Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
For the record I come from a middle class home; my 18-year- old son
is a 4.0 student athlete; we are well-respected members of the
community. My son volunteered to work at a camp for disadvantaged
kids. He just got sent home because…HE has lice!!! I am horrified. It
helps explain the itchiness I’ve had recently. Ditto the itchiness he’s
had, that he only thought now to mention. We suspect the team
batting helmet is the culprit. But because he takes so many showers
each day he’s managed to keep the little creeps in check. Now that
we’ve gone through everyone’s hair with a fine-toothed comb (where
that expression comes from!!) we’ve stopped being insulted and
admitted they’re ours. I am humiliated. I need to warn my colleagues,
my camping buddies, the people from our graduation dinner party,
etc. etc. etc.

Dear Mortified:
When we were young lice was considered a major social stigma,
usually associated with being poor and unwashed. These days it’s
much more of an urban and suburban blight, often spread via sports
though sharing helmets and other equipment. You may be mortified
but you are not unique. Your son’s many showers probably saved him
for a more acute bout earlier, but masked the symptoms. Most folks
who’ve been exposed probably already realized that their scratching
urges were beyond the norm. So they might not be surprised when
you tell them asap, as you must do.

Try this opener: This is as painful for me to say as it will be for you to
hear. I may have unknowingly shared lice with you that my son
contracted at baseball. If you can deliver this with a wry smile and sad
shake of your head, you may get laughter instead of horror. Hand
each a list of what to do next: the fine toothed comb, washing of
bedding and clothes, medication, etc. Tell them if they need to vent                                          you’ll stand still and listen. Last line: Remember, don’t scratch that