“Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.” I remember my Mother saying that to me as a child. As a kid, I thought bed bugs were a mythical creature to which my Mother referred as a way to strike a minor fear in me. She can be wicked that way. But, as I grew older and began to read more broadly, with a particular penchant for Medival and Renaissance literature and fantasy novels set in the same period, I recognized that bed bugs were an affliction of the unwashed masses of feudal Europe. Now, however, I know them to be the 11th Plague of the Bible...a new scourge unleashed by a newly reawakened Old Testament God who is warming up his powers of smiting after a 2,000 year lull.
My apartment, and those around me, have bed bugs. A couple of weeks ago, I started waking up with angry red bumps on various parts of my body. At first I thought perhaps an early riser spider had woken up and decided to come out for a little midnight snack. But, then, two weeks ago, before I left for New York, I noticed a sign posted on the apartment door next to mine, “Sprayed for Bed Bugs at 1pm, Do Not Re-Enter Apartment Before 5pm.” Considering the heinous red bump attacks occurred when I slept in my living room near the wall that separates my apartment from the sprayed apartment, I realized that it wasn't a friendly neighborhood brown recluse come out for a nibble, it was a vast horde of teeny Medival invaders come to suck me dry.
When I was in New York last week, I was clued into the fact that there is a bed bug epidemic going on. One poor woman had bed bugs in three different apartments. This morning, I ran into my old roommate, and he told me that in his old building in NE Minneapolis they had also had a bed bug infestation. The little critters have been slowly infiltrating our apartments and houses for years and no one said anything, now the stage is set for a massive frontal assault which could result in the collapse of the world as we know it. Soon, we may be all forced to trade in You for Ye and The for Thou. Sitting in coach will literally mean climbing into a wooden box on wheels behind randomly shitting horses. And when children start singing “ring around the rosies,” it will be because the Black Plague is rampaging through the Northside.
Tonight, I will spend my evening, before going to Ka Vang's fantastic book signing, prepping my apartment for chemical warfare. Tomorrow, the counter insurgency troops led by Terminex will release smart bombs in the hopes of beating back the assault on my western dry wall. But if bed bugs have managed to survive since a time when bathing was considered to be bad for your health, it may be only a battle won with the war already lost. Goeth Ye With God, I pray thee surviveth, the Bed Bugs cometh!