Summertime is great. Barbecues. The beach. Mindless, high-octane movies about superheroes and aliens. The perfect summer film? Superhero aliens having a barbecue at the beach. In 3-D! (Christopher Nolan or James Cameron, are you listening?). But summer isn’t all sunshine and roses. It’s also mosquitoes.
I know that you’re supposed to love all of God’s creatures, great and small. Ugh. Whatever! I’ve never been much of a religious person anyway, so it’s a moot point. Besides, I’m sure that after scratching nonstop for days to quell the maddening itch of a mosquito bite even the Lord would probably question the wisdom of inventing that creature instead of, say, a miniature elephant. Because how cool would it be to have an elephant the size of a labrador retriever as a pet? You could take it for walks and everything! On hot summer days, all the kids in the neighborhood could bring out their elephants for “water gun” fights with their trunks! Screw the Super Soaker. But I digress…
Mosquitoes just suck. Literally. They’re like tiny vampires, always out for blood. And also more active when the sun goes down. I can’t think of a single beneficial reason they exist, other than helping the guy who invented Off mosquito repellent make his Mercedes payments every month. Seriously, what purpose do they serve? They are vector agents (ooh, the internet makes me feel so smart) who spread fun diseases and viruses like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and Chikungunya (which sounds like something you’d find on a plate in a Chinese restaurant smothered in mushrooms and bamboo shoots but is really a horrible disease characterized by a fever, rash, intense headache, and joint pain that usually lasts 5-7 days but can occasionally continue for months). 2 million people a year die from mosquito-borne diseases worldwide. That’s an awful lot!
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that it is only female mosquitoes who snack on humans. The males? They are innocently flitting about, content with nectar and plant juices. It’s the girls who need a blood meal before they can mate (and men are the ones who are always accused of having one-track minds – it’s unfair, I tell you!). I will be diplomatic, however, and not turn this into a joke about blood-sucking women looking to bleed you dry. I do have a girlfriend, after all, and I’d like to keep it that way.
My hate-hate relationship with mosquitoes dates back to the 1970s. We used to live in Hawaii then, and if you think mosquitoes are a problem in your neck of the woods, try hanging out in a tropical climate for awhile. There is no such thing as a “mosquito season” on Oahu; the damn critters are active 365 days a year. In an attempt to prevent people from getting eaten alive, several nights a week what we referred to as “the mosquito truck” would circle the streets of our neighborhood, pumping poison into the air. I am not kidding. You could hear the truck coming from a mile away; it was slow and lumbering, and there was a constant hum from the engine and a whoosh‘ing sound as it sprayed chemicals from its rear. Afterwards, the air was thick and heavy, and cloyingly sweet. I will never forget the distinctive aroma of whatever pesticide they used; the smell would linger for hours, and sometimes, if the trade winds didn’t kick in overnight, you could still catch a whiff of it the next morning.
In retrospect, I’m more afraid of the mosquito truck than the actual mosquitoes. I have no idea what kind of chemicals they were using back in the 70s, but I do know that there was no escaping them. It’s great that I never got malaria, but I worry that the price I pay will be some deadly form of cancer someday. Talk about a shitty tradeoff. It’ll probably happen at the least opportune moment, too. Right after my novel has been published and the movie rights have been sold.
Which gives me the perfect idea for a book! How about a superhero having a barbecue at the beach, who teams up with an alien to do battle against the true scourge of the universe, the lowly mosquito?!
It’ll be a bestseller and a summer blockbuster…