June 3, 2011

yokels in the city - episode one

The first (of many, I'm sure) "yes I'm clearly not from the city" moment came last week. Actually I've probably had several: smiling at people, saying hi to total strangers, etc, but nothing too serious. But on this occasion I got the definite "you poor country mouse" look, so I know I went a little too far.
As you might guess, we're a little bug phobic in our house at the moment, what with the recent lyme infecting tick thing. Will, in particular (as the bearer of the brunt of the Lyme - meaning he had pull double duty on everything for a while there) is especially, um, sensitive, about small creepy crawlies. There has been some obsessive tick checking of late every time we so much as go near a tree. But being in the city had chilled him out a little. After all, ticks? In New York City? Not likely.

So when, a few evenings ago, I heard his panicky call of "come here quick!" I wasn't really sure what I'd find when I emerged from under the pile of boxes I was unpacking. A terrible news story about our neighborhood (it's not wise, we've found, to watch the news here), a new array of Evie scrawling on the wall? A penitant looking dog or child and a pee puddle on the floor?

No, it was "a tick" on Will's shirt. He'd spotted it while lounging on the couch after a walk with the dog. I knew the drill, grab the toilet paper, smoosh the tick and flush it far, far away from our skin. But as I grabbed it I though, "humm, I've never seen a tick that shape before." I should have stopped there, but, you know, I was the Lyme girl, so I'm pretty icked out by ticks myself.

After it had been flushed away I pondered aloud about the strange pointy end of the tick. "Have you ever seen a tick that wasn't round?" I asked. Out came the iphone (always at the ready) for a search.

Not a tick.


A bedbug.

Now, if you imagine the shiver inducing, nausea creating reaction that I have when I see a tick, multiply that by ten and you'll understand how I feel about bedbugs. Before we moved here I did ample research on them and bought myself a brand spankin new Dyson vacuum because I read that vacuuming well and often was the key to keeping them at bay (ok, it might have partly been an excuse to buy a Dyson). Bedbugs were like the big bad wolf in the forest of New York.

We called the super in a panic, were told they'd send a guy up the next day and then proceeded to blow all of the money on our new laundry machine card washing every sheet, blanket and slipcovers we brought.

The next day, while Will was at class, our doorbell rang. By the way, this hasn't happened before because you have to buzz your way up. I actually thought it was the main door and shouted (It's an ooooooold call box) into the speaker only to hear a "pest control" from the other side of my door. (Yokel moment number one)

The poor man came in and patiently listened to my story and all of the theories that Will and I had come up with since finding the bug. Maybe they were living in the air conditioners that we rented? Or the Radiators? Or they crawled in from the apartment next door? They couldn't have come with us, right? Could we possibly have an infestation after four days in our apartment? (This would be yokel moment number two, panicked oversharing)

"Can I see the bug you found?" He asked.

Uhhhh. Was I supposed to save it? (Yokel moment number three)

After giving me a kind but exasperated "idiot" look, Pest Control Man explained that they had fumigated the apartment just days before we moved in and then he showed me the little (totally empty) traps that he had left under the radiators around the apartment. But still, would I like him to check the couch?

Yes please.

OK, now here's where I got a little too small town in the city. While the guy patiently (and totally unnecessarily) took apart my entire couch I didn't know what to do, so I stood there and tried to chat with him. Because, I don't know, are you just supposed to stand there and watch? He looked up, clearly thinking I was some alien being who couldn't shut up and went back to work. So then I did just stand there. stack of books in hand (I was color sorting my bookshelf because * Will, who makes fun of this habit, asked me to do it since he couldn't find the books he wanted in the random jumble! HA!)

I'm still not entirely clear about what you do when someone is doing work in your oh so small, no where to go and hide, apartment. Ideas? And when I saw him in the elevator today (I guess he works for the University, or lives in our building, not sure which) he had a sort of "oh crap here comes that crazy chatty girl" look on his face. I tried to nod nonchalantly and pushed the button for my floor, not saying a word.

Now this is not to say that I find New York unfriendly. Quite the opposite. Other than the ladies who work at the checkout counter in the swanky and beautiful Westside Market down the street, people have been overwhelmingly nice. From the guy at the hardware store who cut plywood down to make shelves for my pantry to the garbage man who told me "good morning" as I walked the dog today to the charming couple I met in the paygarden last night, New Yorkers seem, on the whole, to be a very kind and helpful bunch. But methinks it will be a while before I can pull off "yeah, I'm a city gal" realistically. Although, someone did stop to ask me directions this weekend. That's got to be a sign. Right?