Jerry Zezima: No fly zone

Most people would say — especially in the winter, when insects are vacationing in Florida — that they wouldn’t hurt a fly. Not my wife.

Sue wouldn’t hurt anything else, including me, even though I’m the biggest pest in the house, but she doesn’t like flies.

Or ants. Or spiders. Or any other winged invaders or creepy crawlers that bug the heck out of us once the weather gets warm.

That’s why we have had not one, not two, but three visits from an exterminator.

The first one was Sam, which is short for Samantha.

“I’m the only woman exterminator in our company,” Sam told me. “I broke the glass ceiling.”

“Can’t bugs get in through the broken glass?” I wondered.

“Yes,” Sam answered. “That’s why I’m here.”

“My wife is the only woman exterminator in our family,” I said. “She’s always prowling the house with a flyswatter.”

“People don’t like bugs,” Sam stated. “The best way to get rid of them is by putting traps around the house. The bugs will get stuck in them and die. It also prevents them from laying eggs that produce more bugs.”

Sam put traps in the kitchen and the garage. She also sprayed the outside of the house, including windows, and spritzed the shed.

“What bugs do people hate the most?” I asked Sam.

“Ants,” she said.

“Not uncles?” I inquired.

Sam looked like she was about to spray me.

“Check the traps,” she said. “And call if you see any more bugs.”

Sue, who has better antennae for bugs than they have for us, spotted a spider in the kitchen not long afterward.

“I’m calling the exterminator,” she said.

I didn’t tell her this, but I saw another spider in the bathroom. It gave me the willies because I was afraid I would encounter it in the shower. I imagined being bitten in a sensitive area, being rushed to the hospital and having the following exchange with the attending physician.

Doctor: “It’s pretty small.”

Me: “Listen, doc, I didn’t come here to be insulted!”

Doctor: “No, I mean the bite.”

Me: “Oh.”

I also conjured images of the famous scene in the 1957 sci-fi classic “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” where a guy who has shrunk to the size, ironically, of a bug is attacked by

a huge, hairy, hungry spider twice as big as he is.

The first time I saw this scene, as a kid, I couldn’t sleep for a week.

I related the story to the next exterminator, Ron.

“Spiders are actually good because they eat other bugs,” he said. “I’d say the worst ones are cave crickets and German cockroaches.”

“There are no caves around here, but whenever I make a stupid wisecrack to my wife, there are crickets,” I said. “And I didn’t know cockroaches could speak German.”

“They can’t,” said Ron. “But they cause humans to use bad language.”

Ron did the requisite spraying and left.

A week or two later, I saw a housefly in the kitchen. I smashed it with a flyswatter but made the mistake of telling Sue, who I thought would be proud of me.

Instead, she called the bug company.

Our next exterminator, Steve, said the third time should be the charm.

Like Sam and Ron, he sprayed the perimeter of the house as well as the windows.

“I bet there are no bugs in your house,” I said.

“I live with my parents,” said Steve. “And I have a 3-year-old daughter. If she’s with her mother, she’ll scream at the sight of a bug. If she’s with me, she’ll squash it and say, ‘Look, Daddy, I killed a bug!’ She wants to make me proud of her.”

“I kill bugs in our house so my wife will be proud of me,” I said.

“I’m sure she is,” Steve said. “But you shouldn’t have any more after this.”

“Even if we do,” I said, “I’ll still be the biggest pest in the house.”

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of seven books. His latest is “The Good Humor Man: Tales of Life, Laughter and, for Dessert, Ice Cream.” Reach him at [email protected] or via