|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Bed Bug & Beyond|
This week, Jon Stewart sent up the New York bedbug epidemic (with a truly freaky-deaky appearance by Isabella Rossellini narrating the horror that is bedbug sex). The bedbug invasion has been lavishly covered in the press; long story short, they used to be commonplace, then people used tons of DDT and they went away, then we realized DDT was a Bad Idea and quit using it, so now they’re back. And unfortunately, these little nocturnal bloodsuckers have invaded two Harpy nests. Join Becky and PhDork as we tell our (not so) harrowing tale in this episode of Bedbug Confidential!
BeckySharper: Besides hanging out at our humble Brooklyn abodes, it turns out there are bedbugs at Elle magazine, Hachette Book Group (which publishes that other bloodsucker spectacular, the Twilight saga), at the Time-Warner offices, at hipster clothing stores in SoHo, at the AMC theater in Times Square. Bedbugs will rule the world!
PhDork: Yeah, this map makes it look like Midtown Manhattan is completely crawling with ’em. And these are just the places where they’ve been reported.
BeckySharper: I bet that map’s just the tip of the iceberg. You know plenty of folks don’t report them, either because of the social stigma, or because they are flying under the landlord’s radar and don’t want to get kicked out.
PhDork: Considering the horrible feeling of DOOM and TERROR during the first 3-4 days after we figured it out, it hasn’t been too bad. Although it’s extra frustrating that they seem to prefer to feed on women and girls. Assholes.
It’s been hugely inconvenient, mostly. Getting the cats out for hours at a time during/after spraying was a huge PITA, and living out of plastic bags after drying everything in brutal heat in the midst of the summer also sucks, but I didn’t get bit after we sprayed and ditched the box spring.
BeckySharper: I got bitten once or twice, and had the sneaking suspicion that might be bedbugs because this most recent go-round with the little bite-y bastards is my second. Eight years ago when I lived in Queens. I got all these bites on my back that both my primary care doc and dermatologist could not identify. I wound up getting a punch biopsy (ouch!) of the bites and the lab reported they were “unknown arthropod bites”. My bet is that if I showed up with the same symptoms today, the docs would be much more be much more likely to suspect bedbugs, because they’ve become so much more common.
That time, I got rid of the mattress and boxspring and that solved the problem. This time, I hired a bed-bug sniffing dog, a cute little 2-year old beagle bitch. She detected one bedbug hotspot—my boxspring—which was promptly treated and sheathed in a bedbug-proof casing. It was great to have the dog sniff out exactly where the bugs were so I knew I didn’t need to napalm my whole apartment, which is usually what’s recommended by exterminators. No bites since then.
When I started talking about this with neighbors in my building, several freely confessed to having had major to minor bedbug infestations over the past couple years, which made me feel better. I think it’s important to talk about this in a routine way—the social stigma is still huge.
PhDork: Stigma, yes, that’s been a problem, too. We know people who had bugs more than a year ago, and I understand the first “ugh, eep, oy” response. It’s visceral and it’s something you can’t see. But when you stop to think for half a second, and you know that those people are not wallowing in filth. And I sure as shootin’ know I’m not.
So it’s creepy, they’re bloodsuckers, yuck, but you get over it. It’s like any other vermin in a city. Where there are people, there will be narsty little critters. If you live in the country or woods, it’ll be field mice, or snakes or spiders, and if you live in the city, you’re going to find roaches and rats and yes, bedbugs. C’est la vie.
BeckySharper: I was at a party last weekend where one of the guests said she couldn’t bring herself to hug a friend who’d had bedbugs in his apartment this past spring. I mean, really. Get the fuck over it. I might not want that friend to show up dragging a suitcase full of clothes from a freshly infested apartment, but still…a hug freaks you out? The bugs don’t live on your person. They’re not going to pounce on anyone.
PhDork: Something I’ve seen lately that has me ENRAGED—I mean so beyond the hassle of keeping my panties in ziploc bags—is comments to online articles (on crap/generic sites, not on anything BB-specific or in the progressive blogosphere) about this new wave of ‘bugs and how it parallels the waves of migration of various assholes’ least favorite brown people, usually Muslims or Mexicans.
BeckySharper: Yes, and there’s a nasty racist/classist notion that you get bedbugs in cities because of all the dirty non-whites who live there. Presumably, bedbugs don’t bite Real Americans…although a recent top-10 list of the bedbuggiest cities in the US had four Midwestern cities in the top five (to be fair, other news outlets give that dubious honor to NYC). I’ve definitely had people tell me to my face that they’re not surprised I got them because I live in a non-white neighborhood.
The bedbug beagle’s handler told me that they have been to plenty of very fancy (white-owned) Manhattan hotels and co-ops, but they have to bring the dogs in under cover of night in blacked out little carrying kennels in an unmarked van. It’s like a Secret Service mission so the rich people don’t freak out, and so the rest of us can’t gloat. And I just read there’s a bedbug beagle on staff at Bergdorf’s!
What’s funny is that I’ve stayed in some real cheap-ass fleabag hotels overseas and never got bedbugs (or fleas or lice or crabs). I’m sort of amazed, actually.
PhDork: Me too. I am a poor-ass mofo, I nearly always stay in hostels, so if this were a class thing, I would have had them long long ago.
BeckySharper: Agreed. We will have to make sure the Harpy Retirement House is bedbug free. Maybe SarahMC can provide extra beagles.
Are you buggin’ too? Anyone else lived the bedbug nightmare? Feel free to share…