

"Ooooh yeah" I said, " got my head taken reeeeaaalll goooood care of!!" and I grinned from ear to ear, opening my hand to show her two fat half-joints of very good reefer.
 
once i was a child of the road, now i'm a man of the streets. in my 20s and 30s i did a whole lot of thumbing around and bumming around; now i live in bedlam by the bay. i'm glad to see that there's still good strong youthful energy on the roads...
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Desperado Deluxe

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Ya kno you can just buy bug shit for about $10-$20 at any drug store without a script right? Also they do haircuts at the red church and at the bum feed place out on hwy 9 there's a free clinic there..
 

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
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Ya kno you can just buy bug shit for about $10-$20 at any drug store without a script right? Also they do haircuts at the red church and at the bum feed place out on hwy 9 there's a free clinic there..

based on the way the story was phrased, i believe this story took place maybe around 20 years ago, so maybe they didn't have that kind of stuff readily available then?
 

GregInWy

I'm a d-bag and got banned.
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Great story! I'm thinking about what a horrible thing to make prescription only. wtg capitalism! not. Reminds of the guy marking up a med that save lives, by 1000%
 

El DeLuxo

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May 29, 2016
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Location
San Fran
Ya kno you can just buy bug shit for about $10-$20 at any drug store without a script right? Also they do haircuts at the red church and at the bum feed place out on hwy 9 there's a free clinic there..

The over-the=counter products are all Pyrethrin based.Pyrethins are less toxic and more biodegradble than organotoxins like Lindane, which are a whole other level of nasty. Lindane shampoo is the scorched earth option .against lice and crabs and cooties.,
 

El DeLuxo

Pilgrim
Joined
May 29, 2016
Messages
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San Fran
So, you missed the 89 quake. Lawdy, that was a time. I sorta enjoyed the post-apocalyptic feel that the town had for a few months.

Oh, the wake-up-n-shake-up of that otherwise dozy afternoon in '89 !!! i lived with some other people in a crumbly ol' bungalow in North Oakjland, and the shit hit just as I was leaving the loo. There was a little tremble that grew into a rumble and one of the other housies on the phone with her Ma back east, said "we're having a little earthquake right now!"

"Oh no, we ain't!" I wailed, standing there watching the house bat back and forth and sideways all at the same time. The floor felt puffy and rubbery and here was a whining groaning noise somewhere deep inside the house itself it felt like several minutes but it was just a few seconde. Once the floor didn't open up underneath me and the ceiling didn't fall on my head I jammed it out the front door fastit

There were a few sirens wailing somewhere far off, and then there were a lot more of them, and in someone else's house I could hear a crazy-excited radio,guy going faster and louder with every syllable, and the neighb's all came pouring out of their houses yelling and.screaming and....

I went to the basemernt and into my room, cracked a drink, lit up, and sat down to find a radio station that was on the air. What the hell else was I gonna do?
 

Brother X

caput gerat lupinum
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What I liked was how many people suddenly left town in quake-related fear. Housing prices dipped noticeably and didn't rebound for a year or two, it was nice.

RACER

Yeah, that was nice. Also, during the protracted power outage, I liked how people started working together, were forced to actually and pulled together as a community. The first night, my neighborhood (beach flats) made a giant bonfire out of the wood of wrecked homes where we cooked our frozen food before it went bad in a big collective potluck. We comforted those who were rattled by the aftershocks, which for us there on the epicenter, were occurring every hour. We played instruments, listened to the radio, ate food, drank, smoked gange and danced. The surfers hung on beach hill, clinging to their boards, looking out at the bay, wondering (I think hoping) if a tsunami was coming. Days later, we still had no power and people just naturally adapted. Stop lights were treated as 4 way stops, no cops had to be there to tell us. One grocer tried for about an hour to gouge prices and was met with 100 angry Santa Cruzians, threatening to take justice into their own hands. The prices went back to normal and people continued to shop there. I boiled water from my bathtub on my Coleman stove and shared it with my neighbors who had not had the presence of mind to fill theirs up as soon as the first rumbler had stopped shaking. We went downtown and heckled George Bush (the first one) when he visited. We netted Sur fish and had cook outs on the beach. Most places were closed, so most people didn't have to work. Landlords were forgiving, no power so no power bills...vacation.
 

WieselFlink

Pilgrim
Joined
Jul 9, 2016
Messages
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Location
Vienna, Austria
I remember when I got fleas, like real human fleas, in southern germany from sleeping on a fucked up couch in the backroom of an inoficiall "library and bar". So gross, everything was itching and I couldn't wait to get rid of them asap. My solution was vingar, lemons and salt, covering my whole stuff and body with this hellish mixture. It was quiete effectice, after renewing the vingar-mixture everyday it took just a few days to get rid of the fleas again.
 

landpirate

campervan untilising nomadic traveller
Joined
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Brighton, United Kingdom
I had head lice almost constantly for the four years I was squatting/properly homeless. I would get rid of them and then less than a week later I'd get them from someone else. I guess that's the downside to having waist length hair because its probably a lovely place for them to hang out and its a complete bitch to comb with one of those stupid nit combs. It just makes you feel so disgusting and dirty and paranoid. Urgh I am proud to say I am 4 years clean of the head lice!
 
A

AlwaysLost

I closed my account
I got lice from the kids at the shelter. Head scratched for days until I let this moron cut my hair. The cut was so bad I had to shave it. But it turns out lice can't lay their eggs if there's not enough hair...serendipity.
 

GregInWy

I'm a d-bag and got banned.
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I got lice from the kids at the shelter. Head scratched for days until I let this moron cut my hair. The cut was so bad I had to shave it. But it turns out lice can't lay their eggs if there's not enough hair...serendipity.
It is encouraging to see the strong spirit/attitude you've got going for you. Rock on!
 
A

AlwaysLost

I closed my account
It is encouraging to see the strong spirit/attitude you've got going for you. Rock on!

Thanks for the kind words. Just got to keep smiling through the hard times and wait for the good. Not always easy but u gotta laugh it off. Nice to meet you.
 

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