We Are Still Living in the Age of Bedbugs

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Sleeping with the enemy! Photo: Wikipedia

On a scale of one to ten, how much anxiety do you feel when you contemplate bedbug exposure? (You know, when you stay in a hotel, buy anything from a stoop sale or flea market, sit on a friend's couch, or walk past a Salvation Army store?) Most New Yorkers are constantly at 8 or 9, sizing up even their most well-groomed friends with paranoid suspicion. After all, bedbugs don't discriminate: Martha Stewart and Amy Winehouse are, theoretically, equally vulnerable to the scourge. (And, be honest, if you had an infestation ... would you really tell everybody you knew?)

The new-ish, fantastic site Brokelyn (ostensibly for frugal Brooklynites, but basically for everybody) published a guide to bedbug avoidance and preliminary treatment yesterday. Some of the advice is obvious (don't drag a mattress or couch home from the street — the more "perfectly good" they look, the more likely they are to be crawling with invisible bloodthirsty eggs!). But some is not, like spraying even hard furniture with Blackjack before it enters your home.

To this, we'd add two potential sources of bedbugs that might not have yet entered the imagination/nightmares of even the most paranoid New Yorkers:

Craigslist Roommates — A new roommate might seem perfect, but always ask "Why are you leaving your current apartment?" We know of one unfortunate situation in which a young man was all set to move into a multi-roommate apartment (with his three sad, suspiciously sealed bags of belongings) when the gatekeeper roommate thought to ask the above question, almost as a formality. "Oh ... bedbugs!" came the oddly cheerful answer. This poor young man was tossed back out into the street, a little sadder and a little wiser, but one less Bushwick apartment was rendered uninhabitable that day.

Those Private Karaoke Rooms With Their Gross Dilapidated Couches — We know of one young lady whose office going-away party was ruined when, taking a breathless seat after a clumsy-yet-adorable rendition of "Friends in Low Places," she surveyed the outrageously overpriced Koreatown motel/hotel/hostel–adjacent room and realized she was sitting in the Ellis Island of New York City bedbug immigration. This resourceful lady didn't get bedbugs, but let's just say her clothes did not go with her into her apartment that night.

Be careful out there!