“They Came in the Night to Suck Your Blood!” No. It’s not the latest episode of “True Blood,” it’s just another headline about the latest plague, bedbugs.
Bedbugs sound like such an old-fashioned nuisance, something that had gone the way of buckled shoes, powdered wigs, bloodletting and books. Having bedbugs is like waking up to find that you suffer from dropsy and chilblains. They come from an age before bug spray, indoor plumbing and wrinkle-free sheets. Bedbugs, like pirates, are things we thought we no longer had to worry about, like weevils in the hardtack and putting antimacassars on the furniture. It makes you wonder what other long-forgotten tribulations will hit us next. If only we could get bed bugs to eat salmonella-laced eggs, we could solve two problems at once. But they lust only for our pure, sweet blood.
There’s good news and bad news about bedbugs. The bad news is that most pesticides won’t work on them anymore, and even the ones that work don’t seem to kill all of them. They can live for a year without eating. They will be here long after the last cockroach dies. They also don’t just live in beds. Homes and offices can get infestations. To get rid of them, men in hazmat suits have to move you out and fumigate your place for a few days.
The good news is that you’ve got a lot of blood and bedbugs are very small – they can’t drink it all. Not that reassuring, I know. But when life hands you bedbugs, make lemonade. And put a lot of gin in it; it’ll help you sleep through all the itching and scratching.
So, where did all these bedbugs come from all of a sudden? The experts say globetrotters bring them back from places where bedbugs are common. That’s where I want to go.
“Honey, where do you want to go next year: that place where we can catch malaria, or the place where we can get amoebic dysentery? Give me that brochure for contagious vacations, again.” And now thanks to these thrill-seeking travelers, we ARE the place where bedbugs are common.
Another reason for the bedbug outbreak is that people are embarrassed to admit they have them. It was thought that only people with poor hygiene could get bedbugs, and there was a social stigma to it. Now it’s a status symbol: you have enough money to stay in the fancy hotels that have bedbugs, and travel to faraway places that bedbugs also like traveling to. Lucky you.
If you don’t have bedbugs yet, there are a few simple things you can do to keep your house bedbug-free. Don’t go anywhere and don’t let people in your house. Keep the temperature of your house at minus 26 F. While the rest of us suffer night after night, you will be living the bedbug-free dream. Sleep tight.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at email@example.com
Copyright 2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.