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What can I say? Ticks dig me. It’s been this way as long as I can remember. I suppose my story is a bit cliché, but I’ll let you be the judge.

I was discovered at the age of three in a little town called Hollywood. Yes, that Hollywood! Is there any other? California, you say? Huh! But I digress. I was in the yard, romping around the coconut palms and through the croton bushes when I was approached by an agent looking for new blood. I was sucked in by the idea that I had something special, something that set me apart from other people, something—dare I say it?—in the very life source that flowed through my veins.

Before I knew it, the bug had gotten under my skin. I was the host of the town— living large, the meals and drinks always on me. Soon, not only ticks but everyone wanted me. Sure, it was attractive at first; I felt needed, as if I truly had something to offer. Admirers swarmed around me everywhere I went. A buzz of excitement erupted whenever I stepped outside.

But over the years I discovered I couldn’t satisfy everyone. I took to staying indoors, covered up when I went out. Then the whining started. I couldn’t escape its insistent droning in my ears, reminding me always, always that I had to perform, had to give my followers what they wanted—the little parasites. I tried shooing them away, but it didn’t work. They only flew at me with greater force, poking and prodding. And then they started on my children. We couldn’t go to the playground, walk to school or plant a garden like other families. The pests were relentless; they were eating us alive. I even employed a SWAT team, but our protection was only hit-and-miss.

I was drained and had the scars to show it. I decided to quit. I dropped out of sight, and the clingers-on forgot about me. At least, I thought they did. Recently, I felt that old, familiar itch. I returned to my roots, plowing the fertile soil of my comeback and planting seeds I hope will flower and bear fruit. As I’ve toiled I’ve reflected on those long-ago days. Had they really been that bad? Hadn’t the wounds healed?

The answer has come swiftly. I’ve been back in the Lyme light for only a week and already the ticks are in my hair, clutching at my arms and legs, sucking up to me. In the intervening years, though, I’ve learned a few things, and this time I’m DEETermined to dump these ticks before they burrow too deep.