Squeeze play

Garden party flowersLast Wednesday, we hosted a party out in the back yard for our friends Alison and Ty, who are getting married this weekend. It was a beautiful night—warm, but not too hot—but as dusk fell, the mosquitoes appeared.

“I usually bring bug spray,” said one guest, sputtering as he fled to the kitchen. “Of course, this time I forgot. I’m getting eaten alive out there!”

I thought about explaining Elizabeth Gilbert’s vipassana meditation theory of mosquito tolerance, but thought he wouldn’t be amused.

Later, as most of the guests drifted away, the four of us hosting the party, the guests of honor, and one of their friends gathered in a circle out next to the garden, flanked by tiki torches. With the flames and the bugs, it felt like our own episode of Survivor.

Fueled by sangria, I decided it was time to test whether it’s possible to pop a mosquito by overfilling it with blood. I’ve heard this for years, but have never been able to cultivate the patience or the stupidity to actually try it.

A tremendous mosquito landed on my right forearm. I felt the sucker’s proboscis actually pierce my skin. I breathed deeply, and squeezed the muscle in my forearm as hard as I could, gripping the skin around the mosquito to help drive even more blood into it.

The mosquito’s abdomen swelled, and its hind legs lifted off my arm, wriggling in the air. The remaining guests cheered. “This is a moment made for YouTube!” crowed one guest, who, in his regular life, is a perfectly dignified University of Iowa professor.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), no one had a video camera handy.

Just at the moment when I thought the bug would explode, it pulled back its head with a mighty yank and flew away, wobbling a bit in the air. But within 45 seconds, it was back for more, this time landing on my right bicep. Alison, sitting in the chair next to me, confirmed that she thought it was the same one.

“Go ahead and squeeze,” I yelled. “Grab my arm!”

I flexed, and she took hold of my bicep as hard as she could. Again, the swollen bug lifted up off my arm, this time, rising up so far that all its legs were waving freely, its only connection to my arm its rapidly sucking proboscis.

I flexed harder. Alison squeezed harder. A guest yelled that you could actually see this monster filling up.

And then, once again, it yanked back, probably trying to figure out why it had rated such a feast. It disappeared into the night, taking my blood with it. The next day, my right arm featured four bright blue bruises on either side of where the mosquito bit me.

I searched for corroboration of the myth, but the closest I got to hard information is a message board full of anecodotal nothingness over at Snopes.com.

From now on, I’m just using bug spray. The guerilla tactics clearly aren’t going to work.


5 Responses to “Squeeze play”

  1. 1 arturas June 14, 2006 at 7:20 am

    thank you for your blog, it was interesting to read and to find some interesting information, becouse I am also little bit gardener, it is more experiment, but I like to have some fresh vegetables or to grow interesting plants in my little garden. Good luck in your garden life:)

  2. 2 mipmup June 14, 2006 at 10:26 am

    i’ve often thought of gilbert’s meditation theory, too, though not in this context. this post cracked me up.

  3. 3 Mary June 14, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Genie: I took the What Flower Are You? test and discovered that I too am a Snapdragon. “Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh.” But they forgot to add the part about not liking beets. Thanks for the URL to the Beet Wars. I remain unmoved. :-) Mary

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener June 15, 2006 at 5:48 am

    Arturas, good luck to you, too — I hope your experiments are working for you.

    Mipmup, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hey, I might not be able to afford to go to India, but I can certainly recreate Gilbert’s distractions right outside my back door…

    Mary, you’re most welcome for the link, even if it doesn’t change your mind. Glad we have a flower type in common!

    Thanks to all three of you for stopping by!

  5. 5 Jeanne June 16, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    How much sangria did you have? LOL!

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