Batman has The Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor and Spiderman has the Green Goblin.
Every superhero has an archenemy. Sometimes the superhero wins, sometimes the archenemy wins. Both sides spend an inordinate amount of time scheming on how to get rid of each other.
Archenemies plan elaborate traps that will lead to the death of the superhero. The superhero, for the most part, wants the criminal brought to justice. Unfortunately, eliminating one supervillain leaves an immediate opening for a new one to emerge.
This leads us to my annual battle with the mosquito.
Like a classic archenemy, mosquitoes are persistent not going away. Chemical warfare is temporary, depending on which way the wind is blowing. I’m not sure how effective citronella candles and torches are, but they make you feel like you are at a Tribal Council meeting on Survivor.
I’ve had varying degrees of success with sprays and body lotions that help prevent bites, but that doesn’t prevent the little buggers from buzzing around your head. I understand you can avoid the bulk of them by staying indoors at dusk, but how do you do that during the summer in the middle of a barbecue?
If you’ve tried traditional blue-light bug zappers, you know they seem to catch more moths than mosquitoes. Even with a small backyard, you might need five of them.
People have recommended we put up a bat house because their primary diet consists of mosquitoes. Of course, none of those people ever actually installed a bat house in their backyard. Not sure if I want bats diving out of the trees and into the potato salad.
About ten years ago, I upped the ante and installed a gazebo with bug screens. Once the screens are zipped up, it is a virtual fortress. Unfortunately, mosquitoes may not be able to get in, but if they are already in there, they can’t get out either. Neither can your company, which requires them to unzip the screens to exit the gazebo and use the bathroom. Need I say what happens when you unzip the screens?
There are other problems inherent with a gazebo. First and foremost, you have to put the screens up and take them down every year, along with the canvas top. Also, have you ever been inside a gazebo with the wind blowing more than 5 miles per hour? Since they are just hanging screens, they move with the wind, annoying people inside and providing wide openings for mosquitoes hovering outside.
There was only one thing left to do. I bought a free-standing screen house.
With solid panels, a hard metal roof, and sliding screen doors, my Sunjoy screen house is 746 pounds of mosquito-fighting superhero. It’s a massive 12×16 that could conceivably hold a pool table. It arrived in two gigantic boxes with more than 500 screws, bolts and washers. There were more than 100 parts that, when put together after following the 26-page assembly instructions, formed the massive mosquito beating structure.
Of course, this type of assembly is more suited for a young man’s game. My son James, armed with the strength and determination of a 32-year-old, did the yeoman’s share of the work. As a 64-year-old, I was limited in my role, acting more like a foreman and organizer of parts. With my other son Kevin and wife chipping in with additional muscle when needed, we formed a pretty good team.
On Sunday morning, I got a chance to get a good look at it for the first time, and it brought a tear to my eye. In my head, I heard the opening lyrics to Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” and it made me smile: “There she sits, buddy, just gleaming in the sun. There to greet a working man when the day is done.”
Holy Fortress of Solitude, Batman. This time, I think we’ve got it.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.