Silent scourge attacks even elite neighborhoods of Manhattan

Margaret, whose last name we all would recognize, New York Magazine assures us, has a “Scarlet B” of sorts.

To outside appearances, Margaret’s world is good. She is fluent in several languages and speaks French at home to her young son.

Interviewed for a piece in the aforementioned New York Magazine — which is a sign that one has arrived on the oh-so tony Upper East Side of slightly tony Manhattan, a part of humdrum New York City — Margaret wiggled her toes as she sat beneath a Richard Serra.

That would be, to the untony heathen, a sculpture by the well-known minimalist Serra, who works with sheet metal.

If you aren’t getting the picture, the point of all this is that Margaret, who is pleasant, intelligent, friendly and unpretentious, is just better than the rest of us and by a long shot.

She lives, after all in the East Eighties, which means you are honored by her presence. Just ask New York Magazine.

Margaret, though, harbors a dark, dank secret. One so vile that she would not allow the use of her (quite recognizable) last name.

AIDS? Evidently not.

Friend of Eliot Spitzer? Not mentioned.

Interned with Bill Clinton? No. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Stockholder in British Petroleum? Why, the nicest people are, you know.

Is it the Serra? Strangely, it is not a Procrustean peril in which Margaret finds herself.

Wait, though. Margaret, we learn, does not suffer alone.

“Margaret, in fact, is part of a mostly silent community of wealthy Upper East Siders suffering from the scourge,” New York Magazine avers.

The “scourge?”

Does the Black Death stalk the East Eighties? Shouldn’t Edgar Allan Poe, expired or not, have drawn this assignment? And wouldn’t the former have been better in any case?

Well, perhaps the tale is more up the ruelle of John LeCarre.

The people who treat the scourge “trawl around in unmarked vans and are sworn not to divulge their clients’ identities,” New York Magazine informs us. “Co-op boards and building superintendents engage in strict denials. High-priced specialists are enlisted to quietly rid Dior couture gowns, Porthault linens and Aubusson silk rugs” of the scourge known as — cover the children’s eyes and ears now — Cimex lectularius.

Margaret found a savior in a fellow named Jeff Eisenberg whose scrourge-eradication business gets 50 to 75 calls a week from the Upper East Side.

His clients — “customers” is just too earthy a term — are movie directors, hospitals, expensive law firms, schools and “titans of Wall Street I can’t name to you or they’d crush me,” Eisenberg told New York Magazine.

Not even attorneys or physicians guard their clients’ secrets as zealously as those in Eisenberg’s business, it would appear.

What then could it be?

Well, let’s examine the evidence.

We know that the thing that makes the East Eighties not the West Eighties is money, lots of it.

And from where does money come?

Well, these days, like it or not, it comes from the energy industry. Geez, we’re angry that British Petroleum stands to make money despite that little hiccup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course it was only two years ago that the energy industry was blamed for everything wrong in western Colorado, from bad odors to water pollution to habitat destruction to, well, let’s be honest, bedbugs.

Yep, bedbugs. AKA the scourge about which Margaret dare not speak, the awful secret that Jeff Eisenberg never will release (except when asked by New York Magazine.)

Haven’t heard much about bedbugs of late around here, which kind of makes you wistful for the good old days, doesn’t it?


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