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After Work: Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite

Would you believe it! The thought of bedbugs gets this guy dreaming of dollars by the million...

Dona Gibbs is tickled by an urge to write a Mamet-style drama after overhearing a conversation in the local diner.

For more of Dona's columns, which are guaranteed to satisfy an urgent itch for good reading, please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Belly up to the Formica counter in any local diner and for the price of a cup of coffee you can hear (or in my case, overhear) some of the most authentic bits of theatre you’ll ever experience.

“I thought I’d give you first crack at an idea I’ve got,” confided the overweight guy in a gimme cap to his somewhat more crisply turned out buddy.

“What’s that?” This was muffled by a huge bite of a fried egg and bacon sandwich.

“Bedbugs,” gimme cap guy whispered conspiratorially.

‘Bedbugs?” His friend stopped mid-chew.

“Yeah. You read the papers? They’re a big problem. Fancy hotels got ’em. Ritzy apartment buildings. They’re crawling all over the place.

“Yeah. What’s your idea?”

“Bedbug traps. Something you put in each corner of the room. The bedbugs crawl into it and get caught.”


“But you’d have to make the traps so the consumer could see the results.”

“You got a business plan or anything like that?”

Gimme Cap guy takes a noisy slurp of coffee and looks at the acoustical tile ceiling as if a well-thought-out plan might suddenly drop on the counter top.

“Nooo, but I got a lotta marketing plans. An idea for a TV commercial.

He began to sing to the tune of the reggae hit of the 1990s Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys.”

“Bedbugs, bedbugs. Whatcha gonna, whatcha gonna do when they come for you.”

His friend stares at him and stops chewing.

“Sell those traps for $5.99. Everybody’s gonna buy one a least to see if they’ve got an infestation.” He stretches this last word out –in…fes…tat…shunnn.

“What’s in the traps?”

“Glue. Like I said the consumer wants to see results.”

“What’s the bait?”

Now the Gimme Cap guy leaned back from the counter a bit and scratched his considerable stomach.

“That’s the question, my friend. I was just getting’ around to that. We need some scientific research. Find out what brings those little suckers outta the mattress.”

“Mmm,” the friend chased a toast crumb with his index finger.

“I figure we need a million bucks for the research, the manufacturing, the marketing and all.”

“A million?” His friend’s eyes widened.

“Well yeah, That’d get us goin’. It’s sure fire. $5.99 a pop. Hotels, motels, homes. And, and nursing homes. They all gotta have ‘em. We could take the fear angle, you know. Ever see what a bedbug looks like up close? Ug…ly.”

“A million bucks, huh”

“Well, we could probably do it small scale for about $500,000. But hey, like I said. It’s a sure thing.”

“Huh,” the friend replies.

The Gimme Cap guy bursts into song again, “Bed bugs, bed bugs, whatcha gonna do when they come for you.”

“How about you put up… say $50,000 and we do a little ex..plo…ra…tor…ree work?”

“I’d have to think on that one,” the friend says dabbing at his chin and signaling for the check.

This was a David Mamet one-act in the making. When I got home I did a little Internet research. Yes, bedbugs have resurfaced as an annoying problem. In North America in the 1940s and 50s they were eradicated by DDT. Since the ban of this and other dangerous pesticides, they’ve crawled back into our lives.

I found that they are attracted by warmth and the carbon dioxide we exhale. No effective traps that also eliminate them have been discovered even though scientists have been working on the problem for years.

Bedbugs have been with us since ancient times. The same as get-rich-quick scams.


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