No good can come of this...

"Scratching or rubbing is a reflex response that is thought to relieve the itch by simultaneously stimulating pain nerves and interfering with the transmission of the 'itch' signal to the brain."

Why are people so willingly blind to their own misguided behaviour?

If you can force them to sit down and consider the possible outcomes, they will see few, if any, positive ones. But they can't resist.

People scratch insect bites until they bleed. They test 9-volt batteries with their tongues. They drink until they vomit. They pick and gnaw and peel at their cuticles until they become infected. They watch just one more show on TV.

People can’t resist testing their own limits. They know it’s bad, but it feels so good.

And they don’t even want to admit that it feels good.

Consider the mosquito bite. An open-faced palm sliding up a chilled arm or just a couple of absent-minded drags of the fingernail across a slowly rising welt. The tickle may feel like it comes from without but its source is within.

You find yourself at the first level: acknowledgement that something is wrong.

Hmm... Something must have bit me. Damn mosquitoes.

You resolve to ignore it. You put it aside, and focus on the task at hand. moments pass. Then again you realize it’s bothering you. You don’t even realize you’ve returned to scratching it, but there it is.

Ugh! Fucking mosquito bite.

You find yourself accidentally stimulating the area a few more times. The more times you return to the same spot, the worse it gets. So you try strategies. Tactics. Approaches.

Place your beer on it. Press the palm of your hand over it and try to remain very still.

Does anyone have any AfterBite?

But it grows. And it's too late for that now anyway.

Make an X with your fingernail on the welt. Childhood magic that is more trained at distracting the mind from the case at hand. If you can just resist the urge to scratch, you’ll be fine.

But you're pitting childhood magic against childish desires. You know precisely what you should do.

And no one likes being told what to do.

So something inside you cracks.

You forget about what you know might happen because this is the moment in which you are living. Not the yesterday before you were bitten. Not the tomorrow of consequences. You ignored all of these things a long time ago, subconsciously, when you first brushed up against the idea that was a mosquito bite.

So you scratch. Scratching with a vengeance. You can feel the fingernail break the skin’s surface until a new layer of skin appears, and a raw pinkness is exposed, with the filmy clear liquid of a surface wound.

Something within you is relieved. The itch has turned into a pain. And pain, unlike an itch, causes us to avoid touching the area.

You may dab the sticky surface a few times, to see the impact of your handiwork. You may go to find a bandage to cover up what you have done. Or now that the itch has gone, you may just forget about it and go back to what you were doing before you finally gave in to the itch.

But the mosquito bite has not gone away. It's slowly transforming into a scab. Its next question may come a few days later, as the skin heals and the scab starts to lift slightly at the edge.

Will you pick at it?

 

kat@adchick.com