Coping With the Ipswich Itch
I was probably crazy (the mosquito said) to come back here to Ipswich this year, after all that West Nile craziness last year. The mason jar imprisonments. The humiliating lab tests. The false accusations. (Yes, we took blood from school children. But we have no DNA connection to vampires. None!) Plus, may I just say, it was extremely hurtful to deal with the numerous put-downs of my home state of New Jersey.
After the trauma, and after we finally staggered back home, things actually went from bad to worse. Our family struggled. My children had nightmares about Board of Health interrogations. My wife never recovered emotionally; before long, she could only suck a pint a day. Ultimately she packed up the larvae and left for her mother’s swamp in Morristown.
I was devastated, of course — and her lawyer saw to it that she got just about everything, right down to our Red Cross membership.
But life goes on. And maybe a part of me wanted to redeem the Ipswich nightmare. To prove to myself that I could conquer this town.
So yeah, I came back. Hooked up with the mosquito community. Tried to really get my nose into this place.
It wasn’t easy. You upright mammals may have enjoyed the Ipswich summer, with all those dry, sunny days. But we were dying. Bored out of our wits. No place to go for, you know, recreation. Procreation, actually. Mosquitoes can’t live in a dry town. We need moisture, even more than humans do. We’re very sensitive to chafing. You don’t like a dry, scratchy kiss, do you? Well, imagine your whole six-millimeter-long nose feeling like that.
To you, it’s just a slimy puddle along the shady side of your house. But to a mosquito, it’s a water bed with a pink lotus candle burning nearby. 2012, however, was not to be the Summer of Insect Love. Instead, Ipswich offered up a world-class drought, thank you very much.
It was impossible. You zip into a bar, you meet a nice-looking Culiseta longiareolata with a fine, sleek proboscis, maybe have a couple of drinks, get a little buzz to go with your buzz — but then: frustration. You take her to that one really good pothole on Linebrook Road; it’s bone-dry. You whirr over to Old Town Hall, where a break in the gutter lets the rain cut a nice, juicy trough in the gravel; now it’s like a little slice of Arizona. You hope you’ll get lucky in the curve of a throwaway tire out behind that one house on Greens Point Road, but no. It’s so parched it’s wrinkled, like a black rubber prune. “If you can’t find anyplace we can go,” she whines, “just take me home.” The whole evening, ruined, for lack of a single, simple muck-hole.
And then, as if “local warming” wasn’t enough, you had to go all SWAT team on us and spew bug-strangling poison gas into the air. I’m amazed, to tell you the truth, that humans put up with this stuff. It stinks! As if it’s not barbarian enough to try and asphyxiate us, but for crying out loud, how do you stand the smell of that gunk? I’ll just tell you the truth: When the gassing begins, we mosquitoes hold our breath — partly for the sake of survival, sure, but mostly to avoid the stench. At least sometimes you’re clueless enough to dispense the toxins from airplanes — think that’s impressive, do you? Since we actually live on the ground, it’s those trucks doing their drive-by discharges that terrify us the most. Please, people. Can’t we all just get along?
I want to say once and for all, I have nothing to do with West Nile. My family immigrated to Jersey from east of the Nile. Way east. Practically the Sinai. I don’t blame you for not liking the Westies. We hated them when I was growing up. However, to be honest, this was mostly because they always creamed us at water polo.
Anyway, it’s autumn. Ipswich seems to be getting moist again. We’ll only have a few more days mild enough for me to get out and about. So let a skeeter alone, will ya?