Sleep Tight.

From the Vault: Fridays were Improv Friday at Said Panties, which meant we asked for a topic from our “fans” and then set to work writing about it. This topic was bedbugs (originally posted in September 2010).I was warned of many things when I moved to New York City: the crime, the cost, the cynicism. It seems like everyone I talked to had at least one caveat about a newcomer in the big city.

One thing I wasn’t warned about? Bedbugs.

Well, I suppose that’s not true. I’ve actually been warned about bed bugs ever since I can remember. “Sleep tight! Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” And up until last fall, I actually believed it was just a saying. In my mind, bedbugs were goofy-looking and cute, a friendly neon green in color, and they wore shoes. (I don’t know why, I was four. Get off me.) Remember that game “Cooties”? I figured the Bedbugs might be their wacky distant cousins who get a little feisty when they drink.

Somehow I went on believing this, all throughout my formative years. Even when I moved to Los Angeles, I never heard any cases of bedbugs being real. For all I knew, “bedbugs” were right up there with the boogeyman and monsters in the closet — fictional creatures meant to terrify children into doing as their parents bid them to. Little did I know bedbugs are living, breathing mini-monsters, repopulating New York City faster than Pinkberry knockoffs. Spoo-fuckin’-ooky.

I have looked up bedbugs on Wikipedia before, back when I first heard about them, so I could be sure what I was up against. I’m not going to look them up again, because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s bruschetta, and if there’s another thing, it’s the enlarged image of a microscopic demon that intends to crawl all over me and suck my blood while I sleep.

I don’t intend to subject my readers to pictures of bedbugs or their nighttime handiwork on the flesh of unsuspecting victims. But imagine my surprise while I was riding the subway one day last October, and I saw an advertisement for how to get rid of them. “Call now for professional help!”

“What?” I wondered aloud, as if I’d spotted an ad for a device that allows you to capture the Tooth Fairy or kick Sasquatch out of your bed. “Those things are real?”

Oh, they’re real, all right. And in the months since I’ve moved here, they’ve popped up in a number of disturbing locations, such as AMC theaters and Victoria’s Secret. (I guess we know your secret, now, Vicky. Yes, your bedbug infestation is probably something you should keep on the DL.) Reportedly bedbugs have also hit Abercrombie & Fitch — but I don’t know. Those bites could really have come from anything, given all the time those people spend rolling around naked in fields and in the woods.

(Not so sexy now, is it?)

Nevertheless, bedbugs are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s only getting worse. As if the muggings, high cost of living, and bitchy New York attitude are not bad enough, now I have bedbugs to contend with! Suddenly this article is looking truer and truer by the minute.

I am petrified. Getting rid of bedbugs can take weeks and thousands of dollars. Some people find it easier to just burn everything they own and move! I was in that AMC theater just one week before it was closed for bedbugs, and now I am never going back, because you just never know when they’ll pop back up. [Editor’s Note: I went back frequently.] Did you know bedbugs can survive up to 18 months without eating? They’re like supermodels! But unlike that much more attractive brand of parasite, when a bedbug feeds off you and then skitters off in the morning, you actually do wish you’d kicked them out of bed.

Yes, bedbugs have been deemed the single most formidable pest in America, meaning they’re harder to get rid of than your pseudo-stalker ex-boyfriend, and just as resilient when sprayed with pesticides. They hide under rugs, in clothing, under the couch, waiting for you to fall asleep — just like your average slasher in a bad 80’s movie — and, just when you think you’ve finally killed them, they’re bound to pop up for one final scare. (And a sequel.) They lay their terrifying eggs all over the place and don’t even have the decency to die for over a year. My research tells me travel is the easiest way to pick up bedbugs, which is the first time I’ve been happy to be too poor to go anywhere. Bedbugs also enjoy hitching a ride on our bodies, which is how they’re getting into our favorite stores, offices, and places of leisure. I don’t know about you, but I never wanted to be a bus driver. So I certainly don’t want to be shuttling around bedbugs. Not unless they each pay me $89 a month for unlimited rides, at least.

It’s been quite some time since I shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch, and I suppose there was a time in my life when I would have been mildly pleased to know that blood-sucking parasites had invaded the place. (Hint: high school.) But that time is long past. Outbreaks at Abercrombie, Hollister, and Victoria’s Secret mean these critters could soon find their way to stores I actually like. And don’t even get me started on the movie theaters! I cannot bring myself to return to the AMC in Times Square, but can I feel safe in any theater, ever again? If I ever needed another reason to avoid the multiplex and only see arthouse cinema, now’s the time.

Oh, and today, we learn that Google’s Chelsea offices have been infested with bedbugs, which is ironic because to research this post I typed “bedbugs” into Google. Am I responsible for this?

I’m convinced that we haven’t seen the last of bedbugs. This is just the beginning — soon, they’ll take over the world, like in that movie Mimic where Mira Sorvino creates cockroaches that haunt the subways looking like child molesters in big coats and hats. They’re already seeing Inception, trying on panties, and checking out that shirtless A&F model at the front of the store, thinking, “Boy, doesn’t he look yummy.” Just like the rest of us. They’re Googling, for Christ’s sake! What’s next? Will they be texting? “Just bit this fat bitch LOL!” Will I have to compete with them for taxis and seats on the subway? Will they demand marriage equality? I am already approached by a number of human beings who want to suck on me while I slumber, now I must stave off bedbugs, too? Sleeping tight won’t cut it anymore — now we need to see movies tight, and shop tight. I don’t even know how to sleep tight! But you can bet I’m gonna figure it out, pronto.

Who’s to blame? Well, here’s a twist: how about M. Night Shyamalan? I think he saw this coming, and in the laughable trailer for his last movie — ostensibly about the devil, but that seems like a stretch — he tried to warn us. Someone in this elevator has bedbugs!! Am I right?

“Everything happens for a reason,” they say. But I can think of no use on this Earth for bedbugs, except to creep me the fuck out.

Sleeping regrettably loose,

X.

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