I am not a squeamish kind of person when it comes to bugs. Really, I’m not. I never have been. Well except for those big, black water bugs that inhabited my childhood home. Gosh, I hated those things. When you stepped on them they squished out their white, oozy filling which made an even nastier mess to clean up. I remember we girls, who were in charge of Saturday House Cleaning (very unfair), would wax the linoleum floors with a wax that was guaranteed to Leave a Beautiful Shine AND Kill All Bugs — it probably would have done a fairly good job of killing us, too, if we had used it long enough. On Saturday nights, floors shiny with that deadly wax, I’d sit on the couch keeping one eye on the TV and the other watching those enemy-bugs of mine sneak out of their hiding places and, start their fateful journey across the floor. It was amazing, and a wee bit sinister to watch them as they struggled across that toxic-shine. I never warned them just waited until they eventually went belly up. The makers of the deadly wax did not mention that you still had to sweep up dead carcasses — you’d think those bugs would have just disintegrated from all those toxins. I haven’t encountered another water bug since which is probably a good thing with all that bad karma floating around. I’d hate to think of what kind of revenge their ancestors would take on me.
I should have said that bugs don’t bother me all that much as long as there are not too many, and, they are not too big and, and they don’t fall from the ceiling like the cockroaches did in my apartment in DC. And, most importantly, THEY ARE NOT ON MY BED! I can take fur-shedding, sharp-clawed, litter-using cats in my bed, but not a bug. No, no, no. That’s why I freaked, I mean really freaked, this week when I saw that itty bitty shiny black-shelled bug ON MY BED. My “Ooo, ooo, oos.” brought Nick out from
under the covers to investigate what the hell was going on. The bug just sat there while Nick sniffed around it and then, very calmly, ate the thing and went back under the covers to continue his 18-hour nap. Now how would I know whether it was part of a colony of The Dreaded Bed Bugs taking up residence in my too-old mattress or just a Bug on the Bed?
I’ve never met a bed bug anywhere, anyhow, anyhoo. That is truly amazing considering some of the questionable hovels where the money-minded (read Very Cheap) Ex-Ex insisted we stay for what he called their “local charm” — interesting, maybe; sinister, sometimes; but charming?, never. So I wouldn’t recognize a real bed bug if I saw one. And, now that Nick had eaten the specimen, I had nothing to compare my Bug on the Bed with the Google image. I read one time that bed bugs are just about anywhere. They ride the subway and streetcar, they go to movie theaters and hang out in libraries tucking themselves into the spines of books. I looked at my stack of library books beside the bed suspiciously. Could that little black, now-digested-by-Nick bug have been reading the same Anne Perry book that I was?
I started to itch.
I knew I’d never sleep in that bed again unless I stripped the whole thing and excavated every crease and bend and potential bed bug hiding place to see if they were there practicing drills to nibble my body later that night. From my Google research, I knew they could be sneaky little bastards and worm their way into the teeny-tiniest little crevice. So I drug that old, broken, heavy, why-don’t-you-buy-a-new-one vacuum cleaner up the stairs and cleaned every little bit of that mattress and box springs and floors and walls and library books. It was a good thing Nick had moved or he would have been vacuumed too. There was nothing, not one little anything that looked like a bug.
For insurance, I packed all the schmatas from the bed, put them in my old-lady cart and headed for the laundromat to scald out any lingering possibilities that those little critters might just have hopped out of that mattress at the first roar of the vacuum and were now hiding in those stripped off sheets. Feeling smug and folding the last of it, I saw this young woman with an enormous amount of laundry. In my friendly, neighbourly, we-are-in-this-together mood, I commented on her suitcases and boxes and bags full of clothes. She said, “It’s everything we own. We had an “unpleasant” surprise at home.” She mouthed the words Bed Bugs. “The exterminator is coming tomorrow.” I discretely moved my cart away from her and her piles of still unwashed clothes.
The itching came back.