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May the Pest Man Win

By Jerry Zezima

My house is bugged. Not with listening devices because the listeners (the CIA, the FBI, Russia) would soon be fast asleep after discovering that I lead a singularly dull life.

No, I mean with real bugs.

This really bugs my wife, Sue, who hates the little critters so much that she prowls the house with a flyswatter, ready to annihilate the latest winged or crawly invader and add it to her daily scoresheet. She is an otherwise gentle person who would, indeed, hurt a fly.

One day, Sue killed nine of them.

“That’s enough for a baseball team,” I said. “I guess they don’t know about the infield fly rule.”

Sue ignored the remark and asked, “Where do they come from?”

“Mommy flies,” I answered. “We should put up a sign saying, ‘No fly zone.’ That would keep them out.”

Sue ignored that remark, too, and used a shoe to smash a spider that was roughly the size of a Chihuahua.

“I’m going to call an exterminator,” she said.

“For me?” I stammered.

“I’ll have to see how much they charge,” said Sue.

A couple of days and a dozen dead insects later, we were visited by Jack the Pest Control Guy.

“My wife says I’m a pest,” I told Jack. “You’re not going to exterminate me, are you?”

“No,” Jack said reassuringly. “I don’t have enough bug spray for that.”

“What’s the critter that people complain about the most?” I asked.

“Ants,” Jack answered. “I find them in basements and bathrooms, on chairs and tables, and in kitchens for sure.”

“Has anyone ever told you that they had ants in their pants?” I wanted to know.

“Actually, yes,” said Jack.

“It must have been a brief encounter,” I said before telling Jack about one of my favorite 1950s sci-fi movies, “Them!”

“It’s about ants that grow to a gigantic size after being exposed to nuclear radiation,” I explained. “They end up in the sewers of Los Angeles and have to be killed with flamethrowers.”

“I guess my bug spray wouldn’t work on them, either,” Jack said.

“If I used a flamethrower to kill the ants in our kitchen, I’d burn the house down,” I said.

“Then your wife would call me back here to get rid of you,” Jack predicted.

“How about spiders?” I inquired.

“We get lots of calls about them,” said Jack. “But they’re actually good because they kill other bugs.”

“They might be costing you business,” I said before telling Jack about another classic science fiction flick, “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” the story of a man who is exposed to a mysterious mist and begins to melt away.

“At the end, he’s so small that he’s attacked by a spider,” I said. “He kills it with a pin that looks like a spear compared to him.”

“I’d need a lot of pins to kill all the spiders I’ve dealt with,” said Jack, adding that he has never seen “The Incredible Shrinking Man” but did enjoy “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”

“Are you married?” I asked.

“No,” Jack said, “but I have a girlfriend.”

“Does she hate bugs as much as my wife does?” I said.

“Yes,” said Jack. “She’ll call me to say there’s a fly behind the refrigerator.”

“Does she expect you to leave work and go home to get rid of it?” I asked.

“Yes,” Jack said. “She’s scared of spiders and ants and things like that.”

“You could be her hero,” I said.

Jack smiled, looked down at his shirt with the pest control company’s logo on the front and said, “She likes a man in uniform.”

“My wife and I are a swat team,” I said. “I find the bugs in the house and she swats them.”

“You should have a lot less of them now,” Jack said when he was finished.

“Thanks,” Sue said. Then she pointed to me and added, “If I find any other pests in the house, I’ll give you a call.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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