The slap didn’t hurt, but the smear of blood across my skin was a sure sign of victory. He may have got the first shot, but I ended that. I killed him. Yes, he was dead all right, and his skinny carcass dragged right along in the path of his demise. It was my first mosquito bite of 2016.

It’s odd how happy a mosquito bite can make you, after a winter that seemed to push out spring. It’s as if you’ve forgotten how absolutely annoying these winged creatures are, and how itchy they will make your skin.

Your first mosquito bite of the spring season is sort of like your first hickey in high school: red, swollen, unsightly and usually a gift from a pest you probably should have swatted (we can discuss why you didn’t another time). You’ll spend the next few days trying to cover it up with creams and lotions because it’s gross.

And yet, there is a pride in you that believes, on some unconscious level, that you have arrived. It’s a rite of passage. That sudden lump of redness means you have endured another Canadian winter to greet the warm return of spring, and all it promises: cold mornings, warm afternoons, the occasional rain shower and nights with your bedroom window opened just a crack.

You are cool, because your blood is on the menu of the bug that knows what blood type is best. It’s a sure sign that you are superior to all those freaks that get through an entire spring-summer with barely a mosquito mark. If this were the LCBO, you’d be in the cool section of really expensive wines because your blood is that high quality, and those “I rarely get bitten” folks would be over by the knock-off brands. You are more rugged, wild even. That’s right, a mosquito bite says you are no city slicker. No sir, you are an outdoorsman. Grunt. Snort. Spit.

And because you are a true Canadian, that happiness will only last a few minutes, because that mosquito’s death has infuriated his small but determined army of thousands who know for a fact you have not been to the drug store this early in the season to purchase a new bottle of toxic bug spray. They know you don’t want to use last year’s can of insect repellent, just in case it lost its potency. Yep. They know. They are aware that you thought seriously about buying a chemical-free, all natural, environment-friendly concoction. When they stopped laughing at your fear of DEET, those pesky creatures procreated like mad to get the next generation ready to obliterate you and your soon-to-be-tanned flesh. Come June they are going to rain down on your parade in a flight of fancy, until you can taste the bug spray that isn’t working. And then, you’ll taste that bug. ‘Tis the season to swallow a bug.

Even the mere memory of mosquito-infested summers past has triggered your sudden urge to do the slaphappy dance, fidgeting and fighting with the air like a drug-induced ninja, convinced you are about to be swarmed, when really there are only two mosquitoes hovering around and they’re just mocking you. It doesn’t matter. They are the two biggest mosquitoes you’ve seen all year. But it’s early in the season.

Don’t you dare complain: you wanted spring.