Bedbugs, Birthdays and Plagues

October 22, 2012

I look around the small airport and wrinkle my nose. I’d forgotten the downside to small airports: the White Trash Hospitality Area.

The hospitality area is roughly the size of a shoebox. The shoebox is crammed with sweaty, tattooed, and dangerously hairsprayed bodies, smoking and drinking like it’s their last day on Earth. But it’s not their last day on Earth. It’s an hour before flight time.

“Gimme a gin and gin; screw the tonic!” a frizzled blonde hollers to her boyfriend, Marlboro in hand.

Three college students, channeling their inner Bogart, drink Scotch on the rocks and light up cigars.

“What kind of airport is this?” a woman in lavender jeggings complains. “All they have is chips? I need a burger. Where’s the dang burger place?”

It is 9:30 in the morning.

I clutch my Suburban Housewife Book Club Selection close to my chest and try not to inhale.

“My throat burns,” I say.

“No worries,” my husband says. “It’s a nicotine car crash in here,” and hands me my boarding pass.

 

We settle ourselves into our seats, clack seat belts on, and wait. And wait.

“If we’re gonna sit here this long, can the cocktail cart come out?” yells someone in back of us. Applause. No cart appears.

After thirty minutes, the static sound system comes to life. “Sorry for the delay, folks. We’re just, ah, waiting for a weather report to come in from Las Vegas to clear us to fly. It’s pouring rain down there at the moment. We appreciate your patience.”

“Pouring rain?” I look at my husband in disbelief. “It’s the freaking desert. There’s no rain in the desert!”

“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, too,” a woman behind me chimes in helpfully.

Niiice. A three-day getaway in Las Vegas and two of my “poolside with a novel” days are shot down before takeoff.

 

The cabbie has the worst set of dentures I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure they glow in the dark.

“Colorado, eh?” he rasps, weaving in and out of traffic. “I was a truck driver for 18 years and went through there all the time. Sucky winters.”

I smile politely and look out the window. Apparently, Las Vegas is where billboards come to die:  Nude Girls Live! Peepshow at Planet Hollywood! Best Burlesque in Town! ZuManity: The Sexy Cirque du Soleil for Couples!

“You must see it all here,” I say, eyes glued to the billboards.

“Hell yeah, I do,” he cackles. “I tell ya, last night? I picked up these three Canadians at…dang…where was it I picked ‘em up…Oh! The Palms. These guys, they  had the filthiest mouths I’ve ever heard. Total jerks, too. Just complete, mouthy jerks, drunker than heck. So they tell me that they wanna go somewhere where there’s lots of ladies, and I say, ‘Lotsa ladies, huh? I know just the place.’ So I take ‘em on the outskirts of town, to this lesbian/tranny bar, and darned if there wasn’t a coupla trannies standin’ outside and they look pretty good, all dolled up and stuff. So I dump ‘em there and drive off, fast as Hell, before they can figure what they’ve gotten into. Heh, heh.”

I shoot my husband a look that says: remind me not to piss off any cab drivers in this town.

Day 2: rain. This is actually a “working getaway” for my husband, so he’s in conferences all day. I finish my novel. I take a bath in the giant tub in our 600$-a-night Happy Birthday suite. There’s a TV in the bathroom, so I soak and watch the vice-presidential debate I missed last night. Hoo-boy. I can’t figure out who is more frightening—the leering giggler or the guy that sweats ice cubes. I sit repeatedly on the toilet that not only has a heated seat, it has a button that, when pushed, will squirt water into your nether regions and then air dry them. I am deeply in love with my hotel toilet.

I wander the casino to pursue my favorite hobby: watching people. And while Disney World is the Official Homeland of Freakshows, I think Vegas qualifies for the silver medal.

Fact: dudes love Vegas. Just love it. I watch them walk through the casino, beers in hand, grinning from ear to ear. They look like they’ve had an Aniston/Jolie sandwich. What man-crack is Vegas selling? And where can I get some?

I also notice that Asian men travel in packs. Doesn’t matter what part of Asia—Korea, India, China, Japan—all are representing here.  Apparently, Vegas is like a childhood clubhouse: No Girls Allowed. They wander, like wolves, shoulder-to-shoulder. This makes me wonder. I don’t see packs of white dudes, or Hispanic dudes, or black dudes, so why do Asians travel in packs?

I meet my husband, post-conference. We immediately lose 250$ at blackjack (ps: Dealer Donna at the Monte Carlo—bad karma coming to you, skank). Most expensive “free” cocktail ever. But that’s okay. Dinner happens. Good things happen after that. It’s my husband’s birthday; all is lovely.

Day 3: Sun! I jump out of bed and run to the pool, so thrilled at the amicable weather that I ignore the magic toilet. I pretend to read a magazine and watch several women seethe at their husbands poolside. You can feel the chill, they’re so pissed.

