Mississippi Skeeters | HumorOutcasts

Mississippi Skeeters

March 29, 2018

Mosquitoes in the Mississippi Delta, where I lived for 25 years, were so bad that you’re not going to believe me when I tell you.

They were so bad that when they covered the two walls and ceiling of our carport every summer, we could actually hear the eerie hum.

They were so bad that we once thought a friend’s baby had the measles when actually he was just covered in mosquito-bite welts.

They were so bad that our town had not only a fleet of malathion-fogger trucks but also its own mosquito air force for dropping larvicide over the ditches, bogues, and bayous.

So bad that when a relative from New Orleans visited, he said,”You can’t scare me ’cause I live in a city that’s below sea level,” but after he’d spent 15 minutes swatting and scratching while driving us around at night, he said, “You’re right. This is unbelievable.”

So bad that I gave up trying to kill them with flying insect spray or yard fogger because that just riled them up and made them swarm. Seriously.

So bad that I constantly tried new methods to keep them away from our front door. I rigged up two metered sprayers on either side of the door and saturated the door itself with Deep Woods Off. I burned citronella candles and torches and mosquito coilsand I tried electric fans both inside and outside the door and once tried putting a heater outside the door to make the Delta’s sweltering summer sauna even more prohibitively searing for the little suckers.

Whenever my wife, stepson, and I planned to enter or exit the house, we’d gather in a tight pack; I’d ask, Ready?” then violently throw open the door; and we’d all spring together over the threshold and slam the door behind us.

Even with all this, every time we opened the front door, two or three or five or six mosquitoes dive-bombed through the breach.

There were two schools of thought in the Delta about what to do once mosquitoes got into your house. One philosophy was that nothing could be done, that it was an obnoxious but irremediable fact of life that simply had to be accepted—like Republicans. One such disciple in this faith was the aforementioned friend with the measle-y baby.

But in our household this thinking was heresy; we didn’t believe in mosquito-bite martyrdom. We kept two flyswatters and a can of flying insect killer just inside the front door. After we leaped in and slammed the door, we’d each grab a weapon and scan the walls. We all got pretty good at grabbing mosquitoes out of the air with one-handed squeezes or two-handed claps, but smashing them against the wall was a higher-percentage kill. Often after a wall kill, particularly a bloody one, I’d laugh in a theatrical way and then growl, “Leave it . . . as a warnin’ to the others.”

I told you you wouldn’t believe me.

We competed for most kills, and no claim counted unless a visible dead body could be produced. We did not rest. We constantly studied the walls for dark specks, and we routinely ambushed the tiny devils in the showers, one of their favorite spots. We knew their crazed flight patterns, and once we spotted one, we dropped whatever we were doing and hunted it down and killed it. If we were in the middle of a meal or a conversation, that didn’t matter. Sometimes when guests saw us jump up and begin snatching at the air, they would look on open-mouthed—in awe, I’m sure, of our highly honed skill.

Because of these quite-normal, not-at-all-obsessive actions, by bedtime each night we usually had a bloodsucker-free home. But sometimes we didn’t. In the middle of the night, I’d hear a buzzing right in my ear or would wake to a fresh, itchy bite. Others might have pulled up the covers more and tried to go back to sleep, but that’s not what we did in our house. Instead, I’d announce, “Mosquito!” as I jumped out of bed to turn on the light. Then my wife and I would sit up in bed with our backs tightly against the wall to prevent backbites, and we’d wait. We’d wait as long as it took. We’d wait until that pesky little sleep spoiler was a scarlet inkblot on somebody’s hand. That’s when we’d go back to sleep, not before. Only then did we sleep the peaceful, happy, virtuous sleep of the faithful, confident that “God helps those who help themselves.”

Yes, for us during our time in Mississippi, mosquitoes were practically a religion.

Believe me.

Bill Spencer

Bill Spencer's humor writing has been published by Funny Times, Narrative magazine, Reader's Digest, The Sun, The Inconsequential, Clever magazine, Defenestration, The Short Humour Site, Hobo Pancakes, and Nuthouse. He has also published scholarly articles on the novels of Cormac McCarthy and is co-author of an unproduced screenplay, "Angel Pays a Visit." He lives in a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, artist-poet Carolyn Elkins.

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9 Responses to Mississippi Skeeters

  1. April 3, 2018 at 1:40 am

    I believe you. Something else I learned, when I started dating my now-wife, is that mosquitoes are different in different areas of the country. Indiana mosquitoes are an annoyance, but when I got bitten by several southeast Missouri mosquitoes I actually had an allergic reaction. They didn’t live far from the Mississippi, and it was made clear to me that in summer you had to be inside before sunset–or else.

    • Bill Spencer
      April 3, 2018 at 10:31 am

      You are a learn-ed man. Thank you for the warning on the Missouri (pronounced “Misery”) mosquitoes.

  2. April 2, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Even I”M happy you moved out of Mississippi…which I just discovered is a Native American word for Mosquito Hell!

    • Bill Spencer
      April 2, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      I just discovered the name “Cathy” means “pure.”

      • April 3, 2018 at 2:36 pm

        Yes, Bill, yes indeed it does. Go figure.

  3. Bill Y "The Legendary Legend" Ledden
    April 1, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Bill, you have to tell me why four mosquitoes never dive-bombed through the breach? I don’t want to put any pressure on you but The Legend will not sleep until you answer this question and I’m really tired too.

    • Bill Spencer
      April 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Sorry, Bill Y, but that’s a MATH question.

  4. March 29, 2018 at 11:04 am

    ICKKKK! but funny. I am not a good mosquito person. Not only do they make me itch but they are so ugly.

    • Bill Spencer
      March 29, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      They hang on the ceiling or the walls and they suck your blood. They’re tiny, tiny vampires.

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