Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So, I went to Los Angeles for eleven days, fifteen years after I'd scurried off to New York. I'd made a list of all the incredible things I could see there that are exclusive to L. A., but unfortunately I was never in the vicinity of the burrito machine.

Why did I go? A myriad of reasons. I like to travel, I have an inquisitive personality, and in the summer New Yorkers can sublet their apartments on Airbnb for roughly triple the rent they pay. It's ironic: for once in my life I was knee-deep in money, but I wasn't in New York. It's like being able to date anybody you want as long as their last name is Kardashian.

Three days after my first Airbnb guest arrived I got this sweet note from her:

Hi there. This could be something unrelated, but i just wanted to let you know that i have a lot of bug bites on my legs that seems to coincide after sleeping in the bed last night. Have you had any problems before?
Isn't that a nice little note? It's so thoughtful that a woman from Montreal would bring BEDBUGS to the attention of a longtime NEW YORKER. It's like Vladimir Putin lecturing Martha Stewart on the many uses of maple syrup.

If you're not from these parts, you should know this is the worst insult you can fling at somebody. Worse than asking a fat person if they're pregnant. Worse than asking your dinner host if they picked up tonight's entrée from White Castle. Worse than asking somebody if they're sleeping with Charlie Sheen, because they won't be dealing with his descendants forty years from now. It's not like bedbugs are constantly on our minds: only the fourteen times a day we see an abandoned couch, chair, pillow or mattress on the sidewalk and we run screaming to the other side of the street.

Of course, my guest thoughtfully doesn't blame me. Those bleeding welts could be "something unrelated." Like, maybe she has a condition that causes tiny insect bites to spontaneously generate on her legs whenever she sleeps at a stranger's home. No blame! The phenomena could just "coincide" with her touching my bedding, like gunshots just happen to accompany P. Diddy on his ventures out to nightclubs.

In my head I composed a similarly-thoughtful reply:

Hmm. This is certainly a quandary. I mean, you say you have bug bites, which causes alarm. But you don't mention the "philosopher" that you met here to shack up with. Are his pasty, pigeon-thin legs similarly bitten? I'm sure you'd have told me if they were. Or do you think my bugs just attack people from Montreal? I wouldn't blame them, but I've tried poutine.

Have I had any problems before? Yes, now that you mention it! The last time I slept there! My legs were dotted like my grandma's bingo cards. I crossed my fingers and hoped they all died, but apparently I should have taken further action. Live and learn!

Instead, I just sent this simple note:

Did you go up on the roof the night before? New York is rather renowned for its mosquitos in August, which is why all the smart people leave.

Your friend in Los Angeles,

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