RALEIGH — Clear some space on Raleighs trophy shelf, a showplace already cluttered with kudos.
Just when you thought we couldnt notch another national ranking, here comes the King Daddy.
Whod have thought we could outdo our title as sixth-best city for a happy marriage, or seventh-place on the list of Americas Can-Do Capitals, or a mention in Tastiest Town of the South?
I mean, how could Raleigh follow being named Forbes No. 1 city for business climate and Mens Healths No. 4 city for porn consumption? Theres a reason were obsessed with top 10 lists. We make em all.
But heres one that really stands out, that people will remember, that we can print on a banner and hang on a streetlamp:
Raleigh made Orkins top 50 bedbug cities. Were No. 15. And Charlotte? Way, way, way, way down the list at a lowly No. 43.
Let me drop the sarcasm for a moment and say that bedbugs really are a terrible, blood-sucking menace. They can cause unbearable itching. You can scratch their bites hard enough to get them infected. Theyre hard to eradicate. They turn up a lot in senior citizen housing. Pesticides designed to kill them are often misused.
In poking fun at this national ranking, I am by no means making light of the problem. Bedbugs are bad.
The real target of this column is the mania for appearances on best-of lists, which Raleigh gloats over like a middle-school girls collection of friendship bracelets.
Now back to the sarcasm.
The bedbuggiest city in America is Chicago, followed by Detroit, L.A., Denver, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. Next to Richmond (No. 12), Raleigh can boast the biggest infestation in the entire Southeast. We show up 31 slots higher on Orkins list than Las Vegas, a city with a bazillion more hotel rooms. We show up higher than Houston, where cockroaches grow big enough to drive cars.
Actually, Raleighs No. 15 spot is due to the tally of bedbug treatment calls, so a better explanation could be that Raleigh is just more proactive about bloodsuckers between its mattresses. See, I told you this was a positive.
But the uglier truth is that bedbugs are getting immune to pesticides, and theyre travelers. Entomologists at N.C. State University have theorized that our hometown population of pests could have migrated here from Latin America, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia.
You can go to a friends house, said Bobby Leonard, Orkins service manager in Raleigh. You can go to the store. You can go to the movies. You can take a ride in a bus or somebodys car someplace. If somebody has bedbugs as an issue at their home, and theres a hitchhiker on there, that hitchhiker is going to take a ride and now youve got the issue.
In our defense, Orkin lumps Raleigh in not just with Durham, but with Fayetteville, which isnt any Triangle I ever heard of.
The Parasite Triangle?
But however we got there, were on the list. Strangely enough, the city doesnt include this accolade on its website along with its nod from The Daily Beast as one of the nations brainiest cities.
Were not on the list!
So maybe we can start patting ourselves on the back for the top 10 rankings we didnt make.
You wont find Raleigh on the roster of Americas drunkest cities. Congratulations, Fresno.
You wont find Raleigh in the august company of American cities with the highest likelihood of erectile dysfunction. Thatd be Tulsas territory.
So maybe we can lower our sights, aim for a little mediocrity and hope that next year, Orkin hands us a participation ribbon the humble reward of an American also-ran.
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