Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Love for No-see-ums

My plane flight was perfectly dreadful, but not nearly as dreadful as what would follow. After sitting on the runway in Tampa for over an hour, we arrived above Key West, only to circle it and determine that the weather was too bad to land. This announcement was not surprising, since the turbulence had been bumping my butt right off my seat. The island sports the shortest runway of any airport served by Delta Jets, so the circumstances have to be just right for landing...or everyone dies. We waited for the storm to pass while refueling on Orlando’s runway and then finally proceeded to our soggy, tropical destination. We all clapped and cheered when our Tour de Florida’s Runways was over. We had landed in Paradise.
And then I got eaten alive. HE WAS ON BATH SALTS!!! Just kidding. I didn’t have my face attacked by a man with an appetite for human flesh (*cough*zombie)...but I my legs were attacked by bugs with one.They were also on Bath Salts. In the 20 minutes it took our cab to arrive, I had acquired over 200 bites from my ankles up to my panty-line. The little bastards went up my shorts! Libby received 2 bites. Our bites were 100 to 1. Granted, she had on pants, but bugs have always loved me. I’m pretty sure they have a Tiffany fan club, and their convention was held in Key West this year. 

What were they? I’ll tell you what they were--DEVIL bugs--called “Noseeums.” Get it? No-see-ums. I didn’t even realize they were feasting on me until it was time for dessert. They’re tinier than gnats! Honestly, I’m kind of impressed the were able to work me over like that...the little blood-sucking bandits...
Naturally, I got drunk to ease the itching. Seemed like a great idea at the time.
6:00: We share a bottle of white wine with dinner.
7:15: Libby buys us shots of tequila. “To Key West!”
7:30: I order a rum and ginger at Sloopy Joe’s.
7:50: A Sloppy Joke buys me a rum and ginger and asks, “Can I gaze into your eyes?”
7:51: I reply, “God, no! You’ll probably steal my soul!,” but accept the rum and ginger 
7:55: Sloppy Joke spills his rum and ginger in my proximity, and I make my getaway 
         when he goes for napkins. 
8:01: I meet Andy, a German tourist who politely buys me another rum and ginger and asks if he can practice his English with me. More about Andy later...
8:40: We stumble into a bar in an old to a palm reader, I think...and order a 
         glass of red wine.
9:30: I’m in the bathroom (only long enough to unbutton my shorts) and I overhear I 
          guy complain to the others in line that I’ve “been in there forever.” 
9:31: I come out shouting, “Since you’re in such a damn hurry, I didn’t even take the 
         time to wash my hands!” and then proceed to rub them up and down his face. He 
         cringes and we all laugh.
9:36: To make up for his rude bathroom-line behavior, he buys Libby and I shots of sake (which is an odd
9:40: I order one more glass of wine for the road, and close my tab. 
10:00-11:40: I consume no other alcoholic beverages, but by then it’s too late...

7:30 am: Light and sound are my worst enemy. *DING-DING* No, my text message tone is my worst enemy! Why is it sooooo loud?!--sounds like a freight-train. There’s sand paper in my mouth! Where the hell is the the damn Tylenol?! Oh my God, my legs look like I have 3rd degree burns!
For future reference: getting drunk to ease the itching of Noseeums is a good idea. Getting shit-faced drunk off of a combination of white wine, red wine, rum, tequila and sake, without drinking any water all night, is a very, very bad idea. The latter form of consumption makes the itching worse the next day, because it is then accompanied by a GAWD-AWFUL hangover. 
Saturday I was out of commission. I nursed a hangover and horrendous bug bites while Libby met some friends on the beach. 
This sob story is almost over. 
Saturday night, Libby’s new friend Erin invited us over to her place. We sat outside on the porch and drank red wine out the bottle while Kevin braided Kelsey’s hair with colorful thread, and Erin’s roommate in his 60s, who had a guitar strapped to his back, made us ballon-animals. It was like a scene from a movie, but I was too busy trying not to scratch to enjoy it. I was overwhelmed by the itchiness. 
The following day, through a haze of anti-histamine, I made a decision to accept the itching and change my attitude. Vacation is not the escape from real life that we often imagine. And, in the real world, problems sometimes arise, which is great, because problems mean an opportunity to learn! There was nothing I could do to regain a day and half of lost vacation time; we can’t control time, but we can control our attitudes. I would decidedly make the remaining portion of the trip epic, even if I had to do it all from the condo. 

“The Art of Possibility,” a life-changing book I mentioned in my last post, talks about learning to accept responsibility for the crappy things that happen to us. I didn’t bite myself 200 times, but I could have worn bug spray or educated myself on insects that  frequently pester Key West (see entry ‘vacation-ruiners’ or ‘bugs that hate you’). We are quick to shout, “It’s not my fault!” when misfortune pops up in our lives, but playing the victim forces us to give up ALL of our power over the situation.The book gives the analogy of a board game: if we assume the role of game piece, we are being played and controlled, but by being the board we become the framework for everything that happens in our lives. If the piece lands on NOOSEEUM ISLAND, we can choose for the instructions to say “Rub bites with ice and party till 5am like a badass” OR “Whine until time to go home like a little bitch.” When you are the board, you make the rules. 

The remainder of my time in Key West was more than was transcendent. I look forward to telling you more about it later, blog-reader. See ya next post!

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