Previous Article - X-Entertainment - Next Article --- By Matt - 7/21/'02

Milton Bradley's Beg Bugs game only promised to 'drive you buggy,' but in truth, it almost killed me. I always hated it when somebody bought me a board game for Christmas or a birthday, mostly since I had no friends and it was really hard to persuade my older sisters to play Operation. Bed Bugs was a little different - I actually wanted this game. I'm not sure why, it wasn't all that fun to play and the pieces were incredibly easy to lose. I probably just wanted the little colorful bug figures for use in an insect swarm theme while playing with my regular toys.

I could make my Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader dolls temporarily put aside their differences for the sake of getting rid of the bug infestation. Better yet, I could pretend they were special 'Dark Side Bugs' who caused whomever they bit to turn into Imperial slaves with British accents and an intense knowledge on how to pilot mile-long cheese-shaped spaceships. With Bed Bugs, there was more than meets the eye. Or in this case, compound eye.

The idea was simple enough - there were four differently-colored bugs, so four kids could play simultaneously. Each player would choose a color, and after the game began, the goal was to gather as many of your bugs as possible within the time limit, using plastic salad tongs. The tongs were great because they make this clickity clackity sound, much like chopsticks, and I'm sure everyone remembers how infatuated we were with chopsticks in our youth. I had no idea how to use 'em, and would always eventually turn to my fork for salvation - but any time we went to a Chinese or Japanese or some other Ese Ese restaurant, I wouldn't shut up till somebody handed me a pair of wooden glory sticks. Since most kids found it equally entertaining to chew on chopsticks as it was to play with 'em, they never lasted much longer than dinnertime.

But now, with the Bed Bug Salad Tongs, you could experience that unmitigated glory all year round. Milton Bradley's always been great at endorsing Eastern cultures.

Picking up the bugs was easier said than done, though. Bed Bugs featured an electronic 'bed' that vibrated when turned on, causing the plastic critters to hop around and generally be a bigger nuisance than they would be if they weren't on a jittery, mechanized platform.

So, if you could use your imagination for a moment - picture four, competitive young children playing a game where they had to battle and capture dozens of tiny, plastic bugs. It wasn't pretty. I'm sure Bed Bugs caused many to have their first real fist fight. For me, the price was a little bit worse than a black eye. This blasted game nearly caused me to choke to death. Worst of all, I didn't have anyone to blame but myself. Let me tell you, from a kid's point of view, there's nothing worse than experiencing some form of pain if you can't even make someone feel awful about it.

A friend and I were playing Bed Bugs in my parents' basement, and the novelty wore off pretty quick. We were both admitted cheaters, so it was virtually impossible for us to play anything without a naive third party. Instead, I decided on a far more interesting source of entertainment using the game - a mutual dare. The challenge? We both had to eat a plastic bed bug. Why this seemed like a good idea at the time is up for debate, but I like to think it had something to do with the ungodly amount of Kool-Aid we drank. After the 50th or 60th glass, that stuff's gotta be at least as potent as crack.

Now, considering our age, we didn't have particularly large throats. In fact, I'd wager to say that the entrance to our various intestines and viscera wasn't much larger than the bed bug figure itself. Sadly, only hindsight is 20/20, and we were pretty stupid kids. Or at least I was. My friend was a bit smarter - he faked eating the bed bug, putting on a very realistic performance which I bought hook, line, and yes - even the elusive sinker. The way I figured it, if my friend could swallow a bed could I. It became a matter of pride - this was the equivalent of a college drinking contest, only we replaced shots of Yager with small, plastic insects.

Even at age 5, I would've been better off downing half a bottle of that. I can say with much confidence that the parts and pieces in Bed Bugs just aren't edible at all. I'm not ruling out that they might be given the right garlic sauce, but generally, they're terrible to eat.

As the bug slowly ripped it's way down my throat, I became absolutely positive that death was at my door. I had never felt a pain so sharp, much less felt the inability to inhale oxygen. Suddenly, my life began to flash before my eyes, and that's what saved me. While my past exploits and experiences started rushing through my head in what should've been a final episode clipshow, I realized that I still didn't accomplish my lifelong dream of creating and marketing special Talking Shoes, and bringing them to the very height of fashion. So, on my last breath, I swallowed as hard and as awkward as I could, pushing the bug down my throat and clearing the way for air to once again fill my idiotic piping.

After the danger had dissipated, my friend pointed out a time honored tradition of tragedy plus time equaling comedy. It was his little way of justifying the incredible amount of laughter he hurled my way. I would've retorted, but was too busy bleeding out the mouth. Making matters worse was the fact that I refused to tell my mother what had happened - this seemed like the sort of thing that'd cause her to take a bigger interest in what I did when she wasn't around. It was the type of event that'd lead to raids of my closet and foot lockers, and the reality was that I had to be one of the youngest kids to ever steal porn video from their family's secret hiding places. It's pretty sick to think about, but I saw Hyapatia Lee in Triangle before I knew the times tables. I couldn't risk being caught with that, so the legendary Bed Bugs Incident was forever unspoken.

The commercial featured a bunch of kids playing the game, and acting really grossed out whenever they caught a bug. Well, that's pretty defeatist. I mean, if you don't like looking at plastic bugs, there's a pretty simple solution: stop trying to catch them. The plus side? These kids are prototypes for virtually every type of child that's ever been. Here's a look at the four personalities, and what each meant to the grand scheme of things:

Joey was the kid with all the cool toys. None of the other children particularly enjoyed his company, but they suffered through his horse lips and various atrocities because his parents always supplied the best video games. All of the other kids made fun of him behind his back, but Joey never noticed because he was too engulfed in the personal miseries that came along with looking in the mirror.

Angela, the cool girl, was favored by most boys because she preferred baseball to Barbie dolls. She knew everyone had a crush on her, and she used it to her advantage by asking all the boys to 'borrow' their cool toys. She was a tomboy at heart - a girl who enjoyed the more masculine side of things - but she cleverly disguised herself as a girly girl so nobody would be the wiser. Then, when she got home and nobody was watching - she took big stinking shits while spitting tobacco at the bathroom wall.

Jake ruled the roost - the most popular kid in class. Jake likes to use Joey for his toys, but he insults him every last chance he gets and goes out of his way to break anything he deems Joey unworthy of owning. Joey never complains about it because he likes having friends, but in his secret diary where he makes note of things to do when he turns 30, beheading Jake tops the list.

Betsy's mother is friends with Angela's mother, and a long time ago they made a pact to make sure their kids always remained close. It sucked for Angela, but for a loser like Betsy, this couldn't have been a sweeter deal. A chick with no redeemable qualities whatsoever and whose teeth are the size and general shape of stalagmites doesn't really scream for positive attention, but that's neither here nor there. The other kids tolerate her as best they can, because she's a tattle tale and nobody thinks she's worth getting punished over. Betsy would go on to garner some fame later in life by being the only girl in high school who carried a lunch box.

The thing that really made me want Bed Bugs was the crazy lunatic in the commercial. I always thought he was the same guy from those Dunkin Donuts ads - you know, the one who has to get up really early to make donuts? I found it amusing that he couldn't even get a few hours rest. I probably needed more things to do when I was a kid. Maybe my parents should've enrolled me into Little League after all. I'm not sure if they still make the Bed Bugs game today, but if they do, I've got one piece of advice for you: don't eat them.

- Matt
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