…Continued from Part 1.
12:45 pm. Under the Canopy, My Bed.
Wake from nap. Start writing blog post. Feel distracted. Look up definition of “campy” to confirm what I already know. Start reading sixteen-part Salon cultural criticism series on the difference between camp and campy. (The fun gay kind, not the outdoorsy kind that describes my life.)
1-6 pm. Canopy Prison.
What starts as cozy quickly turns claustrophobic. Spend entire afternoon under canopy cover while at least 30 mosquitoes buzz expectantly outside the clothes-pinned-shut entry/exit. Waiting. How can they possibly know we’ll eventually emerge from this spot?
Become increasingly irritated and slide into mild depressive state as day plods along. Start feeling extreme empathy for pregnant women on bed rest (a first). I don’t know how I’ll feed myself. Even my simple, bachelorette- grub staple of nachos seems impossible, since I can’t stand being outside for longer than it takes to go to the bathroom, grab another beverage, and shove some flax seed tortilla chips down my gullet.
Begin to question my sanity. Start considering move back to states where life is easy. Livin’ the dream in paradise, my ass.
Finish 16th post in sixteen-part Salon series on the difference between camp and campy.
In frenzied effort to let Hershey back inside the canopy after a pee break without letting the entire swarm in with him, we knock over the open Miller Lite can resting on my planner, spilling half of it on what, 8 hours ago, were fresh sheets. This is the last clean bedding at home, next clean bedding requires trip to laundry mat.
Exit canopy. Confirm the thing I saw and heard the thrashie bird pecking at was a now-ingested baby hermit crab, a pecked-out shell the only remains.
Have FML moment of cursing and fist-shaking. Chastise myself for degenerate lifestyle that includes so many open Miller Lite cans in and around my bed. And for living in such close proximity to the cruel realities of nature.
Decide I must leave my cottage or go insane. I simply cannot be canopied-in all afternoon, evening and night until the sun comes out tomorrow. Plus, what will happen then? Unless the wind picks up, those mosquitoes ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Even though it’s Sunday evening, and I’m not in the position to be wasting money, time or gas, I must leave and try to find an electric mosquito racket. And some Off! I need some Off! After a full year of trying (both in earnest and vain), to avoid using mosquito repellent with DEET, I just need something that will work. I need my life back.
Wash greased-up lemongrass face. Brush clenched teeth. Find appropriate clothing as quickly as possible. Mosquitoes attack my back while changing. Copious cursing. Cannot be bothered with a bra. Put on easy-to-find long hippie skirt and non-matching concert tee. Ugly old flip-flops too, don’t care at this point. Just need to get out of this place. If it’s the last thing I ever do.
Grab dog, money, glasses, Rolling Stone and flee. Extreme empathy for war refugees who have minutes to leave their homes, bringing only what they can carry on their backs. Totally recognize I’m still suffering a first-world problem.
…Eh, maybe more like first-and-a-half…
7:20 pm. Love City Mini Mart.
No electric racket on the shelves. But there is Off! I feel guilt and failure picking it off the shelf. But I’m desperate. So desperate. It occurs to me they might have some rackets behind the counter, so I ask. And my dear friend behind the register produces one. Bless him and his whole sweet Arab family for keeping these in stock. Bless them so so much.
“Hot diggity damn!” I say. “I’ve been living in mosquito hell all day.”
A young West Indian man behind me cracks up. I’m encouraged by the audience, so I continue. “And I’m buying this Off! spray too. I’m kind of a hippie so I always try to use the natural stuff, but I’m desperate.” He laughs some more. My spirits are improving by the second. I’m shown that the racket is both rechargeable (no batteries) and doubles as a flashlight. Hot.Diggity.Damn. Oh, how I love my neighborhood mini-mart.
7:40 pm. Skinny Legs. (bar/burger joint)
My sole mission at this point is emotional eating and brain candy. I’m pleased to hear Squeeze on the speakers and indeed the entire playlist tonight seems to be classic Alternative rock and New Wave. Perfect. I locate a Rolling Stone profile of the Duke Porn Star and order a chili dog, minus the dog. This sparks conversation with my bellied-up-to-the-bar neighbors, as well as the cook. I was just saying this morning that I love how easy it is on the islands to chat with strangers.
I am satiated and about to head home. I order my 2nd beer. Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes comes on and the (lovely) bartender says, “I LOVE this song.” I think, of course you do. She asks the guys next to me what movie this song is from. I’ve got this. I know it deeply down to my bones—pop culture junkie and music snob that I am—but it’s taking a few seconds to come to the front of my mind. But I know it, I know it, I know it….”Say Anything!” I announce, “It’s Say Anything!”
“Yes! Right! THANK YOU,” she says.
“I thought it was Thirteen Candles,” one of the guys next to me pipes in.
“It’s Sixteen Candles. And this song is definitely not from that movie,” I say like the know-it-all that I am. I really can’t help it when it comes to this stuff.
The bartender bring me my next beer and says it’s on her for knowing the movie. Another diggity damn, my stupidly extensive rocknroll/pop culture knowledge makes itself useful for the first time in ages. My tab is blessedly low. Before I leave, the cook — for reasons unbeknownst to me — offers to pay for my next beer, even though I’ve barely touched the one in front of me. I thank him but decline. He promises next time. We’ll see.
I leave feeling warm and fuzzy about my neighborhood, my island, and my life.
9:05pm. My cottage.
The mosquitoes have inexplicably dissipated with nightfall.* This means Hershey can sleep in his own bed, outside the canopy.
I crawl, alone, inside the mosquito net and recline on my beer-damp sheets. Too exhausted to even read, I set about trying to not be awake anymore.
Tomorrow will be better.
DEET, a fully-charged mosquito racket, eight hours of sleep, and a new attitude will all make for a far better day in the life of this particular island girl.
*I’ve since discovered this means they’re Asian Tiger Mosquitoes – the most aggressive and dangerous kind.