Bedbugs.  I just wince, when I think of them.  In fact a dizzy-broker-aggravation sets-in when I hear, “Bedbugs, lots and lots of flesh-eating bugs.”  It’s the same unsettling feeling I have every time I hear a clip of Rimsky- Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee.  There’s nothing romantic about it and it’s darn annoying. And, I don’t want to talk about bugs–symphonic, or not symphonic.

As a result, I’ve put off writing about this topic of BEDBUGS for some time. There’s just nothing sexy or fun about it—outside or between the sheets—regardless of the thread count (and whom of human-kind is sharing them with you!). But they’ve been around, in America, for some time—18th century, actually, and 100 years longer than Rimsky- Korsakov’s flesh-biting, annoying, little interlude.

So here I am, writing, like some publicist, who would rather be announcing a tour of The Beatles, instead of Bedbugs—coming to a city near you!  Don’t worry if you can’t afford the ticket—THEY’RE FREE!

These BUGS sure are popular…

Just yesterday, I read that New York’s first-class gym, Reebok Sports Club on Columbus Avenue is having some issues with the disgusting little critters.  Gross, I thought, another excuse for me not to go to the gym.  Now I can say, “No, I don’t work-out because I don’t want to bring bedbugs home!” And four years ago, I sold a Midtown-apartment, as pied-à-terre, to a very well-bred woman, who called me two years later: “Heather, we have bedbugs.  We are not dirty people…this doesn’t happen to ‘our kind of people.’” She was embarrassed—mortified, actually. I understood and expressed my sympathy, as a response (for which you’ll understand later on).

Sympathy, Symphony or whatever, that’s the thing about bedbugs, they shame us, like a 21st century Hester Prynne, with The Scarlet Letter(s) “BB,” making all of us no better nor cleaner than our neighbors, causing a new experience of humbleness.  And it doesn’t really matter how wealthy or educated you are, or if you live in a holierthanthou Taj Mahal or a tenement apartment, or happen to be his Holiness, the Dali Lama, your destiny with encountering bedbugs is evident…

Have I, brokering-blogger nouveau- philosopher experienced such creepy-crawler shame?  Well, kind of, but not in NYC.

When I was a kid, around five-years-old, my father had this big idea that he wanted to live in the country, so we moved to an isolated town called Fredericksburg with a population of four hundred.  We lived in a ranch home for awhile, which we rented, and it felt like a kingdom to me, surrounded by a lot of land. I thought the place was fantastic and I loved our little ranch home. Every day, after my mother pre-schooled me on the words of Dick and Jane, my brother, Stosh and I would run through the corn fields like we were the coolest kids in the world.  Fredericksburg and our ranch were pure bliss to us.  But then, I had to go to school, leaving Stosh to oversee the ranch.   

Fran Lebowitz once said, “I never met anyone who didn’t have a very smart child.”  She must’ve met my mother because my mother thought her children were geniuses. I remember when my mother took me to enroll for kindergarten; she told the nice country-man, who ran the little school that I was advanced—for Fredericksburg. She informed him that we weren’t like the other people in the town; we were from the big city of Cleveland.  As my mother went on about “Cleveland this” and “Cleveland that,” I could tell that he wasn’t really impressed by all her “big city” stuff because he looked as bored as I was. Then he interrupted my mother, telling her that he needed to inspect my reading ability.  For this inspection, he handed me a National Geographic, and in front of my mother, he told me, “Read it.” I opened it up, and it was no Dick and Jane book: It had a lot of dark-skinned people with no clothes on, which I was shocked by, and the words, well, they weren’t exactly “See Spot run.” I was in over my head.  I looked-up at my mom, hoping to get some guidance, but she just smiled at me, and then said, “Go ahead, read it.”  Honestly, I didn’t know all of those advanced words, so I did what any kid would do; I pretended to read to them. They listened, as I read out loud about how all the people lost their clothes in a corn field and because they didn’t have clothes anymore, the sun had turned their skin brown.  After I read, the inspector told my mother, “By golly, she is advanced!”  My mother was very proud, and said, “I know. I told you!” 

I went to school and I read a lot of Dick and Jane to my classmates, like a real big city kid who wore flashy clothes—a Fonzie t-shirt, displaying “Ayyyyyyy!” School was grand and I was a super-star, becoming more protective of my classmates, who were Amish. Then one day, our kindergarten teacher told us that everyone had to be inspected and we would be called one-by-one to go to the office for the inspection.  My classmates were scared.  I gathered all of my Amish friends over to my secret corner, behind a dollhouse, and whispered to them, “I’ve been inspected before and it’s nothing to be afraid of.”  I also warned them that they would be shocked by the pictures they were going to see.  I had prepared them and they sure were thankful to me—the big city kid who read Dick and Jane to them. But I could tell they were still scared and I thought, that it was probably because of those pictures, so I told them, “I’ll go first and report back to you.” They felt relieved.  I was hero to those sweet kids.

Once I got to the office, there was a different inspector: a woman with gloves on, holding a box of toothpicks.  She told me, “Take a seat,” and I did.  I asked her if she wanted me to read her something—for the inspection.  She said, “Honey, there’s no reading for this.” I was surprised by this, and then, I became worried for my Amish friends because I hadn’t prepared them at all–for this inspection.  As I worried, the woman inspected my hair, parting it strand by strand with toothpicks.  It was the easiest inspection that I had ever had, and I was no longer worried about my innocent little friends.  I was certain that they’d do just fine for this inspection; all they had to do was sit!  When my inspection was over, the inspector-woman told me, “Go sit in the other room—the one with the National Geographics in it.” 

Sitting in the other room, looking at all of the nicely stacked, advanced books around, I was feeling good.  I thought, I must’ve passed the inspection, and maybe, they were giving me a reward—my very own National Geographic!  I sure did want one of those advanced books to keep on my ranch. But then, I heard a lot of laughing, coming from the other room.  I overheard the woman-inspector tell the nice country-man-inspector, “Big City or not—that girl has head lice—just like all of the other country bumpkins!”  I didn’t know what head lice were, but I knew that they weren’t good and that my mother wasn’t going to be proud of me for having them—even if they were advanced, which they were.  (We moved.)


The moral of this post:  We ALL—dirty, clean, rich or poor have to deal with BUGS, including those famous biters who love our sheets–poly-blend or Egyptian-cotton.


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