Growing up in suburban Colorado meant that cheese-resistant mice could be outfoxed with some peanut butter or a jar of bacon fat.
I recall a pleasant afternoon spent extracting a nearly drowned mouse from his plunge into the grease and observing his woozy, stumbly decline into death-by-bacon. He seemed so utterly satisfied.
Other business with vermin included blindly reaching a groping hand down into the long six inch-wide PVC tube in the lawn to fish out errant toads when the irrigation was acting funny.
Oh, and there were the bunnies and groundhogs to be dealt with. My dad did something to these, though I won't ask what and neither should you, really.
Pests. Really cute pests. Colorado has pests who can be sold to Buena Vista or Disney and quickly caricatured with darling, diminutive homes, furniture, vests and shoes, trials and temptations, families, and songs.
But here I am in the most expensive real estate market on the entire planet and what vermin does my buck buy me here? Bedbugs? Roaches? Lice? No. Not just. Add, "super" to the front of each of these. You would think the people would have demanded better here.
Ok then. Here's the (partial) roster.
I read (in bed naturally) in the New Yorker not very long ago that even rich, pretty people are being confronted with these cheeky blood suckers.
"It's becoming an epidemic," said Jeffrey Eisenberg, the owner of Pest Away Exterminating, an Upper West Side business that receives about 125 bedbug calls a week, compared with just a handful five years ago. "People are being tortured, and so am I. I spend half my day talking to hysterical people about bedbugs."
(That would be me if I had bedbugs.)
Well, Gothamists. Looks like we better just leave that heaving, soggy-but-free mattress on the sidewalk from now on. My friend Elizabeth is a notorious trash picker. Bedbugs could ruin her home-decor M.O. Hopefully they don't cling to wood and lampshades.
Right on. No prob. I am clean. Clean enough (thought I). Yet, naked and vulnerable, I found a roach one day that was about two inches long enjoying my clean-enough bathroom wall (yes, I was naked and vulnerable, but upon re-reading this sentence, I have decided not to edit it in the interest of fairness to vermin. I attest that the roach was naked, and I assume, felt vulnerable. See, I try to be fair.)
I picked the roach up with toilet paper, its antennae waving around in a wild WTF manner, applied a pinching pressure, and with the other hand, called Elizabeth for reassurance. (What was I thinking calling Elizbeth for reassurance?)
(You may now be getting the impression that Elizabeth is gross. She's not exactly. She is just on a first-name basis with gross.)
In an even voice, Elizabeth told me that roaches can live and even perform romantic duties (screw) for like 48 hours after their heads are cut off. I took no chances then and with the bang-trimming scissors in the medicine cabinet, cut the roach up into 6-10 pieces and flushed him/them away. I resisted the urge to call Elizabeth to ask if individual pieces of roaches can crawl up the sewer system and reassemble to enter your bottom. I am fairly certain they can.
Oh lice. I know we shall meet someday.
On Friday, Boone came home with the latest note in a neverending series of such notes saying that these meanies have made yet another appearance in the classroom. Lice and Fifth's Disease. It's a wonder the New York City schools manage to even make it to lunchtime everyday. This time the lice were camping out on a little girl who tends to be dressed to the nines. My children are regularly far, far, far less well-groomed than she. I felt a chill in the spine, a tingle on the scalp. After once again reading the descriptions of these bugs and their tricks, I took down my bun and clawed at my head while trying to examine my own scalp in the mirror.
I then called the children in and picked at dandruff pieces and pencil shavings on their scalps. I asked them if their heads itched, phrasing the question differently over and over until they finally said, "I guess so." The lice are phantom-lice for now, but surely this status is temporary. And how about you, dear reader? Surely your scalp is itchy?
Are you sure?
How about now?
I can help you, I think.
One of the moms from school emailed everyone with the name and number of the Hasidic Jewish nit-picker (ah-hah! The origin of that word.) She said it was truly the only way to go for delousing. I googled the nit-picker's name, Abigail Rosenfeld, and found a media darling. I suppose she's the only game in the borough. According to the NY Sun:
The mother of 13, Ms. Rosenfeld honed her skills as a teenager as she helped her mother remove nits from her brothers and sisters. She has gained such fame that earlier this year a pediatrician from Boston flew into the city with her children to Ms. Rosenfeld because nobody had been able to rid her children of nits. (Note to self: do not sit on airplane seats previously occupied by Boston pediatricians or their offspring.)
Since Hasidic girls don't have much in the way of careers to look forward to, Abigail's thriving business must be somewhat enviable if not controversial in her community.
In Manhattan, however, there is another Jewish (Orthodox maybe, though not Hasidic....I think) team for the lice. Their effort is a bit more assertive as they reportedly dispatch white-coated examiners to the schools who then send crabby evidence home on a piece of tape to horrified parents.
The upshot apparently is this: over-the-counter remedies aren't hacking it anymore. We're looking perhaps at resistant strains of lice.
Oh, for the days of bunnies.
(But keep your supermice. We've got 'em.)