“What’s up with the angry wives?” I ask my husband.

He takes a swig of ice water and laughs. “Easy. Those are the guys who lost big and then hit the ATM last night. And played again.”

We do not gamble today. I worry about my consistent sore throat, though. It’s been burning all weekend. Must be the smoke from the casinos. I also worry that I’m going to come home from Vegas with what my mother politely refers to as “Honeymooner’s Disease.” Apparently, my husband also loves Vegas. There are no children underfoot. I see Monistat in my future.

Day 4: Up at 4:30 am to shower, pack and catch flight in pitch black. Everyone on the flight looks like roadkill and most of them pass out before the plane even takes off. Homecoming Mission #1: pay attention to the Minxes, who yap and claw and run around like jittery dogs as soon as we hit the door. Mission #2: take a shower, because (is it only me?) just sitting on a plane makes me feel dirty and contaminated.

I look down as I slather body wash on my legs and I spy with my little eye…bites. Seven of them, to be exact, but then I look at my other leg and there’s a Whopper, right above my knee. Still covered in soap, I sprint out of the shower, yank open the bedroom door and holler to my husband, “Do NOT open the suitcases! We have bedbugs! Fuckity Fuck! Bedbugs! In a 600$ suite!”

My husband comes upstairs and takes a look at my legs. “Maybe it’s an allergy.”

“It’s not an allergy, jerkwad, it’s bedbugs. I know what these bites are—I slept at my sister’s apartment once in my 20’s.”

He doubts me, so he Googles it. Don’t Google it. Trust me. Instantly, he becomes a Believer. Affirmative on bedbugs.

“Honey, I feel feverish,” I rasp, clad in my bathrobe. “We need to boil all of the clothing and Clorox the suitcases, but after I do that, I think I need to go to bed.”

“You’re just freaking out about the bedbugs,” he says, dutifully placing the washing machine on the highest setting.

“I’m freaking out, but I think I’m going to pass out. I feel…weird.”

Before I take to my bed, I call the Aria Hotel and complain about the bedbugs. A very concerned employee asks for our room number and promises to call back. Nothing. I tweet about the bedbugs, hoping that social media will garner a response. Zippo. And then, suddenly, I am too sick to care about the damn bedbugs.

“I don’t understand!” I wail, clutching my husband’s hand and doing the hot/cold/shivers Tango. “I got my flu shot the day before we left! I can’t have the flu.”

He shuts his eyes and shakes his head. “Jesus. Baby? You do know that it takes 2-4 weeks before that flu shot kicks in, right?”

Dangit, could I get any stupider? Apparently not. But the saddest thing? Compared to other vacations, this one was a success. Gotta love low expectations.

 

*Afterword*:  Still no response from the Aria hotel. Bedbug bites fading. After boiling our vacation duds, we realized that our clothes are now fit for Lilliputians. If you are 4-feet tall and weigh under 60 pounds, email me. I’ve got some lovely vacation apparel to send your way. That’s an expensive 3 days. Must say, though, that the cost of replacing all of our clothes pales to fumigating our entire house to kill bedbugs, so I’m semi-okay with this.

ps: Girls, Monistat is your friend.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby October 22, 2012 at 5:46 am

Wow. So many things I could say. For $600/night I would expect them to wipe my ass and deliver strawberries dipped in gold fairy dust. Good lord. I would fight them until the bitter end about bedbugs. That’s ridiculous.

But on the upside, you got some, had a decent trip and have memories? Right? Right?!?

Also, I’ve been to Vegas once. You nailed the atmosphere. It’s both awe-inspiring and depressing. And even though my OCD is ridiculous, just setting foot in an airplane makes me want to bathe in bleach. They’re petri dishes of doom, although obviously not more dangerous than a $600/night hotel room in Vegas. Get well soon!

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Arnebya October 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’ve never been to Vegas. I will get there one day, but I can damn sure tell you what hotel I will NOT be staying at, magical warmth and spray on my ass or not. I was petrified leaving NY back in the summer that we had bedbugs. I promise you I itched and scratched enough to have actually been bitten even though I hadn’t been. But I’m so serious about this: $600 a night? You motherfuckers will give me SOMETHING. I paid that much and am leaving bitten and cooch itchy from husbandly repetition? Tweet pictures of the bites or something, anything. Something!

The cabbie made me giggle. I wonder how long the men hung around the um, ladies? Heh heh.

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Lyndsey October 22, 2012 at 8:27 am

Too funny…well not really I don’t want you to be sick! We have delt with bed bug bites working in the school’s clinic. So different than head lice that will die if no human blood after 24-48 hours. At least you had a good time before all hell broke loose so to speak ;)

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Samantha Angela October 22, 2012 at 8:42 am

Bed bugs are my worst nightmare.
I’ve never encountered one before, but sometimes the paranoia stops me from sleeping well on vacation.

