A couple things about mosquito nets: first off, they aren’t nearly as romantic as they look in movies where tropical lovers languish on white sheets veiled by the soft focus of the gently draping white net. And secondly, they work a lot better if the vile insects are trapped on the outside of the net …er, instead of the inside.
Mosquitoes love me ; the feeling is not mutual. Every evening around twilight I begin scratching at a new crop of bites. This is my own fault. A constant battle wages within me: do I put on enough repellent to ward off the blood-thirsty beasts, which means poisoning my bloodstream with DEET; or do I risk the chance that one of these days, one of these mosquitoes might poison my bloodstream with malaria, or something equally as bad. I can never decide which is worse, and in the meantime, do nothing. Last night this approach backfired, as it does nearly every night.
Normally we keep the bedroom as cold as a meat locker; mosquitoes don’t like the cold, but evidently in doing so we have used up all the electricity in the neighborhood. Last night, with no air conditioning, it was too warm to keep the bastards down, and too dark to do a thorough check before climbing into bed.
At 3 a.m. I awaken doing the Saint Vitus Dance. I have bites everywhere: my legs, arms, hands, forehead, toes. I slip my hand out under the net and switch on the light. Half a dozen swollen mosquito bodies cling to the mesh inside the net, barely able to fly. I clap my hands over the first body, it splatters, leaving stigmata on my palms.
“What the hell are you doing?” Phil growls, and pulls the sheet over his head. Mosquitoes don’t like him. I suspect that the nicotine and Cocoa Puffs that sustain him together create a natural repellent.
“They have my blood, and I want it back,” I say, and crush another midnight outlaw. Right now I am a naked, female, Dirty Harry, ready to make four more mosquitoes sorry they were ever hatched. Whack – I destroy another one. He falls to the bed sheet in a drop of blood. My blood.
“That’s disgusting,” Phil complains. “Mosquito carcasses on the bed…!”
“Disgusting? I’ll show you what’s disgusting,” and I display the angry red splotches on my arms and thighs, I pull back my hair and show him my forehead. “THAT’S disgusting. I could have malaria, I could I have bubonic plague, Dengue fever, yellow fever. I could be dying right now!” I slap another one for emphasis, blood sprays across my palm, and even Dirty Harry is grossed out.
Four down. I sit silently and wait for the two survivors to settle on the net. I move stealthily, crawling across the bed like a cat, and swat at the others until they are immobilized and flat.
“If you’re finished with your killing spree can you please turn out the light?” Phil says in a voice that is clearly untroubled by itching.
“Just a sec, I have to wash the evidence off my hands.” Ungracefully, I climb out from under the net, my arms and legs tangling in the fabric. I tiptoe to the bathroom and wash my hands and dot my skin with calamine lotion.