Monday, March 31, 2008

Bed Bug Bite

I just turned on the news a minute ago and wondered why there weren't news flashes regarding when -- and perhaps where -- people are turning on the news. Sometimes it is a slow news week, and there's not much to read in Newsweek, so maybe this could take up some space. I think that's how Neptune got there...

What I am really wondering, though, is how bed bugs got their reputation. Don't worry, there is no need to inspect your bed spread, although I heard the spread does improve the taste of toast. But I've been thinking for at least 32 seconds about the history of bed bugs and why they are among the most feared creatures in the world, and possibly in the universe, assuming that other worlds have beds. Think about it. We don't tell people, "Don't let the rabid dogs bite" or "Don't let the spiders bite" unless we're in the White House, in which case all warnings are figurative anyway. Everywhere else the line a person hears before sleeping is "Don't let the bed bugs bite," as if bed bugs are worse than the nightmare the person will likely have anyway...

I feel sorry for that sucker who was actually bitten by a bed bug, because he can't shrug off the warning like the rest of us can. In fact, he's the reason we use the statement to begin with:

Victim: Well, I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

Victim's Acquaintance: Be careful in there. You remember what happened the last time you went to bed, right?

Victim: Yeah, yeah, I remember.

Victim's Acquaintance: Well, don't let the bed bugs bite. Not again.

I just hope there's no worldwide phenomenon of people being bitten by all kinds of animals while sleeping, because that's just too many things to list while wishing someone a good night. And just imagine if a person was bitten by a sheep while sleeping. That would throw the whole sleeping process for such a complete loop that we'd all probably just stay awake forever. Think about how stale the Fruit Loops would get...

In between the previous paragraph and this one I decided to take a few minutes to do some research. After all, research can save lives, and the typical reader checks out this column to have his or her life saved -- or maybe it's to read about lime Life Savers. Regardless, I've read that bed bugs are commonly found in homes that have bats in the attic. Now, I know what you're thinking: "That's good to know. I'll go to the attic right away to get rid of those darn bats." But don't act so quickly! Remember: those bats are protecting your old boxes, including your Yahtzee game. So slow down and think before you do something you'll regret in a day or two...

It is said that a room with bed bugs typically has a distinct odor. Furthermore, black spots may be found on sheets, or there may even be small blood stains that are evident. So before you blame your crazy aunt for coming over to your house and leaving a trail of her own blood, understand that she probably never made it past the attic after her entrance through the chimney. The same applies to Santa Claus, I'd imagine...

Since bed bugs are nocturnal, they hide in dark places during the day before feeding at night. Placing glow-sticks all over your house, so that there is no dark crevice, will assure that these creatures will seek a house more conducive to their ways, although this other house is probably not nearly as well-decorated. Realize that bed bugs feed on wild birds, in addition to domestic animals, bats, and humans. So pretending to be a wild bird all day isn't your best escape, unless you are a wild bird, in which case it's good you aren't afraid to be yourself. And I thank you, wild bird, for reading...

Bed bugs are most commonly found in old rooms and hotels, as well as in places which are considered unsanitary. Something tells me, though, that if you are living somewhere unsanitary, you have other issues besides bed bugs, such as the fact that you are sleeping in your own filth. This aside, the best way to not let the bed bugs bite, wherever you live, seems to be ignoring their existence. When they hear, "Don't let the bed bugs bite," their obvious reaction will be one of the following:

a) Hey, they're acknowledging us, but in a negative way. Let's go do some serious biting.

b) I hope no one has caught on to our Yahtzee fetish in the attic, especially those darn bats.

So by not giving the warning, and using some other bedtime greeting instead, you're saving yourself in the process. You see, the purpose of this column is not to stop you from getting a good night's sleep, because we all know that's what fire trucks and crickets are for. Instead, please take this column as a warning that bed bugs do exist, and you know what? They're a lot like news flashes. That's right -- they come when you're watching late-night television, and they leave you with an empty feeling after they take some of your blood. Yes, exactly like news flashes, yes...

But I digress.

Greg Gagliardi is a teacher and writer. His stream-of-consciousness weekly humor column, "Progressive Revelations," has been ongoing since 1998. ()

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