Night, night, sleep tight…

21 Jan

Last night, within five minutes of walking into my apartment building after landing on a flight from Chicago, I was standing in the building’s stairwell, stripped naked with my clothes in a pile. Ten minutes later, my mattress was turned on end and my bedding was on the floor.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re partially correct: it *was* an act of passion. However, the passion fueling these frenzied actions was less carnal and more corporal. You see, I just returned from a business trip during which two dozen itchy bites appeared all over my body while I slept. After hours of internet research, I’d made my diagnosis: bedbugs.

Let me back up. For someone else, the idea of bedbugs might not be traumatic. It might be a nuisance, but it wouldn’t overtake their every thought. Not for me. I’m what people kindly call “OCD” about housekeeping and I have a borderline phobia of bugs. (This must certainly disappoint my father, who is a retired biology teacher and ardent environmentalist.)

When I noticed the first bite on my torso, I thought nothing of it. When the second bump appeared, I got online and every Google Image result seemed to point to bedbugs. As soon as I identified them as the likely culprit, I freaked out for two reasons. First, within the last year I heard an episode of This American Life that gave me nightmares about bedbugs. Second, the word “infestation” appeared WAY too many times for comfort.

I might be a bit sensitive when it comes to infestations because in 2002 my condo was the accidental host to an infestation of carpet beetles. (I know, it sounds like I’m a filthy person, but I assure you I’m not… such are the joys of multi-unit dwellings and a hospitable southern climate.)

My run-in with the beetles ended up costing me thousands of dollars to resolve it to my satisfaction… I had every piece of fabric in my place laundered or dry cleaned, threw out four hefty bags of clothing and bought enough snap-top storage containers to ensure that I could keep my entire wardrobe (other than what is hanging on a rack) under plastic.

My actions were a bit extreme, but – to my credit – I haven’t since had a problem with carpet beetles, and exterminators will tell you that’s a pretty rare thing.

So I don’t do well with infestations. When I packed my bag yesterday morning, I became paranoid: were my bites local to the hotel, or had the bugs somehow laid eggs on my clothing and were hitching a ride with me? To be safe, I went to the CVS at 6am and bought a roll of freezer bags. I zipped every stitch of my clothing in the bags before packing them into my suitcase.

On my flight to DC, I mapped out my plan: get home, strip in the stairwell, put all clothes in the dryer for 90 minutes to kill anything potentially in them, strip my bed (in case somehow my building had a bedbug infestation that was the real cause behind this thing) and do a visual search of my mattress for the critters before washing everything that has touched my bed.

I probably should’ve warned my boyfriend about my obsession before landing. When my plane touched down and I exited the gate area, Alan was waiting, thinking he’d plant a kiss on me and whisk me off to open a bottle of wine and catch up on our week apart. Instead, thirty minutes later,  there we were, tossing my mattress, bundling bedding in plastic bags, pumping the dryer full of quarters and quarantining my suitcase.

The good news: I haven’t had a new bite appear in 24 hours, so I think I left this problem in Chicago. (Knock on wood!)

The great news: I’ve found someone who can see my OCD in full-tilt, and – instead of rolling his eyes – is willing to hop in and help me. In fact, it wasn’t until everything was in the wash and I said, “I don’t think I have anything to worry about,” that he confessed, “I actually never thought you did.”

And I suppose that’s the lesson here: There is a very fine line between passion (clothes on the floor) and obsession (bedding on the floor). If you love a woman with the former trait, it’s probably safe to assume that the latter is lurking just one bedbug away.

2 Responses to “Night, night, sleep tight…”

  1. Michele January 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Cute message in the end but you’ve got me itching like crazy! By the way I don’t think bed bugs are limited to just beds. I once met an attorney who deals with many bed bugs cases. So had they actually been in your apartment, while you were away I think they would have gone all over! Just a thought for next time!

  2. pithypants January 22, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Right? There’s something about even READING about bugs that makes you start scratching. BTW – your note about bed bugs being in my apartment = NOT REASSURING. Let the nightmares resume! 🙂

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