Hauling cast-offs from your neighbors’ trash is kind of like autoerotic asphyxiation:  It’s all fun and games until you’re well hung.

Oh yes, I’ve hung myself  well. Cimex lectularius, aka the bed bug, has taken hold of my home and lecturously clung to me, tying my noose in a rust colored bow. A creature smaller than a pencil top has wrecked my life emotionally, socially, and reduced me to semi -penury.



There are two things to do when you find you have a bedbug problem. First, tell everybody! Brag to your 1.5 friends that your previous state of having no blood relatives has been remedied by playing host to a growing family of consanguinious creatures. Your 1.5 friends may become .05 friends that are willing to touch you with a 10 ft. pole, but now you will have many bedfellows who find your society delicious.

The second thing is watch how you become as popular as a prostitute with mouth herpes on a Tuesday night. Watch as your friends inspect their domiciles as you wait with bated breath for the horror that your new family might have jumped  ship for tastier fare. You will begin to see your bug relatives in every speck of dust, feel them, and itch from them when they aren’t there. You begin to wish for a bolt of lightening to strike your apartment and incenerate your tiny family. Your new relations are about as well esteemed to you as  your Appalachian cousins, but unlike your cousins, your bed bug family won’t abandon you. Lucky you.


I began suspecting when I killed a tiny blood red critter  walking its merry way across my pillow. It’s a baby bed bug, I inwardly squealed. No, came my angry reply to the voice within, it’s a spider mite tracked in by one of my cats. I told my psych nurse about the sighting and she agreed with my surmise.

A few nights later, I saw another insect, chubby and waddling. That’s an odd looking cucarocha.

And then December 26. D Day. I saw a bug close enough for me to grab  and I captured it alive in a pill bottle.  Oh dear God, that sure looks like an unfed bed bug. The poor little thing couldn’t keep itself right side up and flailed about so pitifully I had to stop looking at it.

I drew a bath and stripped off, afterward using jackets to keep me warm  on the couch and benzos to lull me to sleep. It’s going to be a great new year.

Much of the next day I stayed on the couch, deep in the depression only suspecting bed bugs can do to you. You know no one will want to be around you anymore, that your life is over until your home is napalmed. I looked online for stories of losing friends due to bed bugs. Of course there’s stories of lost friends and one Yahoo Answers contributor answered to the fearful friend of a bed bug sufferer, “just get new friends, eww.”

I took my prisoner, who had croaked on its own accord to a nearby exterminator. I caught one of the guys towards quitting time, and he turned up the bottle, made a face, and replied, “yeah” when I asked if it was a bed bug. I promptly went to McDonald’s and ate two Big Macs.

What is worse than a bed bug problem, you might ask. OCD, bed bugs, and mingling your worst fears into that mix. I feared telling my landlady for fear of being evicted, because around this  time last year I was threatened with eviction. I feared telling my social worker for fear of losing the assistance  I get on my rent.

Both scenarios led to the same conclusion in my mind,the trifecta of  my worst fears, a game show called Rest Home, Homeless, or Dead. When  I mustered up enough courage to tell my social worker, she barely missed a beat, as it is a scourge to many. As for the landlady, I handled that in the most avoidant way possible. I waited until Friday  night and left a message on the answering machine for Monday morning: I just found a suspicious bug while changing my sheets. I’m afraid it might be a bed bug!Getting ready for the exterminators is an arduous task of washing, bagging, throwing excess stuff away, and pulling everything into the kitchen. I honestly didn’t have it completed the first time the exterminators came, but two weeks later I was ready. My cats and I went out  on the back stairs, me sitting in a fold out chair playing Dead or Alive Dimensions or messing on the PC.  In the aftermath, the place smelled of rubbing alcohol. Great, I get to pay 600.00 for rubbing alcohol.  Makes one want to start drinking.

Two weeks after my extermination and a few weeks into my exile from humanity, the main bed bug exterminator returned. He looked around and only found a few carcuses of  adult bed bugs . He said I had had a moderate infestation and only a couple had migrated to the couch on which I slept. Yay. HE FOUND NO SIGNS OF  BED BUGS ALIVE IN MY APARTMENT!!!! It will take me six months or more for me  to truly believe they’re gone, until then my house will become a powdered doughnut of diatamaceous earth. As for everything bagged up, I’m taking things out on a need only basis. I’m going to be living with what if for a long time.

A final word. Yes, keep diving retail dumpsters (carefully), but don’t take anything used from neighborhood trash can unless you can fumigate it, launder it, or heat it over 125 F . You may be fine for a long time, your whole house furnished by other people’s trash. Then some asshole throws away a working steamer, you take it, and SURPRISE! It’s a trojan horse full of bed bugs.