How We Really Feel About Bedbugs


It is August, and you are in Morocco.

Tonight, you will sleep on a twin bed in a room as big as two twin beds. A hostel, eight yards from a fishing pier. The bed has a chestnut frame, and a quilt that is nothing except one hundred blue hexagons sewn together.

You will remove your shirt. You will remove your pants. You will remove your socks. You will touch the cover of your passport, feel its skin, and the bald eagle holding thirteen arrows and an olive branch. Smell it – sweet, like leather and armpits.

Sleep. You are in Africa; just sleep. Put your arms above your head and lie on your bare belly. There are so many hexagons on top of you, it will be OK. You are here, in Africa, and you are OK.

They are fast. They are faster than fast. They skip time. They suck your juice and you will flinch and you will turn on the light and you will see nothing except one hundred azure hexagons sewn together.

Did you know? Fuck, no! You had no idea. You’ve never seen one. Your mother used to scare you when you were six and in bed — she’d get her fuchsia nails close to bottom of your jaw until you’d scream with so much goddamn joy you’d hope they were real.

Consider the bedbug. Brown. Dimpled. Oval. An aspiring scarab beetle. A dot. Near your triceps; your right arm. A dot in a line of dots. A family of dots, making their way across an ocean of blue hexagons on their way to a New World of triceps paved with gold.

They move, animating your blood. They take little packets of you: .005ml of the stuff that keeps you alive, and you can see it through their diaphanous backs. Their backs turn colors – blue and purple and endless brown – all the colors inside of you. You are so strong. So vast. You have so, so much inside, so much to give.

Perfect circles of blood, carrying your cytosine and guanine – your idiosyncrasies, the shape of your earlobes, the size of your smile when you are truly laughing – to the edges of the bedspread. To the holes in the chestnut bedframe where they will thrive and grow and live and love and mate and laugh and scream because of you, your strength, your ambition, your heat.

You will flinch ten times in a row, and grab your thighs, and say god’s name in vain again and again and again. You will shower for forty-five minutes, trying so hard to rotate your head 180 degrees so you can see the small of your back.

And the bedbugs will go home all full of your pith, and their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents join hands to dance in a circle around the bedpost as they scream, “YES! YOU BROUGHT IT BACK! Oh, Lord Almighty, we love you we love you, you are special and you will live.”

And the sturdy young bedbugs will reply, “We have seen the lamp on the other end of the bed. We have felt that blood in our bellies, and we are here to tell you there’s nothing better.”

So bold, such navigators, such hope-seekers, such wide-eyed desirers, peeking out from a chink in the chestnut to open their eyes and try to point themselves like compasses in the direction of a man’s warmth. Such hope. Such raw, undiluted hope.

Our world does not hate bedbugs because they are ugly. No. Our world hates bedbugs because they remind us of our voracity, our relative need. Our taking tiny sips of people until those sips turn our bodies little colors, and we crawl back home, taking those colors with us to people who are proud and old and tell us we are young and full of promise.

Oh, bedbugs. Let’s cuddle. I’d like that. Let me feel your little disc-backs. You will kiss my triceps hard and suck the blood from my upper arms and it will tickle. You will carry my genetic code in your bellies like a prize, and take it far, far away to the end of a hundred hexagons.

I want to sleep with a bedbug. Give me one. Give me two. And a night together in warm wet azure Morocco.