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Mosquitoes

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 8/1/2000

Mosquitos Transcript

This is National Mosquito Week, which I don’t think means that we are supposed to stop work and take time to honor the mosquito so much as to stop work and realize that if we aren’t being bitten by one, we’re having a good day. In fact, when I was a child, all my summers could be called The Adventures of the Mosquito and the Kid. For every summer night that I played out, I was always driven inside by mosquitoes. I also spent many restless nights coming in and out of sleep with the buzz of a mosquito circling my body to pinpoint a juicy site for a divebombing. 

There’s nothing worse than being stalked in the daytime, either. I’ve seen upstanding men and dignified ladies brought to the edge of a streak of profanity by the buzzing of a mosquito, so a slapping match starts which can leave a person one step from the loony bin. 

The Romans named the mosquito the word coming from the Latin word “muska,” which means the bolt from a crossbow, since whatever was shot out of a crossbow could fly, buzz, and sting as much as the insect that can also bring a man to his knees. But it was Mrs. Reynolds, my first grade teacher, who gave Tommy Bloodworth his nickname of Skeeter, since on any given day he could pretty much bring her to her knees, too. In fact, I went to school in my little cotton town in Arkansas with several boys named Skeeter. 

The hard fact is that the mosquito hasn’t changed for 200 million years. I guess they are good as snacks for snakes, lizards, birds, and other critters. But I don’t think they were put on Earth for just that. No, I know they were put here to keep us humble. 

Don Marquis, an American journalist, said that a man thinks he amounts to a great deal, but to a mosquito, a human being is merely something good to eat. 

The summer I was nine, my good friend Lily Holmes and I decided to invent a mosquito remedy. We went on the old saying that mosquitoes bite some people more than others because there is something about a person’s skin that can tell a mosquito to take a hike. Lily and I stirred lemon juice with onion juice, put in a dollop of motor oil, and a squirt of my Uncle Bill’s dill pickle relish and painted it onto our skins. Mosquitoes didn’t bite us, but nobody would play with us either, which pretty much taught me that in life, I’d win some, lose some, and go on slapping mosquitoes forever.  

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