Monday, August 06, 2007

Buggin' Out, or Perspective

Perhaps I am paying for slamming "Harry Potter;" perhaps the Gods are punishing me for a more pedestrian infraction of the Writer's Rules. I don't know for sure, but it is certain that my home has bedbugs and if my life isn't a living hell, I can feel Hades' flames licking at my backside.

In terms of annoyance, bedbugs are in a whole different league than roaches, ants, termites, fleas or even mosquitoes. They bite, drink your blood, and reproduce like otters. Once they get into your home, it requires drastic measures to rid them.

Like, for instance, the following regimen, which Wife, Baby, and myself must follow for the next month:

1. All clothing cleaned and put in plastic bags. Do not put back in drawers, or risk having a bug lodge in your underwear and then lodge somewhere much more unfortunate.
2. Vacuum every square inch of apartment, including baseboards, floor cracks, ass cracks (see above), shoes, books. Yes, books are a great hiding place for these bugs. Pack your books, put them in storage, and say goodbye to them for 18 months.
3. Treat all luggage and furniture with a chemical solution of 60 rubbing alcohol and 40 percent flesh-eating acid. Bag everything. I mean, everything.
4. Move all furniture at least 12 inches from wall, and wait for exterminators to bomb the place.
5. Once bombed, stay out of apartment for 48 hours. I intend to spend those 48 hours at a brothel.
6. Once you return, vacuum every square inch of apartment, including baseboards, floor cracks, and shoes, every single day for a month.
7. Spray chemical solution in baseboards every four days and pray that none of it makes contact with skin.
8. Repeat exterminator treatment. Pray that all the bedbugs are dead. Pray, pray, pray.

Wife and Baby are moving out of the apartment entirely for three weeks while yours truly serves as human bait — the exterminator wants me living in the apartment to draw out the bedbugs so they'll get to the poison.

Meanwhile, every day is the same: come home from work, eat dinner, then vacuum, spray, and bag until bedtime. Vacuum, spray, bag. We've moved all our books out of our place (sob!) and are cleaning like mad.

See the movie, live the life

The most surefire way to rid yourself of these pests is to throw away all your clothes and bedding (in plastic bags), buy new clothes, and move out for 18 months. You see, bedbugs can live over a year without food.

In short, I am quickly losing my mind, and things are likely to worsen until mid-2015.

And yet, against my nature, I'm trying to be positive. When I start to feel sorry for myself (about every five minutes), I try to count my blessings. I'm not a refugee, I'm not homeless, and I am in good health with a wife and son who I adore. My woes are about bugs and my lack of publishing credits.

And I didn't suffer the same fate as Dan.

Dan and I were co-workers back in the late 1980s. We weren't close friends but were on good terms, and I admired him quite a bit: Dan was extremely talented, outgoing, smart, funny, and a good guy overall. Someone that makes you feel at ease and goes out of his way to talk to you. It was my first job out of college, and Dan made me feel welcome. He was a real mench.

Befitting his talent, two years after I started work Dan got a major promotion with out-of-town company, and moved to the East Coast with his fiancée, a research doctor who was gorgeous and sweet to boot.

Soon, they were married, and a year or so later, Dan's wife was pregnant. In short, Dan had everything I wanted: a beautiful wife, a job I coveted, financial security, and a family on the way. He even had moved out of my cowpoke town, where I felt stuck, to a big city.

You probably have a rough idea of what happened next. A few months after his wife became pregnant, Dan started getting mysterious headaches — it turned out to be brain cancer. While his prognosis appeared good at first following surgery, the cancer spread, and he died a few years later, leaving his wife and child. He fought it to the end.

Dan was 33 years old.

On the other hand, I have to deal with bedbugs, which, the last time I checked, are annoying but not life-threatening.

I'll stop here.