Traveling musicians may have more to fear these days than leaving their Strad in a taxi or catching the flu in poorly ventilated airplanes.
A soprano who regularly sings with the New York City Opera Alison Trainer was working in Phoenix around Thanksgiving when she found herself chewed up by hundreds of bedbugs in her Hilton hotel room.
Most of us have never come across this vermin except when our mom would murmur "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" as we drifted off to sleep, but cimex lectularius were commonplace in the "olden days" before hygiene and DDT. And these small, brown, sort of flattened creatures, that look a little like ticks, are making a come-back, most likely because we've all become world travelers and they too travel quite well.
Bed bugs nap during the day, hiding in little crevices, usually waiting for their hosts to return. Once things are good and quiet, the bugs creep out, stick a little funnel-like tube in and suck away. Contrary to what one might imagine, the bugs are not a result of squalor. Cleanliness has nothing to do with an infestation so much as good hiding places and plenty of warm bodies. In fact, pristine hotels are often prime dwellings.
OK, just typing this gives me the heebie-jeebies. It's a subject for a horror movie, and I don't blame Alison Trainer one bit for her fear of ever bedding down again OR for taking the Hilton to task to the tune of six million bucks.
The only thing I'd like to know is why she didn't say anything for a whole week. Not to be overly graphic, but itchy bites and blood on the sheets should probably be a clue that you'd need to switch rooms.
Well, one thing is for sure: gigs or no gigs this year, this soprano has gotten her fifteen minutes of fame. And, if she wins her case, she can probably be a bit choosy about where she stays next time.