Indian leeches, when they sense prey is near, sit up on their posteriors (posterior, really), stretch out and wave back and forth like a rubbery metronome. Their logical goal is to grab hold of a passing leg, whether bovine, equine or humine. But when a hiker finds a leech, he shouts to his friends to come look, and they all sit on their haunches watching the leech dance.
The dance is fascinating. Like a candle, you can watch it for several minutes without experiencing a single thought. I’m not sure there’s any enjoyment involved. I’m sure no questions have been answered, no new understanding reached. But everybody watches, silently, intently, as the leech sways.
Leeches are hypnotists. It’s part of their secret life.
Leeches are also humorists. If you Google “leech bite India,” you will come up with some very, very odd websites. The very first hit is “Leech Bite: A Rare Gynecologic Emergency.” I leave the rest to your imagination. The second hit has to do with a leech bite in a person’s bladder. The third hit is unfortunately titled “A leech in the large bowel.”
I have great respect for the powers of the Google search engine—uncanny in its ability to find what you’re looking for. In this case, however, I think these are not the websites people want to find. It’s bad press for leeches, though a real testament to their ability to wriggle into tight places.
The hits speak to something else—that leeches have a sense of humor. They find it funny to bite people in strange places. A simple nip on the ankle will feed them just as well as a bite anywhere else on the body. But a bite on the ankle isn’t funny. One in the, um, well, you know, is funny. At least from a leech’s perspective.
There’s also a bit of showmanship involved—“you bit her where? That’s awesome dude! How did you get….?”
You see, leeches seem pretty simple on the surface. But they have a secret life.
You may ask why leeches hypnotize people. No, they don’t hypnotize any other prey. It is nearly impossible to hypnotize a cow, a horse or a rat. They see right through it. But a human being is no problem.
If you’re suspicious by nature, you might guess that one leech hypnotizes a group of people while other leeches sneak up from behind and wriggle up and into, um, your clothes. While this has happened, it is not the only reason. In part, leeches love watching people stare blankly. They have the funniest looks: slack jawed, furrowed brows, completely blank. It’s a riot. The other leeches hang out on tree branches and leaves just above. They offer the best view. But mostly it’s a power issue. Leeches just adore making the masters-of-the-world stop dead in their tracks and stare at the forest floor.
But how do I know all this? Simple. I am a leech. This is the glory of the internet. Nobody knows you’re a leech. And there’s so much disinformation out there, no one will believe my story.
We also love irony.