Around midnight last night a big, fat, black tick crawled across the pillow on my bed. How did that tick get on my pillow, you ask? I have NO CLUE. Therein lies the problem. I have to know. Was it in my hair? I have curly hair. I’ve found things in there before—twigs, berries, Christmas tinsel, and dried baby puke, for example. Was it attached to my body? Did it crawl up the wall? Did it bring friends? Do ticks travel in herds, pods, or some other collective group? I need to know. This is a genuine domestic emergency. I’m thinking of calling Homeland Security or Martha Stewart.
My husband’s reaction: He reached across the bed with a tissue, scooped up the invader, crushed it, walked to the bathroom, and flushed it away. He then calmly and wordlessly climbed back into bed, turned his light out, and gave every indication of nodding off without a single comment on Tickgate. I, on the other hand, was too horrified to speak. I sat fully upright in bed, clutched my covers in full-panic-we-might-need-to-call-an-exterminator-tonight-to-cluster-bomb-the-house mode. My sleep-deprived, chronic-insomniac, ferret brain was churning like an overloaded washing machine. My neurons were firing in every direction, with no order, logic, or causal connection to the tick stimulus. Tick + pillow= emergency. Period.
Right then I discovered a very important test of marital compatibility, a clear predictor of future harmony. Although I did not know it until the wee hours of this morning, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who can sleep after finding a live tick on their pillow and those who cannot. My husband and I are on different banks of this great divide. In addition, my immediate, visceral response to this incident was to discuss its proximate, possible, probable, and actual cause at length. I’m not an outdoor girl. I am the least likely person in the world to have a tick on her pillow. I experienced an immediate and passionate desire to discuss every possible scenario that resulted in that tick appearing on my pillow. My husband did not share that need. How could this be? Who thinks like that? I don’t know a single woman in the world who would not have talked that tick to death with me.