Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a real fan of bugs. Sure, there are some good bugs, and some that are even beautiful. You’ve got your butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs…they do their thing, and they let you do yours. They’re attractive and graceful. They have a good reputation, and are loved by most. Even I like the little buggers. But then you have your nasty and scary bugs. I’m talking cockroaches, spiders, wasps, centipedes, and any others of those that fall into the creepy category. You know…the ones they make into those B movies where the giant, nasty, scary bugs take over New York City or something. As I’ve aged, I’ve moved from total panic and unnatural phobia to a more manageable panic and strategic planning.
When I was very young, I had a couple of encounters with those nasty and scary bugs that shaped my mindset about bugs. Once when I was around 4 or 5, leaning against the kitchen doorway, I felt a tickle on my neck. My dad said, “Hold still a minute,” and swatted at my neck with the newspaper he was reading. As it turns out, the cockroach had been doing the rhumba on my shoulder, and Daddy saved me from a terrible fate. I’m not sure how long I cried, hyperventilated, or screamed, but it’s a crystal clear memory to this day. Then, when I was around 8 or 9, I was headed out the door, put my hand on the door frame, and out of the corner of my eye, caught a glimpse of a centipede sitting on the door frame, centimeters from my hand. The vision of that skittering creeper is etched in my memory. Again, it was Daddy to the rescue.
During much of my childhood, I was completely incapable of eradicating any of these horrible creatures that may have wandered into my territory. I actually would call for someone else to take care of the bugs that came into my life. The thought of squishing these bugs was unbearable. Most of the real creeper bugs have a hard shell and some meat to them. Feeling them crunch and squish would just be too much for me, even with a shoe between me and the bug. And then there’s the idea of getting close enough to the bug in order to smash it. You run the risk of the bug running up your leg or arm, as soon as it gets wise to your plan to pulverize it. And what if, despite your super vigilant squishing, it lives through the ordeal, and when you peek into the paper towel, or look at the bottom of your shoe, it suddenly springs back to life, and comes after you with a newfound vengeance? Once I lived on my own, and was forced to deal with these tragic encounters independently, I gradually worked up to the spraying, drowning, and even swatting with something long methods of creeper destruction. Then you don’t have to touch them, or feel their bodies imploding at your hand. I sometimes would use the vacuum cleaner to assist in the takedown, but then I developed the irrational fear that IF that bug didn’t completely die before I sucked it up, it could and would surely come crawling back out of the vacuum after I turned it off, and that would never do.
But eventually, you get to the point where it’s you or the bug. You mature to where you can muster up the courage to conquer the creepers on your own. You develop the skills needed to think and act quickly. Time is of the essence, especially with a super speedy variety like the aforementioned cockroach. If you hesitate a moment too long, and miss your window of opportunity, that roach is gone in a flash, only to reappear somewhere else within your personal space at a later time. And the not knowing where it is lurking, or when it will pounce will get you every time. If you plan poorly, and use the wrong equipment or approach, you will also miss your opportunity, no matter how fast you are. You have to do a bit of mental jockeying to convince yourself that you will conquer the creeper, and not the other way around.
So, my most recent encounter with a creeper was on my vacation last week. I was reading in bed, and felt that tickle on the back of my neck. My thoughts rushed back to that awful day when my Daddy saved me from the big, bad cockroach creeper. I jumped out of bed, pulled the pillows away, and there it was. A slim little thing unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was sort of like a cross between a cockroach and a moth and a walking stick. But I could see right away that it had the potential to be a skitterer, and I knew that if I let it get away, I would never be able to sleep in that cabin, not knowing where it was. I knew I had only one quick shot. I also didn’t really want to totally squish this creeper all over my pillow, so my strategy was to do a grab-sweep-squish move and hope for the best. I got a paper towel (aka sword and shield) and took a second to do the mental jockeying I mentioned earlier. Me or the bug. Me or the bug. I grabbed, swiped, and squished, and kept squishing until I got to the toilet, where I made my deposit. I had to watch for a while to be sure he didn’t come flying out of the toilet, having survived my attack after all. Nothing. And just to be sure, adding insult to injury, I peed on him, and flushed him down. I was mighty proud that I could get back to my reading, and didn’t even have any creeper nightmares.