A couple weeks ago, I got an email no one wants to get. Another woman from the comedy tour I'm on has bed bugs. We've all been sharing close quarters in the past two months, crammed into rental cars and crashing on the air mattresses of gracious relatives up and down the east coast. It's possible we've all been exposed. She assured us she was taking all the necessary steps to eradicate the infestation, but warned us to on be on the lookout for hitchhikers (not the murderer kind, the much worse insect kind).
Just reading the words on my iPhone made me itch. I felt phantom creepy crawlies all over for days. I started waking up in the middle of the night, jumping out of bed and inspecting my sheets and pillows. I found nothing. I still couldn't sleep. This is not like me. I am the heavy weight champion of sleeping. After one particularly fretful night, I decided to get an inspection. For of peace mind, I told myself as I shelled out $125. But there was no peace of mind for me. The exterminator found the telltale sign of a new infestation on my box spring: feces. Bed bug feces.
If you are like me, you have heard the horror stories about bed bugs. If you are really like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about them. To put your mind at ease, I want to share with you my experiences with bed bugs so you know what to expect if you ever find yourself infested (and don't worry, you will).
1. You treat and bag every single object in your home. Cloth items go in the dryer on high for 45 minutes or get dry cleaned. Non-cloth items get spritzed with rubbing alcohol. Once treated, you bag everything in heavy duty trash bags sealed with duct tape.
2. You live out a trash bag in your kitchen for two weeks. That's how long the extermination process takes. One spray for the live bugs then again two weeks later for any who may have hatched in the interim.
3. You return to that laundromat on your corner that you swore to never go into again after 'the incident.' * Now that you have to lug every single piece of clothing and bedding going to your new laundromat three blocks away is out of the question.
* The time you brought in all your underwear to be re-washed because the wash & fold ladies dried them with a dryer sheet even though you specifically told them dryer sheets give you yeast infections. They got pissed at you, called you a liar and wouldn't give you the bag when you came to pick it up so you sorta kinda ended up stealing your underwear back from them which kinda sorta resulted in a slow moving foot chase. But that was, like, eight months ago. They probably won't even remember you.**
** They remember you.
4. People keep asking you if bed bugs can live in your hair (you take this as partial complement to your long, thick, all-around awesome hair) so you google it. The internet reassures you bed bugs can't bite skin covered in hair hence the common occurrence of facial bites. Whew!
5. You essentially move in with your new boyfriend. You spend the first night cohabiting manically cleaning his room while vacillating between sobbing fits and rants on 'when was the last fucking time you cleaned in here?' and 'did I seriously just find ANOTHER bra behind your dresser?' Feel kind of guilty about all the ranting because he is, after all, the only person insane and merciful enough to offer you a place to stay. Promise to make it up to him with some hot sex the next night, but get very drunk instead and pass out with your hand in a bag of chips.
6. You nearly lose your shit on your nosey coworker who points out you are looking even more disheveled than usual. Your cheap catering tux jacket didn't hold up so well in the 45 minute dryer treatment. Consider it a point of pride you resist your urge to scream, "Bitch, I'm living out of a god damn trash bag, what the fuck do you want from me?'
7. In the middle of the night, you conclude your wooden dresser is the definitely the Hilton Bed Bug and decide to drag it by yourself down three flights of stairs. Realize halfway down you grossly underestimated the weight of the dresser. Just then, your landlord sticks his head out his door to ask, 'What the hell are you doing?'
'Help me,' you say, 'It's too heavy for just me.'
'I have a bad back,' he replies and shuts his door.
The next morning your downstairs neighbor stops you in the hallway and asks, 'Did you hear that crazy woman cursing and throwing things outside last night?'
'Oh,' you reply, 'that was me.'
8. You go on a spree buying Rubbermaid bins on Amazon to replace your dresser. Rush through checkout and have everything shipped to your parents' house. Is this the 'poor attention to details' your boss mentioned in that rough 6 month review? Nah. Fuck her.
9. You feel creepy crawly constantly, but know it's all in your head. Except no, actually, it isn't at all. Turns out, your boyfriend's dog has fleas and they are biting the shit out of you. This leads you to a develop a new theory: Wherever You Go Bugs Feast on Your Blood.
10. You call your mom uncontrollably sobbing from Penn Station insisting that she has to come get your right now. No, not in couple hours after her therapy appointment. Right. Now.
I hope this guide will serve you well in the future when you are dealing with your very own infestation.
Goodnight and good fucking luck.