January 6th, 2006

ozarque figure

Why ticks?

In response to this filksong...

Bless the Ticks [Tune -- "Silver Dagger"]

If it weren't for ticks, we'd see the angels, out on the porch and in the yard;
and they'd watch everything that we were doin', and it sure would make the doin' hard...

If it weren't for ticks, we'd see the angels, and their glorious wings, seven feet long;
and if you planned a fun little picnic, the Ozark angels would tag along....

I think we're much too shy for angels, beside our beds and in our car;
we'd better keep the little critters, we've done all right with them so far...

Thanks to the ticks, we don't see angels! And it's just as well, to my mind --
oh, think of the burden, livin' up to angels! Bless the ticks, that keep us blind....

... archangelbeth commented: "I've filked Silver Dagger a couple times myself, and therefore that part tickles me beyond reason. But... TICKS? Why ticks? (And not fleas, cats, or roaches? *grin*)"

Ticks have always baffled me. They don't appear to have any conceivable function in the universe. They just sit there at the top of a blade of grass and wait for somebody they can hitch a ride on and then bite, causing much trouble thereby.

For everything else in the world that I've perceived that way, I've always discovered that I was wrong. That is, when I did some research I always discovered that we really need whatever-it-is because it fills some essential role. Something important relies on it as the major part of its diet, for example, or it's a major ingredient in a medication that's needed by millions of people, or it's important in a procedure used in catching criminals, or some such thing.

I went looking for The Reason For Ticks, and found nothing. I even wrote to the tick center in -- I think -- Poteau, Oklahoma, and asked the scientists there, and they wrote back to say that so far as they knew ticks served no purpose. None whatsoever.

Which caused me to write a science fiction short story. It was called "Magic Granny Says Don't Meddle," and it was published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, a long time ago. In that story a woman in Arkansas finds a way to get rid of ticks, only to discover the horrible truth: that ticks are the Constraint that keeps humankind from being able to see the angels that are looking after them perpetually. Which led to a search for a way to get the ticks back.

So far as I know, that story's not available online anywhere; if that's wrong, and somebody has a link to it, please feel free to post it. And if anyone does know The Reason For Ticks, I'd be delighted if you'd share it.