It's times like these that make me glad I chose journalism over, say, the medical or legal fields.
I got an email last week from Calvin Allen, press officer for the 2012 North American Bed Bug Summit. You read that right, people: There is a 2012 North American Bed Bug Summit, and it's coming up Sept. 6-7 in Las Vegas.
Apparently, what happens in Vegas goes home with you in your suitcase.
And not only is there an upcoming bed bug summit, but as an accredited member of the media, I've been invited to apply -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- for "full and limited access press passes."
I am sooooo there.
Now, before we go any further, you should know that the North American Bed Bug Summit is not an actual gathering of bed bugs. I say this only to spare you the same disappointment I felt once I learned that it's not some rowdy convention of huge, mutant insects who wear plastic name badges, drink too much and end up in bed with half the guests in the hotel. Rather, it's merely a gathering of researchers, government agency workers, international experts, and pest-control industry leaders. Who just happen to wear plastic name badges, drink too much and sleep around.
This year's event (the third annual, for those keeping score) is being called "BedBug University: North American Summit," and it bills itself as the largest national bed bug conference. Largest? You mean there are other bed bug conferences out there? Really?
I guess when you think about it, it does make sense that there would be multiple conferences, since few things (zombies, maybe, or gay marriage) frighten Americans like the threat of these tiny insects. Bed bugs, for the uninitiated, are creepy little parasitic bloodsuckers that, once ensconced, are almost impossible to get rid of and basically make your life a living hell. Not unlike your typical politician.
Organizers say that, at the upcoming summit, experts will be addressing the latest bed bug concerns and methods for tackling this persistent problem. Among the conference presentations will be such fascinating topics as "Bed Bug Prevention Measures in HUD Housing," "Using Genetics to Uncover the Sources and Spread of Bed Bugs" and "A Night Out With the Experts."
This last one is an invitation to conference-goers to join bed bug experts at the hotel's Mexican restaurant for "a casual night of questions and fun interaction." Mmmm, delicious food and sparkling dinner conversation over a species of grotesque parasitic insects. Good, good times.
But the address you really don't want to miss is "Reproduction in Bed Bugs." According to the brief online description of the presentation: "It has long been theorized that traumatic insemination may be one of the primary reasons why bed bugs are unpredictable in the way that they infest a home. Attend this session and understand more about bed bug mating, sperm biology and egg laying."
Leaving aside the part about mating, sperm biology and egg laying in bed bugs, I hadda look up "traumatic insemination" on the Internet, and let me just say that I didn't think it was possible for bed bugs to seem any creepier.
I was wrong.
Organizers of the event promise a lineup of "23 of the leading entomologists, bed bugs and canine experts."
Again, I don't think they mean to imply that "leading ... bed bugs" will be among the 23 invited guests, but rather, "leading ... bed bug experts."
Although, seriously? The chance to interview a leading bed bug? Priceless.
As for the part about "canine experts," this refers to one of the primary methods for detecting the presence of the insects -- canine scent detection. Apparently, dogs can smell the presence of bed bugs, so many pest-control companies use them to determine a bed bug infestation.
Not really sure who they bring in to deal with the resulting flea infestation ...
For those members of the media in attendance, organizers of the bed bug summit promise "unprecedented access" to these bed bug experts. Unprecedented access. Can it really be all that difficult to get hold of a bed bug expert? What, are these people like the rock stars of the entomology world?
Clearly, the 2012 North American Bed Bug Summit promises to be the event of the season. And my pledge to you is that, provided I can actually talk my editors into sending me to Las Vegas next month for this vital and important conference, I will cover this story like it has never been covered before.
Why, I'll be all over this convention like -- well, like a bed bug on an unsuspecting hotel guest.
Speaking of conferences on creepy parasites, Mark Saal is also angling to cover the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., respectively. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.