Have an Itch
Off the Wall, May 7,

Years ago, I heard someone on a news program ask, “Which would you rather have, an itch or pain?” I’ve tossed that question around in my mind up to the present, never spending much time on the subject.

Recently, I was told by an optometrist that I have dry eye. I always thought that to mean my eyes were always dry and I needed drops to lubricate the surfaces within my tissues. When I told him my eye (meaning the works, including eye ball, lid and socket) itches all the time and keeps water flowing as though I am watching Bambi meet its demise, he told me his diagnosis. Boy was that an ‘eye-opener’ or, I guess I could call it an ‘I-opener.’

Right then and there I reached my conclusion to that all-too familiar question – “What would you rather have, an itch or pain?”

“Bring on the pain!” Now, I’m not saying I want a lot of it. I just need some to override the itch. Scratching one’s eye can be so detrimental, so it best not to do so.

I know one isn’t supposed to stick anything in one’s ear smaller than one’s elbow (stupid statement if you ask me. That can only be accomplished if you cut your arm off, and even then you won’t be able to get that boney structure through the opening, so flag that statement, pronto). Is there a similar statement that corresponds to one’s eye? Maybe when thinking about it, “Don’t stick one’s heel in one’s eye to scratch it.” Toes are too easy. And if one isn’t allowed to use either of ten digits of the foot, knees are wonderful, except they don’t have any ‘Jagger’s,’ such as fingernails or toenails.

If there ever was a four-letter word that one can scream aloud without defending anyone, it’s the word ‘itch.’ Janet can yell out in a crowd of people, “My arm itches underneath my cast,” and she will get people making compassionate statements.

Look at the word for a minute or less. The first two letters helps one zero in on where the problem lies – ‘it.’ There is nothing hard to understand about that word.

Let me cite some examples

“Frank passed around the offering basket and Karen, after filling out her envelope, dropped ‘it’ in.” There is no question in my mind. The thing that was deposited had to do with money, right?

“John carried ‘it’ to the choir loft and put new music in’ it.’” The ‘it’ was referring to a binder, in case there was just a dab of questioning.

There’s an old saying, “It’s as pretty as a picture.” Must be attractive or the something or other wouldn’t be a stand-out.

So, another question right away monopolized my thinking. How could a word that refers to so many different things get caught up in such an irritating word as ‘itch?’ I can only surmise that the two-letters help pinpoint the aggravation.

The funny thing about that word is that it doesn’t always have to refer to something negative.

Steve may state, “I have an itch to fish the Conemaugh River after I leave work.”

Pregnant women may have a desire to eat a certain food. “Molly had an itch for pickles before she gave birth.” The sensual sensation that seems to originate in the brain and then work its way to a particular wanting or craving has been classified as an ‘itch.’

The more I talk about the ‘itch-bit,’ the more I want to think about it. In few words or less, I don’t want to ponder it.

Think of what happens when one gets a mosquito bite. The first thing I do in combating that itch is to try to replace it with just a bit of pain squeezing it. “Oh, that feels so good!” It really doesn’t, but in comparison to that irritating feeling a slight burn is a wonderful feeling. “Bring on the burn. Bring it on.” There’s that word ‘it’ again.

I know there is a reason for itch, and thank God it’s a gift, believe it or not. If we didn’t get it, we may never know that we may be allergic to something, bitten by a creature or warned not to try whatever we did to get into the fix that we’ve gotten ourselves. Itch is a great alert system to winning us over to better futuristic ways.

Don’t knock it. Move on and learn from it.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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