Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
There’s a mosquito in the bedroom, and it’s driving me insane.
It’s 22:59 now, and the first time I saw the mosquito was an hour and a half ago. I remember, because I’d just finished eating and I heard it, that bloody siren, just before it drifted coolly across my monitor. Worst part is, I was mistaken: there wasn’t just one mosquito, but two. I know this because I zapped the first one into oblivion with my trusty mosquito swatter the moment I saw it. Then I sat down to write and there it was again.
My worst nightmare has become reality.
Since then my mind’s been hijacked, as is often the case when I know there’s a mosquito in the room. Not that it matters to me while I’m working, but I know once I’m done and I head to bed, the bloody thing’s gonna mess with my precious few hours of sleep. No-one wants that.
Thing is, mosquitoes aren’t all that bad. Ignoring the rare chances of them carrying blood-borne diseases like Malaria, all they do is give me a slight itch that goes away in under 5 minutes. Odds are, I get bitten once or twice and then it’ll leave me alone.
So why does it bother me so much?
“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
– Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop)
It’s the idea of having an intruder in the room, a tiny intruder that has clearly made it its life mission to fly by my ear with that incessant whining every time I’m about to fall asleep. It’s those phantom itches I get when I know there’s a mosquito in the room that drive me crazy. An inconsequential insect that’s got this magical ability to disappear the moment I turn on the lights to look for it.
My bedroom’s got a lot of hiding places. Not for me, of course–I’m incapable of hiding even a single inch of exposed skin from a mosquito with a mission–but mosquitoes seem to be able to blend in with their surroundings. Like a real-life magician, they have this amazing ability to disappear from view in an instant. Mosquito flies behind my monitor, I look behind my monitor, it’s gone. Mosquito goes up, I follow it, and poof! Just like that, it’s gone.
Maybe they fly faster than I think. Google says:
“The top speed for a mosquito is about 1.5 miles per hour.”
I’ll be honest with you: I’m still not sure if that’s a lot. I guess it is though, considering how small they are. Either way, I’m clearly a hell of a lot slower than they are.
“They think and act 100 times faster than you can. Your hand never really had a chance!”
– Matan Shelomi (entomologist)
But even knowing I barely stood a chance of finding and killing today’s tiny intruder, I still spent half an hour hunting it down (to no avail). Like an absolute idiot–I concede that–with a flashlight in one hand, and the swatter in the other, I searched up and down the bedroom looking for it. I moved slowly, like the internet recommended, nudging and shaking places where the mosquito could hide. The idea is that, once moved, the mosquito would fly out of hiding and the rest would be history.
Of course, that didn’t happen. God knows where the thing was hiding. The moment I sit down to write though, there it is again, flying across the bright light of my monitor, slow enough for me to see it, mocking me with its random flight path corrections, but too fast for me to kill with a precise death-clap.
Now it’s 23:47, nearly an hour since I started writing this post, and it’s flown in front of me three or four times, with no possibility of retaliation. My legs itch like crazy, and I’m not sure if the bites are real or if it’s just my mind that’s lost the battle. It’s too dark to see, and I don’t want to turn on the lights just in case the mosquito’s gone to sleep. Is that a thing? I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out.
So I guess you win tonight, mosquito. You live to die another day.
“To me, there is nothing more soothing than the song of a mosquito that can’t get through the mesh to bite you.”
– Madison Smartt Bell (Novelist)
Got any secret techniques handed down through generations of your family for finding and destroying these pesky bastards? Let me know in the comments section. I’ll be forever grateful.