Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OMG Bedbugs!

Nobody likes bedbugs. They are the stuff of nursery rhyme legend: a thoroughly disgusting, flesh-eating, itch-inducing, hard-to-kill insect of our nightmares. And, unfortunately, none of that is going to change any time soon.

The facts are this: bedbugs are difficult to kill, easy to spread, and they breed with surprising intensity. Their reign of bitey terror continues to grow every day. And so, if you live anywhere other than an isolated colony of scientists on the southern-most tip of Antarctica, chances are, you are at risks of getting bed bugs.

Yes, you are.

I know, this might seem upsetting. But it isn’t the end of the world. At the very least, you’re not alone. Because everyone who lives anywhere in the vicinity of another human being has at least a moderate risk of catching bedbugs. Including your coworkers, clients, sister-in-law, and that guy sitting right beside you...!

But do not recoil in terror. Do not be afraid. Do not live your life inside a haz-mat suit. We’re all in this together.

There are a few things you can do. Educate yourself. Know what bed bugs look like, what their bites look like, and what you’ll have to do if you find one in your home. Read about prevention and your best options for cure. Start petitioning for their return of DDT, if that makes you happy. Live your life.
But no matter what you do, accept that their is always going to be a chance of catching bedbugs and bringing them home. Because there always is. No matter what.

If you continue to live, work, or occasionally brush up against even a single other human being, then there is always going to be some risk of you catching bed bugs. No matter how much you don’t want to, and no matter how much the thought of bed bugs make you want to cry.

You are at risk.

Yes, you are.

“But I don’t want to get bed bugs!”

...Bed bugs do not care about your wishes or dreams. They only want your blood.

“But bed bugs are icky!”

...Yes, yes they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that you, and everyone you know, either have bedbugs already or remain at risk of getting bedbugs in the future. It’s just the way it is.

“ icky!”

...I sympathize. I really do. But no matter how disgusting you feel that bedbugs may be, it doesn’t change the fact that you may have to deal with them on a very intimate level. As in, they will hide in your bed and feast upon your body as you sleep. I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is.

“What if I just avoid people who look like they might have bedbugs?”

...Bedbugs do not have a ‘type.’ Although they commonly live overcrowded urban ghettos, they also live in swanky hotels, cruise-ship cabins, and isolated country cottages. They are everywhere, near everyone.

Discrimination is a nasty human habit that’s almost always fueled by intense fear. Don’t let your fear of tiny insects overthrow your humanity. You’re better than that.

“Maybe I’ll just strip off my work clothes before coming inside my house, and put moth balls in my closet, and spray everything I touch with radioactive bleach?”

...Prevention isn’t a bad thing. But all it does is lower your risk. And unless you live in total isolation for the rest of your earthly life, you’ll always have at least a slight risk of getting bedbugs. No amount of moth balls or public nudity can guarantee you a life that is bedbug free.

“I heard my coworker’s husband’s sister’s apartment building has bedbugs! Oh my god!”

...YES. Your coworker’s husband’s sister’s apartment building has bedbugs. EVERYWHERE has bedbugs. And everyone, from the strangest stranger, to your coworker’s husband’s sister, to You, will continue to either have bedbugs or be at risk. Everyone. Everywhere. No matter what.

“Why must you be so depressing and snarky?”

...I don’t mean to be, although perhaps I’m intrinsically a depressing and snarky person. It’s been said before.

But actually, the message I’m trying to convey is not one that’s terrible bad. Because, if you accept that bedbugs are everywhere, and always will be, no matter what you do or how icky they may be, then you are left with a choice: you can either live every second of every day in anticipation, horror, and skin-crawling fear, or you can not. And if we all accept the bedbug problem as what it is - a constant, universal, and really gross threat - then we can all push it to the back of our minds of get on with our lives.

Because, really, they’re just annoying. They won’t kill you. Unlike cancer, which you might have.