Spring is officially here. OK, perhaps not “officially” because “officially” happens on April 21st. Or April 20th according to some source online that contradicts what I was taught in school. So instead of “officially” let’s talk “actually”. How do I declare spring as actually here? I saw my first mosquito.
It was a nice day after a fairly long series of days that definitely did not make me think it was spring. But on this day I was driving with my window down and stopped for a traffic light. And at that moment, it alit on my windshield, right in front of me. Yes, a mosquito. Already?
I felt just a little cheated – am I not allowed to enjoy a single day of spring-like weather before getting hit by the inevitable trade-offs? One of the cardinal rules during my college Econ studies was that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Meaning that for anything you get, you have to give something. So I understood right away that to get spring I have to accept the mosquitos too. But on the first day? As my daughter used to say at age 10, this is SO not fair.
The mosquito has been a scourge throughout my life. As a kid, it seemed that the little red, swollen, itching bumps were a constant – the price of days and evenings spent outside doing what kids do. Or at least what kids used to do. Nobody gets bitten by a mosquito while sitting in an air conditioned house playing video games. Now get off my lawn.
The remedy back then was the pink calamine lotion that our mothers would daub onto the bite. It would turn dry and flaky, but it would relieve the itching somewhat – at the cost of turning the small red spots into large pink spots. My city did not run DDT fogger trucks through our neighborhood, but they were a common sight in the town where we would visit relatives. I’m sure the kids on their bikes who followed the billowing plumes of insecticide got a lifetime inoculation against mosquitos. How long of a lifetime might be another question.
But maybe that is small potatoes compared with the problems that come with mosquito bites nowadays. West Nile Virus, Zika Virus and various forms of encephalitis, for a few. Maybe the DDT wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Long sleeves, long pants, and mosquito repellants of all kinds are the order of the day. It isn’t an itchy-bump-and-calamine world anymore.
My own method of protection against mosquito bites was to have met and married Marianne. She has (quite unwittingly and unwillingly) served as my sacrificial anode when it comes to mosquito bites. A sacrificial anode is a method of corrosion protection where something metal is made with a piece of a different metal that is intended to be like a lightning rod for corrosion – a “we rust so you don’t have to” kind of thing. There is probably one inside of your water heater. Isn’t that interesting? No? Back to the mosquitos.
Or, Marianne. There is something about her that is a mosquito magnet. Did you ever throw a wad of bread into a pond of ducks or drop a piece of food near an anthill? That’s Marianne going outdoors in the evening. She seems to have the ability to grab the attention of every mosquito in a nine square mile area in the way the flashing blue light used to lure K-Mart shoppers. It is her superpower. Which proves that some superpowers are less desirable than others.
Well, I guess it depends on who that superpower may benefit – because I have found her mosquito superpower to be quite useful. “We have to go inside” means that it’s working. Marianne will say those words before I experience a single mosquito bite. I am sure that the three or four bites she will have received by then are a price she is glad to pay for the comfort and happiness of her dear spouse. Well, I have not actually asked her that question directly, but she is a kind soul.
Perhaps that is what happened the other day – she has spent enough time in my car that the little mosquito became confused. If I had the ability to understand and speak in mosquitese, I may have heard a small voice saying “excuse me, who are you? I was expecting the lady with the snacks. Have I missed her?” If I were a better man I would have stuck my arm out of the car and offered a consolation prize. True, it would be like the trick-or-treater who expects the person handing out extra-large Snickers bars but gets the tightwad relative who doles out two rolls of Smarties instead. But it’s sort of an academic question because I am not a better man. “Sorry dude, she’s not here. Now get off my windshield.”
At least I didn’t turn on the wipers.
Mosquito – public domain photo from freestockphotos.biz
Vintage photo of mosquito fogger from silive.com