Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Tuesday I post a new column.
I can’t sleep. There’s a gnat in my bedroom. I’m scared of a damn gnat. It is perhaps the tiniest, most harmless living being in the world, but I can’t sleep if one is in my room. Gnats don’t even bite people. They eat plants, for God’s sake. But here I am at 3am, half-naked and clutching a rolled-up copy of Vibe magazine to defend myself.
My neighbor leaves old copies of Vibe outside her door. Don’t ask. I didn’t. The Vibe pile grows steadily each month. It’s slightly unsettling. I’ll put it back after it has served its purpose.
I can’t see or hear the gnat, and it hasn’t buzzed by my head for 40 minutes or so, but I know it’s still here. It’s waiting until I go back to sleep. Then it will buzz around my ear again and I’ll freak out, waving my arms everywhere and kicking the bedsheets halfway across the room. My pillow will be chucked in a random direction, in hopes of hitting the gnat as it flees.
Then I’ll scan the room and the gnat will have disappeared, and I’ll just sit here waiting nervously. I think it flies low along the floor after I swing at it, to keep from being seen. It’s quite clever for a creature with a brain half the size of a pubic hair. This gnat – worthy foe or not – must be defeated if I ever want to sleep peacefully again.
Don’t ask how long this has been going on. The answer is embarrassing. This gnat has been keeping me awake for three straight nights. Aren’t gnats only supposed to have a lifespan of a day or something? This is a super gnat. This gnat is a superhero for gnats. It’s stealth, like Wonder Woman’s naked plane. Or invisible plane. Whatever. Either way, I’m going nuts.
I know what you’re saying. “Just go to sleep. Quit worrying about it.” You’re a damn fool. Those suggestions are stupid little words spoken by a stupid little person. If I know the gnat isn’t dead, I’ll keep hearing phantom buzzing, even when the gnat isn’t around. I’ll randomly slap the side of my neck for no reason whatsoever, just because I’m afraid the gnat is sneaking up on me. This paranoia will slowly drive me insane.
This is why I’ve always refused to go camping. There’s no logical reason to sleep closer to bugs. If I wanted to sleep near something small and creepy, I’d marry Dakota Fanning. I wish I were a millionaire, so I could buy a special house that seals me off completely from the insect world.
Look at that stupid crap I just wrote. This gnat is making me irrational. If my sanity keeps declining at this rate, I’ll end up like Howard Hughes, wearing kleenex boxes on my feet and keeping jars of my own urine. I can think of far better ways to spend my summer.
There are only two ways this night can end. Either the gnat will reappear and I’ll actually kill it this time, or I’ll exhaust myself and pass out, my neighbor’s missing copy of Vibe still gripped tightly between my fingers.
On second thought, maybe I’ll just take some NyQuil and knock myself out. That seems easy.