The first thought that went through my mind when I saw it this morning was, “Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding.”
My second immediate thought was, “Holy crap, it wants to kill me.”
There was a bug in my basement this morning. He was clinging to the wall, spread-eagled (well, spread-bugged, actually), right above where I keep my freshly-laundered shirts. He was yellow and green with a black head and slanted wings, and he was staring straight at me. I didn’t know if he was going to evade or attack.
First off, what the hell? It’s freakin’ January. It’s minus six degrees where I live. If it was July and I went into my laundry room and suddenly found myself eye-to-gazillion-eyes with a massive polychromatic mutant bug, at least it’d be in season. But it’s the middle of winter. I’m terrified to imagine what this thing’s been living on for the past four months. I’m guessing it’s some sort of experimental bug, escaped from some secret government lab somewhere.
Now if you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that on occasion I’ve had to rid my basement of giant Ad-libb3d eating spiders, and when it comes to bugs, I’m truly not a fan. Some entomologists argue that there are approximately nine zillion different species of insects, each one special and wonderfully unique in its own way. Don’t buy it. I find it’s much more useful to divide bugs into four easy-to-remember categories:
Buggus terribilus: bugs with massive, serrated, flesh-tearing jaws
Buggus horribilus: bugs with scary, flesh-puncturing stingers oozing with disease-causing poison
Buggus disgustibus: bugs that exude toxic, germ-infested, rabid yellow slime
Buggus invisibilis: bugs so tiny you can’t even see them but that can still bite you to death when you sleep
That’s it. If anyone tries to tell you there are other kinds of bugs, chances are he’s on their payroll. Look into it.
Given the aforementioned categories, I make it my policy not to kill bugs.
Take last summer, for example, when there was a giant wasp nest on the side of our carport. (By the way, I use the term “wasp” and “hornet” pretty much interchangeably because, frankly, I don’t know the difference.) My vote was to not do anything about it. I told my wife that I take a cosmic view on such things, which is that wasps have just as much right to their tiny niche in the universe as I do. My wife told me to man up and grow a pair.
Truth be told, there wasn’t much I could do about it, even if I wanted to. The wasps didn’t lend themselves to traditional anti-insect warfare. For instance, I don’t believe they ever slept. Mostly they just swarmed around looking pissed off. Spraying them with something would have just annoyed them further.
Moreover, as we all know, conventional anti-bug weaponry is useless. It’s a well-known fact – one that I’m certain I could provide evidence to support if I wasn’t so content with making sweeping generalizations – that there is no official record of one single bug dying from the use of a household bug spray. Most sprays simply cause a bug to lie quietly for about 45 seconds, after which it will spring up feeling renewed, refreshed, chemically-mutated, and now able to fly at supersonic speeds and inject previously unknown poisons into the person who dared interrupt its business.
So, taking the cosmic view, I was all for letting the wasp nest alone, just on the off chance that it might simply up and vanish into another dimension when nobody was looking. And my plan was working fine too, until a group of small neighbourhood boys discovered it.
Believe me, no class of individuals range so far afield from the cosmic perspective as small boys. Rather than leaving things alone, small boys wholeheartedly embrace the doctrine of “let’s do it to them first just in case somewhere down the line it might enter their heads to do something to us.”
Hence my consternation when I came home and discovered four small boys milling near the wasp nest.
The nest had a gaping wound, ripped asunder by a rock undoubtedly launched by one of the small boys. Pieces of dangling, grey wasp paper hung below what was left of the nest, causing the whole affair to look like someone’s drunken attempt to make a papier mache bust of Ludwig van Beethoven. Panicky wasps were milling around, undoubtedly organizing their insect battalions for a counterattack against the homeowner, otherwise known as me.
“Do you know about the wasps?” a small boy asked me.
“Yes,” I replied, “and you shouldn’t throw rocks at them because …”
Because why? I groped for the proper deterrent language. I needed something with an unmistakeable quality of menace while avoiding all those “you’ll-shrivel-up-and-die” clichés. Small boys see through those with the clairvoyance of Jedi masters.
“… because you could get real sick of they stung you.”
Okay, so I’m a little lame on menace.
“They already did sting us,” one small boy said flatly.
“My neighbour died last night. We’re going to look at the body at seven-thirty,” another small boy informed me soberly, without, as far as I could see, relating it to the situation at hand.
“Good God,” I said.
The small boys looked at me, and I at them. I tried to think of something cosmic to say but found myself at a loss for words. It struck me that I should spend more time talking to small boys, who, for all their garishness, live very close to the pith and marrow of life.
Plus they’d probably have the balls to go into my laundry room and face down the government’s secret mutant killer bug. Me, I have to go out and buy a whole bunch of new shirts.