We have some very creative and funny people in our forums. When funny people get bed bugs, their humor serves as comic relief for all of us in the trenches.
With elchinche’s permission, I am reposting it — and the author’s introduction to it — here, so it can enjoy a larger audience.
I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
One day in a fit of despair, I sat down and wrote the following (hopefully funny) essay loosely based on my adventures in the world of fighting bed bugs in NYC. Just for the hell of it, I submitted it to The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” sections. The editors said they liked it but it wasn’t for them. Then I realized that the perfect audience of people who could really use a laugh about this are right here on bedbugger.com. So I hope you enjoy!
¡LOS CHINCHES ESTAN DE VUELTA!
You hear rumors–stories that involve someone’s friend or co-worker– but rarely does anyone have the courage to stand up and say, “I am dealing with this. This is my story too.” Well, I for one will no longer live in shame. New York City, I am here to tell you that I am one of those mythical people discussed with pity at every cocktail party you’ve been to for the last year. That’s right, I have bed bugs.
I’m not anyone special. I’m just your regular, run-of-the-mill (but less much successful) Liz Lemon type. There is no reason to fear me, avoid me or refuse to shake my hand– except that I may inadvertently introduce blood-sucking super bugs that are almost impossible to get rid of into your life. And while bed bugs don’t normally travel on a person’s, uh…person, there is always a chance that despite all of my precautions one might have wandered into my bag or between the pages of that copy of Eat, Pray, Love that I’ve been carrying around for 6 months, but haven’t yet started to read.
If you think you can avoid me, think again. I’m active in several neighborhood organizations. We may be members of the same community garden, if yours is the one where every single member hates every other member so much that it is only a matter of time before someone gets attacked with a rake.
We might be members of the same CSA. I’m the person who always puts her fennel back in the swap box. Wait, you’re right; everyone puts their fennel back into the swap box. I’m the person who accidentally filled out her order form wrong and ended up with 50 pounds of dried beans.
You won’t just see me around my neighborhood either; I’m all over the city. That’s me crammed backside to backside with you on the train. It’s so depressing to look up and see those ads for mattress encasements. You know the ones with the giant disgusting picture of a bedbug that say, “Bed Bugs are Back!” It’s a bummer that there are so many of those ads, but none of them are in Spanish. I rely on the Spanish ads in the train to help me prepare when I haven’t done my homework as I rush downtown on Monday nights for my continuing education language class. The good news is that I’ve learned to translate: “¡Los Chinches están de vuelta!”
I could easily spread this pest to the entire city by six degrees of separation simply by starting at my job. My office is in a fairly well known midtown Off-Broadway theater venue next to a methadone clinic. We get quite the cross-section of New Yorkers. I once saw Matthew Broderick get attacked by a homeless woman with a ukulele.
The most frustrating thing about bed bugs is that they can be really hard to detect because they are notoriously secretive. They are able to hide in tiny crevices and only come out at night. Knowing that the bed bugs are waiting until you go to sleep to crawl on your body and suck your blood can make you start to get a little crazy. Sure the city never sleeps, but people ought to get at least a few hours of rest a night. If you don’t and instead do something like say, wear socks over your hands as well as your feet and then tape your pajamas up at the ankles and wrists and then lay in bed pretending that you are falling asleep but instead jump out of bed every 15 minutes and shine a high powered flashlight around your bedroom…well, from experience, I can tell you that after about a month of doing this, there is a good chance that you will begin to have sporadic hallucinations.
I have started to see bed bugs everywhere I go. I won’t even stand next to the benches in the subway system. I refuse to sit when I visit people’s homes. Don’t even get me started on movie theaters and museum coat checks.
Just the other day on my way to work, I’m pretty sure I saw a bed bug jump from my bag and grab the lowest rung of the New York Times building and quickly climb to the top where it unfurled a green pro-global warming banner. Sure, it was a small banner, almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but luckily I had my binoculars after being instructed by my armoire the night before that I should carry them with me in the morning.
I have a working theory that bed bugs have evolved and no longer travel through space and time as physical beings. I believe they now have the ability to travel through the Internet. They’re all over the blogosphere. Just the other day I was reading on Jezebel about how the wage gap has barely budged in years (wtf, America?) when I saw a bed bug crawl across a snap judgment photo of Michelle Obama. And what I’ve heard about the situation on the parenting message boards will shock you. Even in Park Slope! Ironically, the safest place on the Internet is the forums section over at bedbugger.com because they require that all of the posts and even the comments be individually encased in plastic.
Bed bugs may soon (perhaps already!) be able to travel simply as an idea. In fact, you may want to stop reading right now, drop this magazine and set it on fire. Oh no, I forgot that last night at 3 a.m., I read that fire only makes them stronger!
Yesterday, I admit, I let my defenses down and fell asleep in the middle of the day. In my dream, I had to battle a giant but invisible bed bug. I was about to hit it with my bedside lamp, when the armoire yelled for me to wake up. As I lay there in a cold sweat, I vowed that this would not get the best of me. I will get through this with good old-fashioned can-do spirit, optimism and a willingness to do whatever crazy thing it takes. I will sew tiny outfits so that when I do catch the bed bugs, I can dress them up and post their photo on cuteoverload.com (look at the nymph in the baby outfit!). I will encase all of my possessions in hermetically sealed plastic bags; I will spray poison directly onto my person. I will put kerosene on the bed frame. I am a New Yorker dammit! I have to do this for my family back home who think that I am living a life full of glamour and sophistication and for all of the people in the city, suffering in silence and shame, I have to do this for the armoire! ¡Muerte a los chinches!
Post Script: After a lot of soul-searching, the author has moved all of her possessions into a storage unit in New Jersey for an indefinite period of time. She is now living and working on self-sufficient kale farm in upstate New York, and through therapy and enrollment in an experimental PTSD program, she is reclaiming her sanity (although she still misses her armoire).