Daniel Menaker

Tick Off

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Maxwell had a tick on his rump which had been there for three or four days and had inflated to the size of an M&M. Really disgusting. This one was salmon-colored, maybe from the blood it was engorged with, turning the tiny brown horror huge and pink. This is a bad tick season. Katherine, my wife, had one on the back of her neck and actually went to two doctors for it. The place where it was still hurts, as if the tick had left some subdermal irritant there. Maybe its name was Kilroy. (I read somewhere once that the name “Kilroy” is a sort of Fawkesian anarchist pun combinng “kill” with “*roi*,” French for “king.” There are competing etymology theories. Freudians consider Kilroy’s drooping nose and two fists a symbolic depiction of the male genitalia, and thus a kind of testimony of sexual mischief.)

Speaking of sexual mischief and rumps, last night at a party I met a very smart young spanking fetishist/author named Jillian Keenan who told me that when a child who will go on to have this fetish, or who nascently has it at a young age, is spanked, it is similar to or actually a version of sexual abuse, despite the fact that the parent doesn’t know it.

What a party that was! Also met a guy who the next night was serving guests chocolate ice cream that required seven separate steps for its creation. No–it was NINE. Nine steps and seven days. And before that there was a book party for Peter Kramer and his new book about anti-depressants. He made an, um, well-developed, thank-you speech–to a room brimming with his fellow-shrinks–which featured a sort of hankering paean to New York and its culture of conversation. (I think Dr. Kramer lives in Boston.) At that party, a therapist told the old joke How many shrinks does it take to change a light bulb? Well, first the light bulb has to WANT to change. Along these same mental-health lines, I told the first and only joke I’ve ever made up:

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Dementia.
Dementia who?
I forget.

At that same party, Katherine reunited with David Hellerstein, who, when Katherine was a lowly story editor at theTimes Magazine, wrote a piece that K put on the magazine’s cover. That was a pleasurable re-crossing of paths.

Meanwhile, I am trying and largely failing to figure out how to bring this back around to the tick on Maxwell’s rump. Maybe it’s just all about afflictions. Except for the chocolate ice cream. Or maybe it’s all about love. Of the city, of Katherine, of people and their strangenesses. And of Maxwell. But not of the tick.

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