Humor by Mark Bazer

"Abercrombie & Fitch Co. said Friday that it closed a second store in New York due to a bed bug infestation." -- Associated Press

It's rare to read a feel-good story about bed bugs, but there you have it.

Although, you do have to feel some sympathy for the bed bugs for making such a poor retail choice. One hopes the chain sent legions of shirtless young men to fumigate the poor things out of their misery.

And with any luck, the bed bugs were so turned off by the humanity inside the Abercrombie & Fitch stores that they've sworn off -- and told all their friends to swear off -- people altogether.

Because, as you have no doubt heard over the last few years: "Bed bugs are back." Indeed, some are invading your home right now.

All but eliminated for decades thanks to now-banned pesticides like DDT (which did their job but just may have had minor side effects like causing cancer in people, killing bald eagles, etc.), bed bugs look at today's environmentally friendly pesticides as refreshing palette-cleansers to the main course: us.

They get into your clothing, your bed, and then into your skin, and, while you're not going to die from their bites, they'll a) drive you mad and b) make you the subject of unaffected friends' dinner conversations for months.

According to the Bed Bug Advisory Board in New York City, the following dialogue occurs an average of 25 times a night on Manhattan's Upper East Side:

"They had to throw out their beds, their clothes, their children."

"That's horrible. They had such nice clothes."

New York City seems to be the place where most of today's bed-bug action is, which would be fine if it only afflicted those people who move there and two weeks later act like you're a rube for not.

But bed bugs are equal-opportunity parasites: They don't care about your personality or your income or how attractive you are, and with luck they don't care if you've ever written about them, either.

New York is hardly the only city affected. A recent check of, a site where people can post about where they've encountered bed bugs and where bed bugs can post about where they've encountered people, shows recent bed-bug appearances everywhere from Los Angeles to Warrensville, Ohio.

And once you get bed bugs, you can carry them wherever you go, except for the strip clubs in Northwest Indiana, which depress even them.

In other words, if you've ever been bitten by bed bugs, there's nothing funny about them at all. With luck, these people are in too much discomfort right now to e-mail me.

The picture, however, isn't entirely grim. Experts suggest several ways you can reduce your risk of encountering bed bugs (and know of several other ways but don't feel like suggesting them):

-- Avoid hotels, where bed bugs are especially prevalent. If you must travel overnight, hide in furniture stores at closing time.

-- Buy a can of black-market DDT and spray yourself with it every night before bed.

-- Bite bed bugs near you before they can bite you.

-- Dabble in Eastern religion.

-- Fulfill your Abercrombie & Fitch needs online.

Humor & Satire

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