My husband suggested that we walk over to the food co-op, rather than drive.
I told him that was fine, but he wanted to walk back across the grass to put our groceries in the car before we left.
“I’m not gonna’ walk across the grass,” I tell him.
“Because of mosquitoes.”
“There are no mosquitoes this time of year, honey.”
I told him I didn’t care what time of year it was and not to use the “honey” word to get me to change my mind. I wasn’t taking any chances and walked over to the sidewalk.
Tucson mosquitoes have put the fear of God into me.
The thing about them is that they’re small—invisible is more like it. In fact, people call them “no-see ‘ums.” They don’t buzz either. They’re silent; if this were the Second World War, they’d be in the French Resistance.
They hover near the ground and attack your ankles before you even know they’re around, leaving dozens of barely visible, extremely itchy small dots. Then they work their way up your leg, biting right through your—everything.
I go to bed at night and the bites on my ankles will start to itch. Soon, the bites on the outside of my left arm start to itch, then the ones on my right thigh and then it’s my husband telling me he can’t sleep with all the scratching going on while I’m a writhing, scratching Olivia de Havilland in The Snake Pit.
And it’s not just Tucson mosquitoes that get me.
Once, when I was on vacation in Utah, we pulled off the road to get a better view of the Green River.
We got out of the car. My husband said, “Look!”
He pointed to the river. We got back in the car. That was it. Two minutes. Total.
I was scratching all the way back to the motel.
To a mosquito, I am a vacation in the Greek Islands—soft, white, unimpeded beaches with meals included.
My husband says he thinks I should try mosquito repellent. I tell him he should know better.
“There is no such thing as mosquito repellent!”
Nothing repels a mosquito. Where did that name come from, anyway? Mosquitoes are not repelled. They come back later. Mosquito repellent should be called mosquito delayer.
He says it’s a good thing I don’t work for mosquito marketing.
“You know I’ve tried everything,” I say. “Lotions, sprays, herbs, essential oils—nothing works. Besides, I hate all that stuff. I hate the way it looks. I hate the way it smells. I hate the idea of spreading it all over my body. I’ve given up on it all.”
I throw my hands up in a gesture of surrender.
“God never gives us more than we can handle,” my husband dares to say.
“And now you’re telling me to apply philosophy to mosquito bites?” I challenge him. “Does it come in a child-proof tube or in a spray-on bottle?”
He reaches over and puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Bad joke, huh?” I say.
“Really bad,” he says. But he doesn’t go on. He knows when to stop when it comes to a mosquito-bitten woman.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Susanne Nillson/Flickr