As I write this, a tiny bug crawls across the glowing monitor of my computer. The fucking bastard.
I was brushing my teeth before going to bed tonight and noticed a many-legged creature crawling on the bathroom wall. "Ugh!" I shouted through the Aqua-Fresh. It was one of those bugs that crawls like a millipede and has what looks like a little set of pinchers on its business end. Instinctively, I closed my eyes, and I swear to god, by the time I completed the "open" part of my blink, it was gone. My toothbrush didn't stop me from shouting, "Whewre tha fuck did ih go?"
These bugs, they move like ninjas, and, like ninjas, you can never be sure of where they are or what their intentions towards you might be. And yet...
And yet, I cannot kill them. For as disgusting as their very existence seems to be to me (I can't help it; they just gross me out), the thought of crushing their little exoskeletons and stopping their little bug neurons from firing just turns my stomach. So I have, over the years, developed quite a talent for corralling bugs onto readily available pieces of junk mail, computer paper, magazines--anything long and sturdy enough to keep the vile thing off my skin--and hauling my ass out of doors ASAP. If you enter a room expecting to find me and find only a few sheets of paper floating in the wake of air rushing out a slamming door, expect my return any moment. I'll be along shortly, obsessively brushing my sleeves, pants, and hair while, at the same time, smiling a self-satisfied smile of one who has spared the tiny life she held in her hands... well, not literally in her hands or really anywhere near her hands if she could help it. Ugh! Is there something crawling on my hand?
Okay, false alarm.
To find the source of this empathy with creatures that make my skin crawl, I must look where I always look for influences on my perception of reality: the movies. In this case, I'd have to say it was the ant in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. This blog does not condone spoilers, but that ant gave his all to help those shrunken brats, and the thanks he got...well, let's just say Andy's sputtering cries ring in my ears as I ferry his brethren to the free air. "If I was shrunk, you'd do the same for me," I whisper along the way...you know, in my mind.
But something about this bathroom bug told me my usual approach wouldn't work. It was just too fast. My job requires me to be aware of fractions of a second of video, so believe me when I say that the amount of time it took for this beast to move the bug equivalent of a football field was no more than half a second. And so in the same instant that I considered going for the Papa Murphy's coupon--no, wait; bigger--the New Classics issue of Entertainment Weekly, I had also realized that that it was no good. Jet Li here would be up my arm and into my hair before I could scream.
So I spit out my mouthful of toothpaste, turned off the light, and actually said, "Good night," closing the bathroom door on my way out.
"He'll be gone in the morning," I told myself hopefully, dismissing any ideas of where he would go, and most especially the idea that he would go into the bathtub. "Why would he even go in there?" I reasoned, grasping, "There's no future for him in the bathtub. None of his friends are there."
And so I was reasonably calm and had grown somewhat accustomed to the idea of my new roommate as I got into bed and decided to read a bit before going to sleep. But it wasn't long before something caught my eye beyond the horizon of my open book. There, on the stark white wall opposite my bed was a big, dark, bug-shaped blob. Closer inspection revealed that it was a box elder-y-looking thing idly following his lazy antennae up the wall.
An agreement like the one I'd reached with Jet Li in the bathroom was out of the question here. This was my bedroom, dude. My bedroom. I sleep here, totally trusting various insects not to walk all over me while I'm unconscious. This guy had already proven his brazenness in hauling his dark, bug-shaped carcass for a leisurely stroll across a well-lit and completely white wall. The balls on this one!
Ah, but he was slow, and that, my friend, earned him a one-way ticket on the paper-bowl train to Front Porchville. Employing the age-old method of trapping the bug under a dome-shaped object and sliding the object down the wall, I got him into the paper bowl and hurriedly unlocked two doors and pulled open a third to arrive on the darkened front porch of my apartment building. There is no light out there, and so I could not be sure of slow-poke's fate. I only wish my human ears could have perceived his bug-shout of gratitude when he found himself surrounded by dirt and flowers and a forest of grass.
Let's say you're a dark bug with antennae. You're out for a walk on a cold, hard, white wall one night and suddenly find yourself in a paper bowl and then, after--okay--a somewhat terrifying fall through space, you are in a lush forest of green grass, with soft soil beneath each of your many feet and bright flowers towering overhead. At least, you think they're bright. Technically, your antennae only tell you they're soft, but you just have a feeling...
You wouldn't even consider going back to that room with the white wall, would you? I mean, you know just the window that would take you there, and the sorry excuse for a screen would barely stand in your way. If you left now, you could be there before dawn. Of course, you'd have to crawl across that mountain range of a lumpy thing on the bed, but it's not like you couldn't stop and rest if you wanted to. Hell, you could take a bug-shit anywhere you like. And you know how much you love spelunking. You could explore that cave you've had your bug-eyes on for days, you know, the one just beyond Mount Nostril, with the white rocks and the steady whoosh of air in and out. You wouldn't hear your bug-self say, "Live in the now, man. You're a fucking bug. Your life is short." Would you? Would YOU?