Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Small Favors

Friend Melissa and I had dinner here recently. As usual we talked about everything under the sun, or at least the stuff that matters, relationships, art, sex, food, and gardens. We also, for reasons I can't recall, discuss bed-bugs.

At three o'clock the next morning I wake from a dead sleep with not one, but two very intense bites, one on my hand, one under my arm. I know 3am is not a time when I'm at my most rational. Frankly at this hour of the night I go to the worst case scenario as easily as inhaling, and worst case becomes a whole lot more epic and elaborate than even my most overblown thoughts at any other time of day. No, let's not assume the worst, I tell myself. Let's not jump to any conclusions. Let's not act precipitously.

I wake myself up enough to be sure this isn't just some sort of powerful dream, but nope, those itches are real, I'm not imagining them. And they feel huge, especially the one under my arm.

Okay, no need to panic, there could be any number of explanations for this, bed-bugs are not the only option, in fact they're pretty unlikely, I haven't brought any new furniture or, I don't know, company into the apartment, let alone my bedroom, as I understand it bed-bugs don't bite in ones and twos like this, if you have them, you're infested, and they start feasting the minute you lie still long enough, all OVER your body, in fact you probably can't get to sleep very easily because of the biting and the itching, and let's acknowledge here, I was fully asleep for nearly four hours, that's a good sign, right? I mean there's no reason to assume the worst here, is there, that I've somehow gotten infested, which probably means the whole damn apartment is infested if for no other reason than the dog sleeps on any flat surface he can find, no, there's no reason to panic, and decide I HAVE TO BURN THE ENTIRE APARTMENT AND POSSIBLY WHOLE FLOOR THEN GO SOAK IN AN ALCOHOL BATH FOR 36 HOURS, RIGHT? RIGHT?

I look at the welts in the bathroom mirror. Yup, the one under my arm especially is really big. I put some anti-itch stuff on the bites, then go back to my room, wondering if I should check to for bed-bugs, even though I don't have the slightest idea how, I don't know what they look like, or how big they are, or where they like to hang out, though I think the underside of the bed is a favorite spot, should I go online first and do some research so I know what I'm looking for and what do I do if I find them, go sleep in the living room, do we have enough plastic bags in the house that I could blanket the place, or at least my room, do I wake Tommy up now, or do I wait to tell him the good news in the morning? My brain flying around like a fruit bat with all this, I walk into the bedroom, flick on the side lamp...

and there, just above my pillow, is a mosquito the size of a humming bird.

I squash her flat, and she leaves a red smear on my wall. Don't ask me what a mosquito is doing if a fifth floor Harlem walk-up at the end of October. I haven't a clue.

But I have never been SO happy to see a mosquito before in my life.


Unknown said...


That fourth paragraph built very well. I could feel the paranoia. Nice description.

Also the visual of stumbling, sleep deprived Patrick roaming his bedroom and coming face to face with a giant mosiquito made me think of Hunter S. Thompson. Heehee!

Cooper said...

I started feeling itchy about half way through reading this. Giant mosquitos are an integral part of a northern summer here ... so big they practically have their own postal code, especially out in the woods. I practically bathe in repellent before I leave for work. My thoughts had kind of wandered to you last night, (thinking about candles and your e-mail). I just hope I didn't somehow magic up Ms. Mosquito. :)

Jeff said...

That mosquito was my mother.

Joe Jubinville said...

I remember those badass New York City mosquitos, Patrick. What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in chutzpah. You're lucky you didn't need a transfusion.

Florida mosquitos of the brackish and salt water variety are but wimpy wannabees compared to their ravenous black-helicopter northern cousins that tormented my well welted youth. These little sprites leave scarcely an itch, which vanishes altogether within the hour.
That leaves only coral snakes, pygmy rattlers, fire ants, no-see-ums, stingrays, sharks, and alligators to watch out for.

Patrick said...

Thanks Davey. If there's one thing I can do, it's paranoia.

Cooper, not to worry, this incident happened over a week ago, well before your kind thoughts and candle. The mosquitoes of northern Canada is one of the things that keeps me from moving there. Well, that and the lack of theatres. But I've heard they're the size of moose, so I'd probably see about getting myself shellacked at the beginning of the Summer, if I lived there. Sorry for the itching by proxy, that's the other risk with this entry. Is it worse than making you sing Celine Dion?

Jeff, I did your mother. In the Dickensian sense of 'did'. Got somethin' to say, bitch?

Joe, oy, Michigan mosquitoes, they are a special breed indeed. I've experienced them in Mich. and Maine, both places have some ferocious ones. You're right, this mosquito had chutzpah. She was very New York. One of my best friends fled Florida a few years ago, in part because he felt like nature was out to kill him there all the time. I think it would be the giant flying cockroaches (that also bite, yes?) that would do me in. Actually I had one fly at me here recently. I thought at first it was just a really good jumper, which was bad enough, but then it made a right angle turn in mid-air. I still turned it into a tiny frisbee.