Almost every couple has one partner that is more attractive than the other. The same is true even if you are just out with a few friends. Not to be conceited, but that person is me; no matter the group I am with, I am always the most attractive.
I am irresistible to a population with very specific taste. Unfortunately, that population is not a member of my species. If there is one mosquito or spider at a gathering of 1,000 humans, I will be the one it finds most enticing. I am so appealing to these insects that my husband claims he does not need to wear bug repellant when he is outside, as long as he is with me. Bugs will bypass him completely and I will be swarmed with admirers. He’s not the least bit jealous that I am more attractive than him.
Apparently my attraction has world-wide appeal. I first realized this 15 years ago on a trip to Cozumel, Mexico. It was my first time traveling in winter. Sure, I remembered to pack a bathing suit and sunscreen, but what I never considered packing was bug repellant. Mosquitoes didn’t even enter my mind as I dined outside the night we arrived. I was so happy being outdoors and not shivering that it never occurred to me that Mexican mosquitoes would be feasting on me as I feasted on my dinner. When I awoke on our first, warm, sunny morning in Mexico, I immediately had an uncontrollable urge to scratch my legs. I pulled the sheets back to reveal the source of the itchiness and was horrified. It looked like I had the chicken pox from the knees down! It was Christmas and very few shops on this tiny island were open. We spent the better part of the day wandering around San Miguel looking for a store that would have something to relieve the itching and something to prevent more bites. We quickly learned the Spanish words for pharmacy and calamine lotion. By the time we flew home a week later I was relaxed, but my skin was a lovely combination of sunburn red with pale pink polka dots of calamine lotion.
Having learned my lesson from the Mexican mosquito fiasco, I packed plenty of insect repellant when we traveled to The Big Island of Hawaii. We were planning to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo. Travel guides and staff at our hotel warned us about the ferociousness of the mosquito population in this rain forest garden. In the parking lot, I drenched myself in the highest concentration of deet available in the United States. As we approached the visitor center there were warning signs regarding the insatiable appetites of the mosquitoes. They even sold bug repellant wipes along with admission tickets. Knowing the mosquitoes’ allure to me, I decided to double up on my protective coating and bought the wipes along with my ticket. I was sure I’d be invisible to the bugs since I’d used a layering approach. How wrong I was! While I was admiring ginger plants and tropical foliage, word spread to the blood-sucking residents that a tasty treat had entered into their world. They were merciless in their pursuit of me; getting into my ears and inside my clothing, biting me in places I had never been bitten before. No amount of antihistamine tablets or hydrocortisone ointment offered me any comfort, days later, on the 12 hour flight home.
The older I get the more attractive I become. Even at home in my garden, I get dozens of bites per week. My summer fragrance of choice, Deep Woods Off, makes me less attractive, but I’m still tantalizing to a few die-hard mosquitoes who will not be thwarted. As my attraction has increased with age, so too has my reaction to the insects’ affections. The attention I get from these not-so-secret admirers leaves me thinking about them for days as large, itchy welts develop on my skin. Other people marvel at the size and number of the love bites I am left with. I think they are just jealous because I’m so popular.
I’m not just attractive to mosquitoes; spiders find me to be an irresistible morsel as well. Nothing will deter them from their love for me, but spiders don’t proclaim their desire the same way mosquitoes do. They seem more monogamous because, thankfully, I only get one spider bite at a time. Unlike the small mosquitoes that swarm me all at once fighting for my attention, spiders are stalkers; quiet, unobtrusive and creepy. I never know they were there until shortly after they leave. There is no mistaking it. Spiders make me hotter and redder than any mosquito ever has.
When a bee falls for me, he falls hard. The last time a bee was sweet on me, he captured my attention easily enough, but I swatted him away with disinterest. Unable to recover from the depression brought on by his unrequited love for me, he committed suicide. For me, the sting of our break-up wasn’t so bad; nothing that some ice and an Allegra couldn’t handle. When my husband came home, he noticed a large, red mark on my elbow where the bee was attracted to me. I felt like a cheating wife who had been caught with a hickey. I explained it away as a bee’s mere infatuation with me while I was tending the garden. I assured him it was nothing serious. While I slept, infatuation turned to inflammation. The next morning, my elbow was swollen and had become unbearably itchy. Two days later, I still wasn’t over my encounter with the bee. My husband told me how hot my skin was, and he was not talking about it being hot in a good way. In the end, I needed 2 visits to the doctor and 4 prescriptions to recover from my brief affair with the bee. The sedating antihistamine, prednisone and antibiotics turned me into a zombie who could barely move from the couch for an entire week. Or, was that my broken heart at the loss of the bee’s affections?
My fleeting relationship with the bee proved that if I don’t take precautions, my animal attraction can lead to ITDs (insect transmitted diseases). Mosquitoes in our area carry West Nile Virus. In other parts of the world, the diseases they carry are far more sinister. I use protection whenever possible, but sometimes it just isn’t enough to ward off an ardent suitor. When the strategies I use to protect myself prove useless, I have an arsenal of anti-itch ointments, creams and sprays to use after our dalliances are over. I guess I know how the beautiful people in Hollywood must feel. Being attractive is such a burden.