OPINION: Fantz in Your Pants: Blood-sucking queens and a Fantz buffet

·4 min read

Jul. 22—"What's your vacation wish?" My friend asked me after I canceled on meeting up with her for a Great Plains vacation.

I want to relax. I don't want to drive across state lines. I want to look at pretty things and drink Smirnoff Ice Pink Lemonades like a pack of Karens at a country club pool party. (I'll switch to PBR after one, lest I taint my reputation.)

So the child and I are flying out to meet this friend at her mom's lake spot in Minnesota. They have a fabulous setup that includes lodging (with A/C), a firepit surrounded by blossoms and is perched on a lake filled with paddle boats, swimming beaches and...

And...

Mosquitoes.

WT(itching)F am I thinking.

Most people don't bat an eye at mosquitoes. They bat a slap at them to swat them away from their frozé while the trash flies cement themselves in coiffed Aqua Net hair helmets. The thread-legged buggars land on others only to rub their stupid hands together while they concoct a scheme to find me.

Then Queen Mosquito sends out a breaking news alert to her bitey broads the minute I step outside. (I've learned only females bite. Neat.) Within seconds of my sugary-sweet, plump flesh hitting the fresh air, I get so logged with bites that I can barely return inside without a cloud of bugs casing me.

I moved to Colorado because I THOUGHT THOSE JERKS DIDN'T SURVIVE AT ALTITUDE.

Oh they can, all right. Most species prefer lower altitude, but the tribes that dig Denver live right outside my front door.

Put on bug spray, you say. Wear long sleeves and pants. Don't scratch them. Well none of that works. They bite me anyway. I scratch them like crazy so I have polka-dot flesh most of the summer. And those murderous monsters gave me West Nile so I will whine to my skin's content.

Come along on a ride with me. *pats lap*

My sister and I drove from Denver to Florida to visit college friends, I think the summer 2000 or 2001. (What's better than driving a non-air conditioned car to the swampy south in mid-summer?)

We pit-stopped in a couple spots to visit friends, and one of those spots was Eunice, Louisiana. Eunice, though its southern charm, spanning plantation homes and lush greenery was just dandy to take in, it was not good to me. Its mosquitoes nearly killed me.

About a week later in Florida while drinking on the beach with old homies, the lymph nodes on the back of my neck sprouted golf balls. Six golf balls. What followed was three months of (barely) living hell. After being in and out of hospitals, offices and clinics, and six weeks spent sweating out fevers on friends' couches, crying for my mommy, my sister carried me into the backseat of the blood-red '95 Mercury Grand Marquis where she made a bed and began the trek back home to Colorado.

Our halfway stop was at an American Motel — "$32.95 and Up" neon red blazing like the Vegas strip over our window — she hoisted me to the bed as my fever was topping out at 105.5. She was terrified. She told my mom I was convulsing as I could faintly hear her crying on the phone. (We were sprightly and ignorant back in those days. Probably should've gone to the ER but my shitty health insurance had already been through the ringer.)

My nurse and Saint Sister hauled ass through eight states and nearly 1,900 miles while I was moaning death rattles in the back-seat boudoir of Bloody Hell (good ol' Mercury). We made it home. After a half-dozen more doctors and hospitals, I was still sick. The virus latched onto me for nearly 90 days. My fever floated at 104 degrees-plus for 19 days. My muscles were atrophied, my brain was swollen, my skin was grey. And since West Nile virus was so new in the U.S., nobody knew WTF was wrong with me.

So I will bitch about mosquitoes all the time and you will patiently listen to me.

Maybe I need to rethink my relaxing vacation requirements. Anyone up for some Uno in a Motel 6 in the deep-freeze tundra somewhere? I hear the only monster is frostbite. We can sip on Pina Coladas, watch my beach screensaver and lather up in self-tanning lotion.

Did you say bedbugs? Back to my couch.

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