According to the Internet - and I accept everything the Internet tells me without question, because the Internet brooks no dissent - mankind is facing the nightmarish resurgence of one of our oldest, most ancient foes: the formidable Cimex lectularius.
What is this Cimex lectularius, you ask? An evil Italian robot heck bent on cornering the global spaghetti-sauce market and charging us up the proverbial backside for our precious Ragu? Of course not. A scary-sounding name I made up to sound smart and creative? I wish. Cimex lectularius is actually a tiny, bloodsucking devil known colloquially as the "bedbug" - and Cimex lectularius has returned to mattresses across the land with a vengeance.
Indeed, the bedbug problem has grown so severe that the Environmental Protection Agency (known colloquially as the "FCC") recently held a "bedbug summit," ostensibly to figure out how to eradicate the pests. I think the worst of everyone, so I assume the real goal of this gathering was for Environmental Protection Agency officials to spend a few days at a fancy (meaning bedbug-free) hotel on the taxpayer's dime. But still - that they called their unethical retreat a bedbug summit speaks to the size of humanity's predicament.
Alas, my interest in the bedbug's return to relevance isn't merely clinical. I didn't learn a bunch of fun bedbug facts as part of a school project, and I'm not a hopeless nerd who considers studying insects fun or worthwhile. No, my interest in bedbugs is personal. That's right - bedbugs have taken up residence in the apartment building I call home during the school year (in a bedbug-ridden Midwestern metropolis), and they've developed a taste for my pristine blood.
In fact, my tiny nemeses gorged themselves on my pristine blood for several weeks before I realized I was under attack. How is that possible, you ask? Do I live in such squalor that I fail to notice when a new species of pest has not only taken up residence in my filth-encrusted, pungent abode, but is spending its evenings piercing my skin with its tube-like mouth parts, injecting me with its anesthetic-and-anticoagulant-laced saliva, and drinking my pristine blood by what I'll call the pint, even though I don't know what a pint is? Yes.
But my refusal to clean up after myself doesn't explain why I failed to realize I was under attack for several weeks. I failed to realize I was under attack for several weeks because I didn't want to realize I was under attack. Sure, I woke up every morning covered in itchy, inexplicable red welts, but I refused to ponder their origins. I told myself that pondering the origins of stuff is for busybody intellectuals who don't know what's good for them, and then I got on with my itchy, miserable day.
But when I spotted a reddish-brown insect scuttling across my sheets one night as I read in bed, the truth crashed over me like a wave of liquid truth. My first plan was to capture the bug, place it in a Ziploc-brand resealable plastic bag, and deliver it to a local laboratory, where professionals could examine and properly identify it. My second plan was to crush the little monster into an unrecognizable paste with my bare fists while weeping freely, fill my bathtub with a hot water/bleach/ammonia solution, soak all of my bedding in said solution, and spend the rest of the night lying on the floor in the fetal position and sucking my thumb.
After much soul searching, I went with the second plan - and, in the process of deconstructing my bed, discovered tens of additional bugs. The next day, I purchased a two-gallon jug of The Cheapest, Most Toxic Insecticide Sold at Target (that's the brand name: "The Cheapest, Most Toxic Insecticide Sold at Target") and proceeded to fumigate my apartment.
In fact, I've fumigated my apartment every day since, keeping the windows securely closed so as to create an environment entirely inhospitable to life. And while my efforts haven't had any noticeable effect on the bedbugs (I learned belatedly that they're immune to almost all legally available insecticides), the constant exposure to poison has destroyed my senses of smell, taste, and touch - which means, of course, that my itchy, inexplicable red welts no longer itch. So while the local bedbug population still treats me like an all-you-can-eat buffet, I don't care anymore. And not caring, it turns out, is the most effective solution of all.
Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.