How you know it's bad.

When the doctor says the words "mites or scabies" and you think, "Thank God he's not saying 'bedbugs,'" even though you're still sure that those now-huge, inflamed bites on your arms were, in fact, made by the Welsh bedbugs you're now sure you've carried back into your own dwelling by means of your suitcase, or your sweaters, or your shoes, or all of the above--and that you've been washing everything all day in very hot, hot water trying to eradicate--then you know that it's just no good, no good at all.

Those of you who have ever known anyone who's had bedbugs know what I'm talking about. Cross your fingers and help me hope that I'm not carrying an infestation around with me. Meanwhile, I'll be the kid in the corner, smearing insecticide cream all over herself ("everywhere but your face," says the doctor) (this cream is also meant to kill crab lice--when I saw that at the pharmacy, I thought a thousand narratives that the doctor might have been thinking: "she was travelling: she was having unprotected sex with wild strangers: she came back with crabs"). What's absurd, of course, is that if it actually is scabies, I'm carrying an infestation around inside me--not in my suitcase, or in my mattress, but in and under my skin. But bedbugs are the evil I know, and in this case, somehow, the evil I know is more frightening than the evil I don't. One of the bites on my arm is now bigger than a quarter, having started out last Thursday as something that looked like a mosquito bite. "This is going to heal, right?" I've been asking the few of my friends who remain.

I find myself thinking all the clichés, chief amongst them: I never thought this would happen to me.

I'd blame this on Aberystwyth, the doctor said. Damn you, Wales! I replied.

It's time to start the smearing. "30g is plenty for one hairy individual," says the package insert. Yes.