Light Notes

My daughter's battle with bedbugs

I may be as crazy as a bedbug to spread this story, but I’ve been itching to tell it for years.

And now that the real critters are hitchhiking across the national and international scene, it’s time.

You’re aware. I’m aware. Even Doonesbury has turned from clobbering former President Bush and Sarah Palin to attacking the bedbug problem.

But long before it was in vogue to discuss these blood-sucking insects, my youngest daughter became painfully aware. It happened about seven years ago while she worked as the film production supervisor at a desolate location in California’s Mojave Desert.

“Mom,” Tiffany whimpered into her cell phone, “I drove all the way into Barstow today and the doctor says I’ve been bitten by bed bugs!”

What? I thought those creepy-crawlies existed only in a nursery rhyme—one my mom had recited for years as I headed for bed: “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Never in my wildest nightmare did I think they were real. (No wonder we always said nighttime prayers!) But here was my own flesh and blood — with a little less blood — telling me about her ordeal.

“He said there’s nothing I can do about the bug bites,” Tiffany grumbled, “and told me I’d have to live with the pests as long as I stayed at that motel,” her voice rising in desperation. “But there’s nowhere else in town for me to stay!”

Obviously, she was bugged.

Nevertheless, not to be outmaneuvered by a parasite or continue to live in bedlam, Tiffany headed to Walmart.

There she armed herself with spray cans of Lysol, a plastic cover to seal the mattress, brand new bedding and fresh towels.

She also changed rooms.

Now, blanketed in the knowledge that she’d taken every measure to secure her sleeping area against any future onslaught, Tiffany gave her husband, Elliott, the tactic he would have to use if he planned to leap — and I do mean leap — into their bed at night. It didn’t matter how late he returned from chauffeuring Kelsey Grammer to a hotel nearly an hour away, the battle plan remained the same.

No clothing would touch the floor, showers must be taken and clean towels hung up to dry. Every footstep leading toward the bed would be on carefully placed terrycloth with a quick hop onto the mattress.

The strategy did more than scratch the surface. But years later, I still wonder if their pillow talk included, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”