Experts are saying that the mosquitoes are worse this year than in recent years. I just heard it on the news. The news anchor gave the official report, pausing to slap his own face between sentences.
Later, I went for a walk and there were so many mosquitoes outside that when I breathed inward, I actually swallowed one. In my actual mouth.
The thing flew into the back of my throat and bit my esophagus. Then it lingered for a while, I could feel him buzzing around. I started making the same sounds you make when you’re drowning.
The first person I yelled for was my wife. “Jamie! Jamie!” I screamed. I don’t know why I did this. What was she supposed to do about it?
But then, I’m a male. I always call for my wife to “do something” even when there is nothing that can technically be done. That’s how men are. Before I got married I used to call out “Mama!” in times of distress. I guess the idea among men is that Mama—at least mine did this—carries a bunch of magical things in that giant purse of hers.
My mother, God bless her, had to be so tired of hearing her own name being hollered so often. It’s a wonder she didn’t up and move to Fiji, where I hear the mosquito issue is at least under control.
So after the mosquito mauling I ran home swatting my legs, leaping, coughing, and hacking. Blood streaks were on my thighs, mosquitoes were buzzing in my ear canals. One mosquito landed on my shoulder that was about the size of a Nissan Altima.
This is a real crisis facing Florida, and if you ask me, we the people need it to stop. How long are we going to sit idly by and watch mosquitoes take over our way of life and ruin our esophaguses?
I talked with a leading mosquito expert named Al who lives in the single-wide at the end of my street. Al has been seeking gainful employment for sixteen years ever since he retired from the pizza delivery field and moved in with his girlfriend’s mother’s step-cousin.
“Yeah,” Al said, “I got a trick for dealing with skeeters. The way you prevent the bites is beer.”
He was serious about this. Al even showed me an article from a news magazine to prove it. But it turned out that the article proved nothing.
All the article said was that beer has lots of B vitamins. Then Al used his extensive medical knowledge, mostly gathered from daytime television’s Doctor Oz, to simply put two and two together.
Al walked onto his porch to demonstrate the groundbreaking Beer Theory. Three mosquitoes landed on his forehead, two landed on his neck. A thousand landed on his bare belly.
“It doesn’t work,” I said. “There are a million mosquitoes on you.”
“I can’t even feel’em,” said Al.
I talked to another expert. He asked me not to use his name, but I CAN tell you that he’s a retired Pentecostal preacher who lives a few streets over from me. He spends his days wearing jumpsuit coveralls and a ball cap that reads, “Jesus is my Co-Pilot.”
Which is a phrase that used to be popular during my childhood. At one time there were lots of bumper stickers bearing this slogan. And this used to really annoy my aunt Eulah who was a devout foot-washing Baptist.
My aunt would take her eyes off the road while driving her Lincoln Continental to glare at me and say “The Lord is not my CO-PILOT, he’s my PILOT.”
Then I would scream because Aunt Eulah was piloting her car straight toward a semi-truck in the oncoming lane.
We sat in the preacher’s garage while he wiped down his engine.
He said, “Things’re gonna get worse than mosquitoes, son. These’re end times. The moon’s gonna turn to blood, the ocean will turn to blood. Bible says lotta people gon’ be found short and wake up in hellfire.”
Then—and this really happened—he had a diabetic seizure. His wife appeared with a glass of orange juice and forced it past his lips.
The old woman laughed and whispered to me, “Try not to let that end-of-the-world stuff scare you, when his blood sugar gets low he gets pissy.”
I consulted another expert on mosquito problems. He was riding a mosquito-control truck, spraying pesticide into ditches and smoking a cigarette at the same time.
I interviewed him.
“Yeah,” he remarked. “Lotta people complain about these here chemicals we use. Lotta folks think these carcinogens are toxic to the environment and kill wildlife and screw up kids and such…” He took a puff on his king-sized Marlboro and laughed until smoke came out his nose. “Heck, my kids turned out okay. Except for the one.”
So the problem is clear. Something has to be done, but nobody seems to have the answers. And I for one am worried.
Because right now while I write, I am on a screened porch and there are billions of mosquitoes trying to get in. They are stabbing their little needle-nose bloodsuckers through the tiny screen-holes, making threats and saying awful things about my mother. I should be terrified. But according to Al I don’t have a thing to worry about.
Because I have an ice cold can of B vitamins in my hand.