Did you end up finding any among your clothes and suitcases? Or did the hot water wash destroy them all?

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Samantha,

Happily, our clothes never made it out of our suitcases, so we could boil everything and eradicate any vermin before they invaded the house.

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Phoo-d October 22, 2012 at 9:09 am

What a trip! I have to agree that compared to past vacations, you actually fared ok on this one. Can’t believe that a suite like that had bedbugs. Outrageous.

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 9:28 am

Phoo-d,

I know! No projectile vomiting on planes or anything. xoxo

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Arnebya October 22, 2012 at 10:12 am

No lost expensive electronics! YOU ARE WINNING AGAINST BAD VACAYS! (knock ALL the wood)

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Arnebya,

That, too! Skank Dealer Donna took 250$ but it’s better than two iPhones and iPads!

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Jamie October 22, 2012 at 10:49 am

This might be a dumb question, but how the heck do the bed bugs get in the fancy hotels in the first place? Do they latch on to grimy people? But how do the grimy people have money for the hotel?! It goes against the laws of science!

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Jamie,

European and foreign travelers who have been on trains, planes in hostels? I don’t get it either.

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Contemporary Troubadour October 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Yep, Vegas is its own planet, no question. I’m glad you corralled the bedbugs before they took over the entire house! Something I learned from a friend the other day — freezing bedbugs also kills them. If you have access to a chest freezer you can pop your entire suitcase in (with contents), leaving it in there for a few days will do the job. And no more shrunken clothing.

As for planes as germ incubators … I just got off a flight where the guy one row across and behind me hacked nonstop for three hours. If I don’t come down with his plague, it’ll be a miracle. Hope you are fully recovered soon.

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

CT,

Holy genius, you can freeze them? Dangit, I needed you several days ago. You always know good stuff.

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Contemporary Troubadour October 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I learned the trick too late! (A friend mentioned it in passing about another person she works with who goes on frequent business trips — he ends up in places with bedbugs more often than he’d like, so after one full-house fumigation, he’s been sticking his luggage in the freezer when he gets home to ward off future issues.) Alas, by the time I’d seen your first mention of bedbugs, your laundry was already miniaturized :(. But I figured I’d mention the suggestion if you find any escapees … hopefully not!

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Kristen @ Motherese October 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

You warned us, but I didn’t realize how bad it was. I know you’ve had some doozies in the past, but, to me, this officially qualifies as a vacation that entitles you to another vacation.

Still, it sounds like you and your Hubs enjoyed some, ahem, quality time together. Attagirl.

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Erica October 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Are others cursed if they travel with you? What about when people travel to come visit you?

Husband and I went to Orlando this past weekend and I’ve got to admit that I was a little bit more paranoid because some (all) of your horror stories were playing through my brain.

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TKW October 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Erica,

I don’t think bad things happen to people who visit here. Unless you count the evil geese at the park where I take my daily 3-mile walk. Those are nasty suckers.

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suzicate October 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

One thing is for sure….Your vacations are NEVER boring!
I’m still laughing about the cabbie…ha, can you imagine those Canadian dudes when they realized where they’d been dropped off at?
Can’t believe you got bedbugs at such an expensive hotel.

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Amy R. October 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I will have to apologize to my friend, Renee. When we went to a fancy smcancy hotel for a Target business trip she made me check the bed for bedbugs. Apparently her brother-in-law is an exterminator and told her how to check. I am happy to report we remained bug free, even though I made fun of her for making us check. Never will I doubt her.

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Katybeth October 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm

The tolet made it all worth it tho…right?

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TKW October 23, 2012 at 6:08 am

Katybeth,

That toilet was a thing of beauty.

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Stacia October 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I think the lavender jeggings were the first sign things would go awry. Oh, dear.

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TKW October 23, 2012 at 6:09 am

Stacia,

And you should have seen the backside on that lady. Lavender jeggings were not her friend.

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri November 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. But airports and Vegas provide some of the best people watching.

So sorry about the bedbugs Kitch! Hope it is just a long, lost memory now…

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Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes October 23, 2012 at 5:13 am

Don’t piss of cabdrivers in Vegas. Got it.
Also, I’m emailing this to my friend who is going to Vegas next week. He’s going to need your sage advice.
Sorry about the bugs and the sickness.

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TKW October 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

Tinne,

Tell your friend NOT to eat at the buffets at Circus Circus or the Stratosphere. I never have, but I know people who got wicked food poisoning there. Actually, I’d avoid buffets altogether.

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katrina Kenison October 23, 2012 at 6:41 am

Have been feeling a bit sorry for myself that we didn’t do anything to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. But your tale of woe has served to brighten my day a bit: staying home looks better and better.

