So I was at playgroup the other day when the conversation somehow turned to insects (namely insects each person has encountered here). One relayed the story of how they caught 27 scorpions in their house last year... (my mind was kind of preoccupied observing my kids, but this comment snapped me out of it). "What?" I said in disbelief. Then another chimed in about the, not one, but two tarantulas her kids found in their yard and wanted to keep as pets (and they live a few doors down from us). She said she was deathly afraid of spiders, but her kids really wanted them, so she put up with it until one of the spiders started pulling its hair out from high anxiety and she decided to dump it over the fence when her kids were at school. My jaw grew tense as I listened in disgusted horror. One of the girls noticed my expression and asked, "Have you found anything in your house yet?" "No," I replied in disbelief, thinking they must be hiding in dark corners and gathering strength in order to give me a scare traumatic enough that would send me to the grave. Someone asked what street I lived on. After I answered she said, "Oh yeah, you should run into all sorts of things... make sure any time before you do yard work to check the lawn for rattlesnakes first." "Excuse me?" I replied weakly. "Yeah, they come down from the mountains and get in people's yards, so just look around first." Wonderful, I thought. All this time I haven't been strict about making sure my kids' shoes were on before they ran outside to play in the backyard. Now they're probably carriers of some disease or have some mystery creature implanted under their skin where it will remain until it reaches its next developmental stage and hatches out of its cocoon.
I left playgroup that day with the mentality of someone aware that they were on the verge of having an alien encounter. I wanted to bar up the doors and get my ammunition ready for when some frightful being reared its ugly head and invaded my nest. But the tight feeling subsided a little as all remained safe and life continued on without a battle to save the home front. Then the other night the kids were in bed and I was finishing up the dishes when I thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was coming from the windowsill, so I cautiously approached and pulled back the curtains. My mouth dropped open and my body became rigid as I saw an army of ants that were swarming in and around an open seam in the windowsill. Looking back it probably wouldn't appear as bad to another observer, but in my mind I was hearing the freakish chirping noises from the dreaded insect scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! There were ants of all sizes including the winged variety. I let go of the curtain and gritted my teeth as I contemplated what to do. In the pantry I found all-purpose cleaner ("not toxic enough," I thought to myself), Windex, spray paint, etc, until I finally decided on insect repellent. The application probably proved more fatal because of the drowning aspect and not from the chemical itself, but it was successful. Of course my husband wasn't home to shoulder the extermination duty, but I guess I should learn to face my fears alone.
The next day we headed to the park. It was just another outing until we saw the most gigantic flying insects ever. Let me rephrase. These were the biggest monsters I've ever seen in the air or on the ground; they just happen to be the flying kind. I'm not exaggerating when I say I wonder how they could support their own body weight in flight. These guys reminded me of the little Volkswagen Beetle-bugs in the movie Cars, only not cute. They were like huge, shiny black 8-balls with wings. If one slammed into my head I'm sure I'd get a concussion from the impact. Then as if that wasn't enough, a while later I saw a big shadow pass by from a flying object overhead. I looked up and saw something that made the black beetle-bugs look like common house flies. These things were like the insect version of a 747. I swear they needed landing gear to be flight-ready. I ducked as they swerved and maneuvered in the sky like a fleet of fighter jets getting ready to launch an attack. "OK," I thought, "this is a good time to go home and make lunch..."
Finally this morning I got up and found a surprise waiting for me. As I passed the dining room on my way to get Matt from his crib I noticed something big and brown on the floor. Dismissing it as part of dinner that one of the kids must have thrown from the table last night, I hurried up the stairs to get Matt in hopes of allowing Drew to stay asleep just a little longer. On my way back down I passed the mystery object again, only this time I noticed some wiggling. My contacts weren't in, but as I peered closer it appeared to be some kind of big, long cockroach on its last leg. I wrinkled my nose, clutched Matt tighter and hurried to the other side of the room to the recliner, bruiting about why my husband is never around to give these unwanted tasks to. As I reflected on my options, the thought occurred to me that I could just leave it for Ryan to take care of. But that idea was quickly squelched as I thought of its practicality. The thing was so huge the kids would probably trip on it and then get attacked from disturbing its slumber. As I came to grips with getting rid of it myself, I resentfully took a paper towel and planned my attack. I folded it over and over to increase the thickness that would separate my skin from the wretched insect, but soon the surface area of the towel was smaller than the bug itself, and I had to unfold it to an adequate size. As my arm reached out, my head leaned far away, petrified to feel any sort of contact between us. I was able to gather it up, but not wanting to squish its body and experience the gross sensation of cracking insect gooping between my fingers, I quickly found a plastic bag on top of the garbage and used it as a body bag. As I committed this last act and ended its life, I apologized for killing it knowing it was one of God's creatures, but wished they could all fulfill the measure of their creation out of my sight.