new york city is being overtaken by bedbugs. we all know this. in fact, the entire country seems to be, with 3 cities in ohio ranking in the top 10 for per capita infestations. you can't walk a half a block without having to carefully maneuver around abandoned mattresses speckled with telltale flecks of sleeping victims blood. can't step on the subway without having to see bedbugs in advertisements blown up to the size of your head. bedbugs are the new ever-present monsters of the city now. the new roaches. the new muggers.
everyone knows multiple people who have them. everyone is in fear. but it's now a group problem that is met with empathetic sympathy.
this wasn't the case four years ago when i had one of the worst infestations i've heard of. it was august, and i was wearing long sleeve shirts in an attempt to cover up my nasty devoured arms. bite on the eyelid? just leave the sunglasses on all day! bedbugs were something kept very secret. no one wanted to know you had them. and no one wanted to know you if you had them. oh, and have them i did. the elderly lady who lived downstairs worked as a maid at a 5-star that had to close down five floors for bedbug extermination. it seems the infested carpets and furniture were just too tempting to pass up, and she decided she'd hoard them in our basement. it took over TEN visits from the exterminators, complete decimation of any semblance of normalcy in my apartment and the development of full post-traumatic stress disorder before i learned of this key fact. she's lucky our building didn't turn into a riot mob and come to her in the middle of the night with pitchforks and torches. we probably would have, if we hadn't been so damn tired. in a turn of events baffling and SO unfair, her apartment was one of only two in the building that was not infested. you can read my delirious reports here and here.
but all of this preamble to merely report a silly memory: during our many exhaustive exterminations, i quickly entered the phone number of the extermination company into my phone as 'BEDBUGS'. seemed simple, straightforward. first thing that popped into my head. but sometimes when my phone would ring, sleep deprived and on edge as i was, it would be very startling to look on my cell display and see the words BEDBUGS CALLING. you can run. but you can't hide. they're even calling on the damn phone!