Q and A: itching and scratching

Q. "If it itches, scratch it." Is that basically your philosophy?

A. Yeah, but "philosophy" isn't really the right word.

Q. What's the right word then?

A. Profession.

Q. What strategy do you use for a typical itch?

A. No such thing as "a typical itch". Each one's unique. Each has a first and last name, a birth and death certificate.

Q. That's not very helpful. Examples, please.

A. The best itches quickly escalate, going from your little toe, say, to your entire body in a matter of seconds. Sometimes even the earth beneath your feet itches. Sometimes you have to scratch the dark side of the moon, make the ocean cry. Sometimes you have to scratch your brain to get at an itch on your ass.

Q. What was your all-time favorite itch like?

A. It happened on January 3, 1993. Backs of my knees. I'll never forget it. I wept with gratitude. Almost got me into the Guinness Book of World Records. Showed up on seismographs halfway round the world.

Q. Any special scratching techniques you want to tell us about?

A. Well, that's kind of personal.

Q. This is off the record. Not for attribution.

A. Okay, sometimes only a book of contemporary poetry will do the trick. A Cuban domino. A fun house mirror.  A tuning fork. A perfect stranger. In emergencies, a red shoe.

Q. How long have you been an itcher and a scratcher?

A. Put it this way: I had a backscratcher with me in my mother's womb.

Q. What advice do you have for beginners?

A. Don't just rush into itching and scratching. Consider other career options. But if it's your true calling, go for it. And don't just scratch yourself. Scratch other people's itches too. Be generous with your talent. Nothing worse than a selfish scratcher.

                                                                      -- New York, December 12, 2010

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