Monday, July 9, 2012

an apology to vespula vulgaris

people have their own methods for handling stress—methods that perhaps aren't so much methods as they are involuntary brain responses, the old autonomic nervous system kicking in and doing its job—for determining whether a situation calls for an actual, all-out state of emergency, meaning panic mode has been activated, or not, and figuring out how they will deal with it. it may not be a newsworthy type of emergency, or one that requires lengthy telephone consultations or a trip to the doctor, or the kind that necessitates pressing 911, but it could be an emergency that is little, so little, in fact, that it escapes the notice of most people, but certainly not those for whom it requires immediate attention.

"oh my god, please hurry up! it's huge!" she yells from upstairs.

i don't know exactly when i became the go-to person for this particular kind of little emergency—it was certainly a long time ago—but i know that since i became that person i have had the joy of experiencing many intimate eye to eye and nose to nose moments with several species of buzzing and scampering bugs. i don't bother asking myself why me? because i already know why me.

oftentimes i am the only person—and that's including when there are males of our species on the scene—who will not flinch and just get on with the dirty business. whether it's in my own home, or the home of someone else, if there's a scuttling spider or a flying thing with a stinger coming out of its rear end (or, more accurately, its abdomen) i'm the one who is called upon to remove the intruder.

flying insects, spiders, beetles, centipedes, worms, slugs, ants, and other creepy crawlies don't bother me—they never have. (but i don't like lyme-disease-carrying deer ticks, and i especially don't like nasty black earwigs, with their scary looking curved pincers, that you sometimes see in drains or cellars; you know, those bugs that crawl in you ear, bore through your brain and lay a pile of eggs in there.*)

when the need arises—when errant bugs stray into the house—i am viewed as a kind of insect executioner, although, if i can avoid it, i generally don't execute bugs—i don't believe in execution—i merely relocate the offender.

the time has come. i am being summoned.

"it's in there," she says with a shaky voice, pointing an unsteady finger at the closed bathroom door. (this time it's hannah with insect issues, but it could just as easily have been alex or christina, or my mother-in-law, who is deathly afraid of spiders because she has always maintained she is severely—that's severely—allergic to their venom. i dare anyone to try telling her there are no venomous spiders anywhere near here.)

i am prepared. i have armed myself with a jar and a good, solid, just-in-case paperback.

then it's over. afterwards, i feel a little sad.

i was impatient. i was frustrated. i acted too quickly. i couldn't scoop vespula into the jar, and my attempts to capture the wasp were making it nervous, thus making me nervous (i don't mind bugs, but, like everyone else, i don't look forward to being stung.) i should have removed the screen where the wasp was focusing on its struggle, zigging and zagging and aiming for the light, only trying to get free, only trying to live. (wasps are, after all, beneficial to the environment, and are a welcome predator because they prey upon so many insect pest populations.) i should simply have let it out into the garden.

it's too late for should have, though, because i didn't.

*according to hollywood and nobody else


BavarianSojourn said...

Beautiful writing! You did try to let him out, it's not like you set out to kill him too... :)

Leonora said...

Great story and photograph!
I'm the go-to person in our home by reason of default, not because I'm not squeamish. Daughter #1 has a true phobia. We bought her a bug vacuum from Target's toy dept. when she was about 19, thinking it would help her handle these situations herself. She wouldn't even touch the bug vacuum. When she married, it was a requirement that the guy do bugs.

Jayne said...

"Insect executioner." That's quite a title you've earned there, m! I would have had a challenge for you the other day. A mutant, hard-shelled bee-like creature that's burrowed under the front yard of a friend. There's sand piled a few inches around the entry and exit points of the creature's home, and it was outside of the entry, trying to carry another enormous bug back home for dinner. I was a little afraid to get close, but I had to snap a photo of this... this, thing!

I've got some homework to do still... need to find out what this carnivorous, winged alien invader is all about. And I think we're going to need a good executioner here. ;)