Parasite: Latin, Parasitus, one who eats at anothers table. An organism that lives off of another organism, referred to as host. The one who lives off the hospitality of others without giving anything in return, save for their immutable presence. The guest that never leaves.
This particular animal has always given me pause to ponder. Not the fact that they exist for I am well aware of parasites having studied biology. But how or why anyone would allow entry and then the continual feeding frenzy by someone they refer to affectionately as boyfriend. The mistletoe plant is a parasite. It will destroy its host oak tree and yet we view it as symbolic of love. So is the Virginia Creeper. So is Spanish moss, which I love for all of its delicate, ethereal charm. Spanish moss typifies imagery of the deep south, dangling on live oaks. Much like transient homeless people arriving daily to Florida. Subsiding in shady places and off of others.
The parasite, in many ways can be charming to be around. Like romantic Spanish moss gently swaying on a sultry breeze, one is unaware of its true intentions. The parasite may at first seem to be helping eradicate a problem as well. Like the whale shark hosting the remora, the parasites presence is benevolent. It’s sucking the detritus away. In the ocean however, a remora really is beneficial. There’s tons of flotsum and sea lice for it to feed upon. Beware the human remora. After the sea lice are cleaned up he will start feeding on you.
The Parasite may present himself to be the lover or the dreamboat. Never the swindler or the predator. If he presents as the drunk, well then, you’re just plain dumb. Once he has gained entry into your life, perhaps by fixing a flat tire or helping you move furniture, he doesn’t leave. He will hang around like a puppy dog looking for scraps. It’s similar to feeding strays. Once you begin, you will be innundated with cats and dogs at your doorstep. I have found the best way and perhaps not the most humane way to tackle this issue is to be just plain mean. Do not make eye contact and do not allow your emotions to take hold and feel pity, else be damned!
When I first moved to Florida within two weeks I had 40 friends. Always coming over and always crashing on my couch. Eating my food, using my shower, borrowing money. Uggghhh…I got rid of them all but it wasn’t easy. Many I thought were friends. All were parasites. Florida is known for its large bug population. Unaware, I did not realize they walked on two legs. When I go to Walgreens parasites crowd the entrance. There is a bus depot adjacent to the parking lot and they beg for money, a ride, food or anything. I look in the opposite direction. I have to.
I remember a friend some years ago. It was Thanksgiving and she thought since she had won two turkeys at the grocery store, it would be kind to hand one out to a homeless guy sitting on the bench. It did not occur to her where he would cook the thing or eat it. So she invited him to Thanksgiving dinner with her family. Then she thought she would give him work doing odd jobs around the house. My friend you see is very kind indeed and is always thinking about the less fortunate. Big mistake. By Christmas the guy was living on her sofa. He stayed for 6 months and no matter what she did she couldn’t get him to leave. Finally, she changed her locks while he was out. He would bang and bang on the door to gain entry at all hours, day and night. When the police arrived he said it was HIS house and tried to have HER extricated! The poor girl was just trying to be nice.
In order to avoid having a parasitic infestion you must remain vigilant. Don’t let them find a weakness or they will find entry. I used to grow a beautiful purple Wisteria. It’s a lovely Chinese cultivar that bears pannicles of violet blooms in Spring when much is still barren from the long winters nap. It is also a rampant parasite. Within the first year its roots and vining branches were taking control of my fence, my garden and growing all over my shed. I did what any decent oncologist would do when faced with a mass of cancerous cells. I got a machete. I hacked it’s roots and branches down to nubbins and trained it to grow as a standard. I had to remain constantly vigilant however and do this every spring and twice in summer. For all of its beautiful purple profusion and swirling grace its goal was to take over my yard, my home and me. Unless I hacked and chopped at it constantly, it would win. I did this for 15 years then I moved. Certainly by now it has invaded the entire neighborhood.