Behold — the lovely wood tick

Ah! It is that time of year again. It is the season of fresh air, warm sunshine, dogs frolicking in the outdoors, kids playing in the sand – and that creepy, panicky, distressing feeling of a wood tick crawling somewhere on your body.

I scarcely mentioned the worthless little I mean, misunderstood and fascinating creatures, and fellow workers began squirming about and making menacing gestures towards me. One even ran to the bathroom.

Yes, few things in nature invoke as much reaction as the lovely wood tick. The latest statistics I saw on eminent danger showed that a vast majority of people rate the simple wood tick as a far greater threat than a charging rhinoceros or a grizzly bear protecting its kill.

The statistics weren’t even close. Apparently, to a large majority of people, the sound of a grizzly bear crushing a leg bone in its powerful jaws is greatly preferred over the hideous feeling of a wood tick inching along somewhere underneath clothing.

Oddly, many of the experts who emphasize staying calm and keeping your wits about you while a ferocious animal is charging, go absolutely berserk when they realize the dreadful sensation on their skin is a slowly crawling wood tick. You know the feeling. You can’t escape it or quit thinking about it. Please don’t forget to read the remainder of this column after your visit to the shower.

OK, now that you’ve showered, conducted a wood tick check and are reasonably certain you are free of all blood sucking and disease carrying creatures, here’s some facts you need to know.

Wood ticks anticipate your actions. They are programmed in a way not yet understood by the greatest wood tick researchers of our time. This unique ability, which many regard as even greater than the instincts that direct birds during thousands of miles of migration, allows the wood tick to secretly imbed itself in shoelaces, carpeting, even corn flakes. From these hiding places the wood tick cleverly awaits the presence of an unsuspecting human, which a wood tick can detect from miles away though pure lead.

I’m not certain here, but many believe preventive sprays and lotions only serve to better arouse a wood tick’s senses so they can locate you easier. Don’t try to outrun them. They’re much too fast for that and actually enjoy the chase.

We all have an abundance of wood tick experiences that we desperately try to block from our minds, but some ghoulish episodes just can’t be forgotten. Several years ago the catcher on our softball team showed up at game time in street clothes. Standing outside the chain link fence, he offered no immediate explanation to his teammates other than to say he’d be missing the next several games.

Caution advisory – you’ll need another shower as this continues.

About the fifth inning, still standing, our catcher became a little more talkative. He had declined several invitations to sit on the bench with us. Finally, he quietly admitted, he had recently undergone surgery to remove a fattened wood tick that had attached itself inside a bodily orifice normally sat upon.

As you might expect, the entire bench became alive with players squirming about as if they’d fallen into a large mound of aggressive ants. Shirts and hats were coming off, socks were rolled down and everyone completely forgot about the game. The fielders, umpires and our hitter at the plate starred at us like we had totally lost control. People in the bleachers were confused, too.

Our catcher was very upset with us because he didn’t want anyone to know about his problem. Yeah, right. Lovely, just lovely. By the way, he never played another game for us.

I’m headed for the shower.