I recently wrote about several run-ins with local insects and how I have a rather large aversion to those multi-legged little creatures. (See “Getting Buggy with it in Chengdu.”) As the polar opposite of a bug-lover, I thought I had said my piece and was ready to move on to something more important, or at least more adventurous. Instead, it seems that I have enraged the local minuscule critter population and now I am paying the price for it.
On Saturday, I hosted a back-to-school potluck for the consulate community. (Event planning is part of my gig as CLO. My years at Marsing Middle School, planning fundraisers and organizing the annual 8th Grade Recognition Night gave me a full party-planning toolbox!) We went with a school-theme, as it is appropriate for the time of year, but really, it was just an excuse to get together, enjoy the pool, some fun music and a medley of random dishes. (Potluck in China is hard. Desserts are the go-to dish to bring, as they are easy to come up with here. I, for one, made a cobbler from Tianshui peaches and imported Bisquick. It is the main dishes that cause a problem. No one ever really knows what to bring. In the US, I feel like a casserole would be the dish of choice. I’ve been to enough church potlucks to know that some pasta cooked in cream of something soup, mixed with shredded cheese and topped with crushed potato chips goes over well, whether the event is a holiday dinner or an after-funeral meal This may be one of the only ways you could get both Santa and Death on the same Venn diagram. The only more popular side dish may have been green Jell-O topped with shredded carrots, but gelatin of any color isn’t going to last long in mid-day heat and humidity, so that wasn’t even an option to be considered.) Even if main dishes are a bit more difficult to whip up in Chengdu, the spread was great. We had everything from fried rice to chicken and cuscus to a noodle salad. Any afternoon that consists of full bellies and a full pool should be considered a success!
But, back to the point- the bugs have a vendetta against me.
While I was enjoying the afternoon in the sun, I unknowingly became a bit of a feast myself. (Yes, almost real sun in Chengdu! So much so that I actually came home with the slightest sunburn around the edges of my tank top. As an extremely pasty-skinned person, I merely have to think about sunshine to turn beet red, start to peel and then return to my natural ghostly state. My point is, it doesn’t take much exposure to the giant ball of fire in the sky for me to burn, so I’m not equating Chengdu on Saturday with the tropics by any means, but this is the first bit of color I’ve had since we arrived in May. I’m claiming the weekend as a sunny one.)
The potluck may have been spread on the picnic tables, but I simultaneously served as a walking buffet for the evil that is the bug-world. I didn’t notice it at the time, as I sat chatting with colleagues and enjoying a great mix of pop music from the last three decades, but on Sunday morning, I awoke rather early, scratching my legs as I moved from the world of dreams to that of real life. As I rolled out of bed and got a glimpse of my legs in the mirror, I was horrified. I had somehow contracted the plague overnight!
My legs, the right one in particular, were covered with some serious mosquito bites and welts! The flying, blood sucking inhabitants of Chengdu mean business with their bites. Each welt was swollen, bubbling up into a disgusting puff of tight-skin encircled in red.
I’ve spent the last two days trying to think of anything but scratching my legs, while I can do nothing but rake at them with my fingernails. I know I shouldn’t scratch them, as it only makes the itch worse, but the pain of running my nails up my legs creates just enough relief that I can’t stop. (It is a good thing I was such a goody-two-shoes in school, as I apparently have no self-control!)
As someone who does not normally get eaten alive my mosquitoes (this is usually Thad’s area of expertise), one or maybe two bites is the most my legs ever see at a given time. I can only assume that this abundance of welts is payback from the insects of the city for denigrating their kind in a previous blog post. It seems my buggy little friends have a good VPN and are blog-stalking me, and then taking their revenge on my hapless, normally white but currently mottled red and pink, calves.
Take head dwellers of a world measured in millimeters. Twelve or fifteen of you itty-bitty life forms may have used me as a human smorgasbord over the weekend, but know, I will stand for this no longer. If even one tiny bug shows his face (or creepy, wiggling antennae) in my office in the near future, he will become a mere grease spot on the cover of Chengdoo Magazine.