Editors note – Matts counterpart as a freelance columnist, Denise Snodell, have decided to engage in a point-counterpoint discussion on a timely topic."
DENISE: Is there no peace for my alter-ego, Germ Cop? I’ve had my flu shot, I’ve restocked the Purell dispensers and I continue to triple wash triple-washed salad…but now this.
MATT: What? H1N1? Bird Flu? You’ve booked a Carnival Cruise?
DENISE: Worse. Bed bugs. I feel like I’ve stepped into Frank McCourt’s memoir, "Angela’s Ashes."
MATT: Wait. This is out of control. Totally. Google shows 1.2 million hits on the topic and a couple thousand news stories. I’ve seen "breaking news" specials on the Today show, just as I am sprinkling raisins on my oatmeal. Enough. They’re bugs. They’ve been around since the Stone Age. No worse than their cousins, ticks and chiggers which I met in scout camp, circa 1969. Itch and scratch, repeat. And that’s before the chiggers. There are a lot more important problems to address.
DENISE: Dare I ask: Like what?
MATT: Football. The Chiefs, the Jayhawks, and my fantasy team, for starters. Look, your crisis isn’t a bug problem. It’s a bed problem. What is it with women and bed issues? Size, comfort, pillows, mattress pads, comforters, headboards, chenille throws, decorative pillows, sleep numbers—stop, please. Beds are for sleeping, snoring and allowing the GI system to engage in the circle of life. Ever seen a college dorm room for boys? Two couches, a bean bag and a throw-rug can sleep 10 dudes. Life goes on. So does the scratching.
DENISE: Where to begin? 1. Sports do not trump pesticide-resistant pathogens on legs. 2. You forgot to mention shams and duvets—what’s wrong with you? 3. There is no sleeping or snoring during infestations. 4. Women do not have GI systems. 5. When I was in college, I never spent any time in boys’ dorm rooms. 6. I am lying about one or two of the above. Anyway, 2,000 news stories are not enough.
MATT: Exhale, please. Then count to 10. I read where hotels are bringing dogs to sniff out the bed bugs. Wow. That’s impressive. Scruffy mutts snorting around your hotel bed, shedding hair and slurping drool on the sheets. The New York Times reported last week that a bed bug-sniffing beagle named Roscoe is so popular he has a Facebook page and an iPhone app. And, yes, his owner is getting rich, and so are other dog owners. My dog, Bernie, is smarter and cuter than any Beagle—sign her up. Just make the checks payable to me.
DENISE: …8, 9, 10. So you’re saying I have to choose between nasty bug droppings and dog drool? There’s no way I’m going near a hotel bed. Have you seen the Marriott commercials where this gymnast lady swings upside down from fabric? And this other gal does handstands on a counter while balancing an apple on her foot? Bed bug avoidance, that’s what all that is.
MATT. Business travelers have no choice but to sleep in beds with unknown cleaning pedigrees. No fear, however— there’s a website, www.bedbugregistry.com, that reports on bed bug sightings. Even tony addresses aren’t safe—the Waldorf Astoria got sued by some angry guests who got up close and personal with the little fellas. As a frequent traveler myself, here’s my tip—don’t worry about the sheets, avoid the TV remote. And in Western Kansas, shun motels in pheasant country with room signs that say "Don’t clean your birds in the sink."
DENISE: I am now breathing into a brown paper bag. And I still don’t know why you’re so cavalier about this disaster. These bed bugs are immune to most pesticides. However, I’ve read you can nail ‘em with heat. Finally I have a use for my crème brulee torch.
MATT. Wonderful. But don’t singe Grandma’s quilt folded up on the foot of the bed. That sucker has another 100 years before its next cleaning.
DENISE: Thanks for yet another nasty image. I plan to clear my mind of all of this bug stuff at my next handstand lesson.
MATT: You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when Bernie’s app is ready.
Matt Keenan’s book, Call Me Dad, Not Dude, is available at Borders and online at thekansascitystore.com. Write to Matt at his website, matthewkeenan.com.