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elizabeth October 23, 2012 at 7:01 am

Why haven’t bidets taken off here? I kind of loved the one we had in Spain.

Good to know about Vegas cabbies–we’ve never been so this is a helpful piece of information to hang onto.

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Velva October 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

The bed bugs? That sucks. Really sucks. The bidet (hotel toilet) has me in a fit of giggles.

Velva

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TKW October 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Velva,

That toilet is the greatest invention of all time. It’s a product of the Toto toilet company. We have 2 Toto toilets but not the fancy ones with the heated seats and the bidet action. I do believe I need to rectify this. We bought the Totos because the Minxes pass the poos that could eat both Colorado and Wyoming. I got tired of being “plunger Mommy.”

ps: When the guy came in to install the Toto toilets the first time, he said, “I love Toto toilets. You can flush a human head outta this thing.” Nice.

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TasteofBeirut October 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm

so much fun to read your prose! I’ve been to Vegas once, did not care to return, but hey, maybe for that magic toilet, sans bedbugs! Can’t believe you got such lousy customer service for that price! You could live in a palace in Beirut, I mean palace with a dozen people at your service ready to do anything just anything for you. wow!

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Jennifer October 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

You need to find a nice gypsy woman to remove that curse you’re under.

And now I’m itchy.

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BigLittleWolf October 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

OH.MY.GOD. You guys are really never spared the onslaught, are you. Next time, couldn’t you send the kids to a friend’s house for three days, order in, and stay home? (Stack up on toys and bubble bath. Way less than fumigation, pricey nasty rooms, skanky dealers, and no lavendar spandex required.)

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naptimewriting October 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Genius.

GENIUS.

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 1:49 am

Nap,

You are talking about the toilet, right? Because I still miss that darn thing. It’s now on my bucket list.

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DizzyMamma October 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Sucks about the bedbugs. Sadly, it is not only nasty dives that get them, but also swanky hotels, and pretty much the only way to get rid of them is to close the hotel and funigate every carpet, curtain, matress, chair and sofa in the building – guess this may be why they haven’t been in touch. Especially as they would likely just get reinfested again. You can pick them up in cinemas, offices (and dare I say it on those horrid germ infested planes!)
My mom hates flying as she gets sick EVERY time she flies (though I wonder if she makes herself sick by spending a week telling everyone how sick she is going to get…)

And the toilet…. my friend has that toilet…. a load of us went to her house one weekend and I was pretty much the only person who did not use the ‘accessories’. I just couldn’t do it! I’ll be a Charmin girl till I die, just can’t be doing with the bidet stuff (maybe its the British in me – I’m just a traditional girl at heart!)

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pamela October 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Oy vey. I am sorry that your “best” vacation ended this way. You’re saving your karma up for something good!

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

Pamela,
How are you? I have been thinking of you and wondering if the transition is bumpy or smooth…xo

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Justine October 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

That toilet sounds awesome. We had bidets in Malaysia, but nothing quite as fancy as what you had at the hotel.

And speaking of, I read the title to your post before my flight to Puerto Rico and got really anxious about bedbugs. Thankfully, we haven’t found any, but still, that’s pretty horrific. Guess even expensive suites aren’t immune to these nasty little buggers.

My friend who works for the CDC told me about the bed bug registry – maybe you should warn others about your hotel there since they didn’t respond to you? (http://bedbugregistry.com/)

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 1:52 am

Justine,
I am so going to do that. Take that, suckers!!! Love you.

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Tiffany October 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Dude…that black cloud still hovers. I hope you are feeling better!!

Gabe had scabies two weeks ago…omg, just kill me. And the person who gave it to him.

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 1:56 am

Tiff,

Scabies? Whaddaheck? No child that gorgeous should be afflicted with vermin. Thank goodness it was only one child and didn’t spread to the others. (small solace)

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Dawn October 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Been to Vegas…slept all day (hotel in the next town over because we’re cheap)…and stayed up all night walking around. Cooler that way and more fun..less crowded…but still…bedbugs at a place that expensive? I guess bedbugs have good taste. Would want my money back. Hope things are a little better by now!

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 2:02 am

Dawn,

I have stayed in very sketchy hotels over the years (Hello! My family was poor) and never got any pesky vermin. Even in the Suisse Chalet in some horrible midwestern town. Ah, but that’s the good stuff. Unforgettable.

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Naptimewriting October 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Damnit, woman! Now I feel all itchy. This is worse than people’s posts about lice.

Upside is the freezer tip. Yay for Troubador!

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 1:58 am

Nap,

CT is a genius.

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TKW October 27, 2012 at 2:04 am

ps: love the saucy new photo of you, my beautiful friend.

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