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In lieu of launching yet another paean on the annual swelling flood of patriotism, I’ve decided instead to address that relentless summer menace, the mosquito.
In the news recently – a study that discovered who is most likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. Turns out, I’m one of the billions of humans doomed by Blood Type O, which apparently sings a siren song to them.
Sweaty athletes, pregnant women and those who imbibe alcoholic beverages are also irresistible. This is most concerning of course for pregnant women, in light of the increasing threat of the Zika virus.
But we have been battling these tinny shrieking scourges since our earliest days on earth, and this war seems unwinnable by either side.
So if you are going to grill out on the deck, drink a cold one on the veranda, or engage in any activity that makes you break a sweat — I earnestly urge you to first anoint yourself with insect repellent, then strap on some 21st century armor — a long-sleeved shirt made of moisture-wicking fiber.
Happy 4th, and may good fortune attend you as you go into battle.
by John Updike
On the fine wire of her whine she walked
Unseen in the ominous bedroom dark
A traitor to her camouflage, she talked
A thirsty blue streak distinct as a spark,
I was to her a fragrant lake of blood
From which she had to sip a drop or die
A reservoir, a lavish field of food
I lay awake, unconsious of my size
We seem fair-matched opponents, soft she dropped
Down like a anchor on her thread of song
Her nose sank thankfully in; then i slapped
At the sting on my arm, cunning and strong
A cunning, strong gargantua. i struck
This lover pinned in the feast of my flesh
Lulled by my blood, relaxed, half-sated, stuck
Engrossed in the gross rivers of myself
Success, without a cry the creature died
Became a fleck of fluff upon the sheet
The small welt of remorse subsides as side
By side we, murderer and murdered, sleep.
“The Mosquito” by John Updike, appeared in The New Yorker, June 11, 1960 —