Long before Olivia Pope, I was offering my fellow classmates services for managing scandals. (And believe me, there are puh-lenty of them.) I’ve handled everything from self-inflicted bang-trimming disasters to cafeteria lunchmeat conspiracies to homework plagiarism accusations. And, of course, there’s always the annual lice outbreak that must be managed by a professional of my caliber, otherwise there is complete and total pandemonium.
Now, I personally have never been infested with lice, since I maintain a strict lice prevention regimen of Boo! Shampoo, Boo! Spray, and other common-sense practices like never allowing any other person or object to touch my hair EVER, DON’T EVEN GET WITHIN SIX INCHES. And even though practically everyone I know tries to emulate me in every way, it’s an impossible goal, and therefore I can count on handling at least one lice-related scandal each school year. It’s only a matter of time before I’ve got a new client cornering me on the playground, begging for my help to keep his lice diagnosis from ruining his chances of getting into Harvard someday.
And what are lice but a public relations problem anyway?
There is no need for you to reinvent my finely chiseled wheel, so I’m sharing my 3-step method for managing a lice scandal at your school. (You’re welcome, Olivia Pope.)
- Call a press conference. Invite local media, parents, teachers, nannies, mannies, au pairs and personal drivers to attend. Serve fine cheeses and explain the facts of lice and dispel myths. Namely, remind the audience that lice aren’t dangerous or deadly, they can be treated effectively, and there is no reason to stay home from school because of a lice diagnosis. Just ask the American Academy of Pediatrics. Save your absences for the flu or last-minute trips to the Italian Riviera. And to prevent any unnecessary shaming or ridicule of your client, remind people that lice tend to find homes in the cleanest hair. So there.
- Stop the practice of sharing. I’ve never been a proponent of sharing in general (WHAT’S MINE IS MINE, AFTER ALL), but it’s a particularly bad idea for children when it comes to lice. Since lice don’t jump or fly, they travel from head to head by way of shared objects. Introduce harsh sanctions immediately on all sharing of hats, helmets, coats, scarves, hairbrushes, combs and nannies. Say it with me: If you care, you won’t ever, ever share.
- Distract with a new scandal. While you’re overseeing the treatment of your client’s lice (either with an over-the-counter treatment or a pricey lice removal service), it’s important to divert attention away from him. The best way to do that, of course, is with a new scandal. Maybe you plant a vague rumor about a potential foreign exchange student with royal connections. Maybe you “discover” what really happened to the principal’s toupee. Get creative.