A few days ago, I received a call from a stranger. He said he’d found my phone number on a check that had been inadvertently left behind at a store in the Dimond Center. Apparently the young man to whom I had issued the check had forgotten it on the counter there.
The young man’s mother is currently searching for the aliens who sucked most of his brains out when he hit his teens. She’s pretty sure that has to be the reason for such a major lapse on his part. Or, she suggested, he was just being 16.
The gentleman who called me had tried to call from his cell phone while he was still at the mall but his cell phone died. He took the time to copy the phone number down so he could call me when he got home.
I thought about this man the other day as I wondered why I was living in a state where mosquitoes outnumber people one billion to one and most of those billion are in my back yard waiting for me to make an appearance. Thinking about him eased the pain of discovering once again that in Alaska, after a long cold winter without the sun, we get to enjoy wonderful days full of morning, noon and nighttime sunshine only for so long as we are willing to do it from the comfort of that same living room window we stood at to curse the darkness. To actually go out in it would just chance rousing the Alaskan mosquito, a potentially suicidal move.
Last year I put one of those new fangled mosquito magnets in my back yard and I thought it worked pretty well. So this year I got it out early and, following the directions as far as I bothered to read, got it set up while there was still snow on the ground. The magnet works best when it starts early and gets the females who over-wintered under the snow. Having survived an Alaskan winter, apparently nothing short of a nuclear blast now scares them.
In the process of setting up the mosquito magnet I found out a few things. For instance, I should have read all the directions, not just those found in the first two paragraphs. Had I done that I would have found that at the end of last summer I needed to perform certain procedures before storing it for winter – procedures that would have encouraged it to actually work this year.
While I sat on the phone waiting for the mosquito magnet tech line to be picked up by a human being, I took the time to read all the instructions including those on the back page. With no worry that my absence would cause me to miss my turn in line, I would get up, leave the phone on hold, and go do things as I discovered them in the directions. Soon my mosquito magnet was working despite the sound of Musak still coming through the phone.
Now I thought my problems were solved and the mosquitoes would quickly disappear. I was wrong. It takes a while for the magnet to work its magic and while waiting for that time period to be up, the mosquitoes were gaining on me.
My dog is having a nervous breakdown because each time I let him in or out of the house I find myself screaming, “Hurry up! Hurry up!” and almost slamming the door on his tail in an attempt to let only the first three dozen or so mosquitoes in that have congregated on my screen door awaiting its inevitable opening.
So as I sit in my home, a prisoner of the buzzing sound that fills my yard, watching the mosquitoes move into formation as they attempt to lift my mosquito magnet from its position and dump it in the nearest swamp, I think fondly of that man who took the time and effort to track me down and tell me about the lost check.
People like him are what make Alaska special. Mosquitoes are what make Alaskan nightmares. To have one without the other would leave us little to talk about as we sit around in the winter bemoaning the loss of sun and warmth – sun and warmth we felt only from the safety of our houses, held hostage by the mosquitoes that ate Milwaukee.