Welcome back to “How Should I Know?” – the column that answers the questions that readers are itching to ask.


Dear Mordechai,

I feel like mosquitoes bite me more than they do everyone else.  How do I get them to stop?

Itchy Pulkes


Dear Itchy,

I feel for you.  Every family has one person who seems to attract all the mosquitoes.  There’s always one person who, every time you sit outside, keeps asking, “Why do the mosquitoes keep coming to me?” And everyone else says, “Because you’re the sweetest of all of us!”  And instead of saying, “Awwww,” the person looks unamused and just keeps scratching. 

“Wait; you’re not supposed to scratch it.  That will make it worse.” 

Um, I think that’s poison ivy.  You can’t spread a mosquito bite.

But there are some home remedies that people suggest, such as:

Apply honey to the bite.  That way, bees will be attracted to it, I guess, and they’ll keep additional mosquitoes away.  Also, the honey will discourage you from scratching. 

Take an oatmeal bath.  I have no idea what percentage of oatmeal to water.  I guess just open a bunch of packets and follow the instructions on the back.  I’m also not sure which flavor works best.  Though this might be why every variety pack has some plain ones.  For mosquito bites.

But this isn’t really what you’re asking for.  You want preventative measures.  So tip #1 is: Hang out with someone sweeter than you.  The problem is that all they’re going to do is talk about how much they’re getting bitten.  It might be more worth it to just get bitten yourself.

Another idea is to constantly surround yourself with creatures that eat mosquitoes, such as frogs.  No one’s going to stand around in the dusk and schmooze with you when you’re covered in frogs.  And that way, you can get to go inside.  I should also point out that in Mitzrayim, there were more lice than ever, but not a single one showed up before all the frogs were dead.  Especially the big one.

And if you don’t want to hang out with frogs, another animal that eats mosquitoes is bats.  And fish.  And dragonflies.  And spiders, obviously.  So you get to pick!  There’s also something called an elephant mosquito, which eats smaller mosquitoes.  Your options are limitless!

Another idea is to swat them.  This might sound obvious, but according to recent studies, if you swat a mosquito, it remembers you.  You don’t remember it, but one day it runs into you at the park, and it’s like, “Hey, Mordechai!” and you’re like, “Heeey…  How have you been?” and you hope that whatever it says gives you some clue as to which mosquito it is.  Or that something drastic happens before you have to introduce it to someone else. 

Okay, so that’s not how it works.  The way it works is that they remember that you swatted them and they avoid you.  Or they come back when you’re asleep and bring all their friends. 

Another thing experts recommend is to try to only go outside when mosquitoes are not active.  Such as exceptionally windy days. 

So, that said, if you do need to sit outside, bring out some fans.  You’ll get weird looks from everybody, but the fans will keep the mosquitoes away.  Or suck them into the back and blow them at you.  

Experts also recommend that if you want to stay away from mosquitoes, you should avoid standing water.  But experts also say that the human body is 60% water.  And if you get your recommended 8 cups a day, you’re something like 110% water.  Point is, if you’re not running around and swatting at yourself, you’re standing water.  Don’t stand still.   

You also have to understand what’s drawing mosquitoes to you in the first place.  Mostly they hunt by smell.  If you smell good to mosquitoes, they’ll be attracted to you.  So it always helps to smell worse than the people you’re talking to.  You can have contests.

Mosquitoes also like the smell of carbon dioxide, which is why they like to buzz around our heads.  So try not to breathe too much.  And if you absolutely need to breathe, the smell of mint keeps mosquitoes away, plus it encourages better-smelling people to stand next to you. 

In fact, a lot of foods can affect whether mosquitoes are interested in you.  For example, some experts recommend that you rub a sliced onion all over your body.  It might not keep mosquitoes away, but they’ll definitely end up crying, and that’s a good revenge as any.

And meanwhile, eating dairy products makes you attract mosquitoes.  So that’s yet another reason to look forward to the Nine Days.

Time to ask a shaylah about those oatmeal baths.


Dear Mordechai,

How come whenever I asked questions to adults when I was younger, they said, “I’ll tell you when you’re older,” yet they still haven’t told me. When will I be “older”?

Boruch H.


Dear Boruch,

I’ll tell you when you’re older.

Just a little bit more…

Okay; you’re old enough.  This is actually something adults say when they don’t really want to answer your question at all.  I think they mean, “When you’re old enough that you no longer care.” 

I got that answer too, when I was a kid, and now I’m 40, which is old enough to have forgotten both what the question is and what adult I asked, yet these people are not exactly banging down my door to give them to me.  If forty’s not old enough, then what is?  If I’m old enough to learn kabbalah, I’m definitely old enough to know whatever naarishkeit you were talking about over my head.  

So I would say to call them on it.  If someone ever says this to you, write down your question on a calendar or something, and then, when you’re 40, call the person.

“Hey, it’s me.  Remember like 35 years ago, when you were younger, you and some other adults were laughing at something, and I asked what was so funny, and you said, ‘I’ll tell you when you’re older?’  What was so funny?” 

Chances are they won’t remember this story at all

“It’s okay,” I would say.  “It’s possible that wasn’t you.  I’ll try someone else.”

So really, this whole thing is a scam. 

So the next time this happens, ask them how much older.  Get a date in writing.  Ask them, “Okay, what age do I have to be?  How old are you?” 


Dear Mordechai,

I don’t like how I look in pictures, and I always try to avoid being in them.  What do I do when people want to take a group photo? 



Dear S.,

First of all, avoiding pictures that people want to take of you is selfish.  They want memories of you, for some reason.  Yeah, you don’t like how you look, but the people around you have to look at you all the time.  And they’ve gotten used to it.  If they can handle what you look like in the morning before you’ve completely woken up, they can handle a picture where you’re at least dressed nicely and smiling.  The only one who’s not used to what you look like is you.

And guess what?  The picture looks like you.  Even other people who are not used to you don’t get fazed by it.  You never go to the airport and hand the guy your ID and have him look and say, “Yikes!  Who’s that?”  No, he looks at it and says, “Yup!  That looks pretty much right.”  And then he lets you onto a plane.

Then again, he’s constantly dealing with people who look worse.  You’ve been to the airport… 

So here are some tips for surviving group photos:

- Wear the same color as everyone else.  That way, you’ll all just look like a huge monster with multiple heads.

- Stand in the back and have your head barely peeking out from between two people’s shoulders.  This might be more of a challenge if you’re really tall, but you can crouch down and make it work.  No one will know.  Unless you’re not in the back row.

- Sit in front and hold a kid.  The kid will draw the attention away from you, especially if he or she is crying, and you can hide your double chin or whatever.  If you don’t have a kid, borrow one for the picture.  Then it will definitely take people’s focus.  (“Who’s that kid?”) 

Have a question for “How Should I Know?”  Hold it in front of your face.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.