by S. D. Craig
The pest control man behind me jumped at the chance. He began yammering to me as he sprayed the grass and the pine straw that surrounded the vegetation around our apartment. Paralyzed, I stood there, Piggly Wiggly bags in both arms, nodding. I feigned interest as he explained what he was doing. My feet fidgeted back and forth as I tried to be polite.
You see, it's my fear of insects. It showed on my flushed face. I did a frantic search for any avenue of escape I could find--a lost child who needed me, a dog running wild, a car rolling backwards out of the parking lot with no emergency brake to stop it, possibly no driver either, or just anything that would get me away from this bug man who held me hostage with his words.
My eyes raked over the lawn for any signs of intruders that could scramble unheeded up my legs. The hair on back of my neck felt prickly, and sweat trickled down the sides of my face under my baseball cap. My sundress, which I'd worn to stay cool, stuck to me.
Then it happened. Again. The vision from my childhood I always hated. The giant grasshopper. Six inches long, that sucker stuck on the top of my tiny bare foot for what seemed like a year out in the driveway. Loud screams brought my Mom running while after much jumping and hopping, I now stood frozen in fear. I remember nothing else after that.
Thanks to the grasshopper, now I have a terror of any bugs that can hop or move faster than I can. So, I ask you, why am I here again living in the South? Is this to be the story of my life?
Locked into place reliving that horror, Bug man Bart, as he referred to himself while chatting, would not shut up. Normally, that isn't a problem for me; I'm willing to listen and grab a story where I can. But not right now, not today. Not with bugs.
Memories flooded me, while I shifted from foot to foot. Days in Florida with my brother when we were young and brave and silly. One night I watched him scorch potato bugs with 4th of July sparklers (his idea). For months, nightmares plagued me after that, with potato bugs resurrecting from that Florida soil to come for us. Until we left Florida, that is.
We moved back to North Carolina, where we were born, and there learned (as every kid did) if we pulled apart lightning bug bodies--we could make pretty necklaces that lit up in the darkness. Do I remember this correctly? Did my sweet southern Grandma teach me this? The one who made the best coconut cake in the world? Back then, I never once thought pulling lightning bugs apart was gross or washed my hands or threw up. I have no idea how we made them stick together, those bodies, nor do I think I want to know, because I would have nightmares about that, too.
Insects and I have not gotten along. Once I grew up, I figured these not very rational thoughts of creepy crawly things would vanish. Poof. Not true.
In my twenties, I was leaving for work one hot summer day in my car with the windows rolled down. Air conditioning was a luxury in those days that I couldn't afford. A grasshopper hopped on in through the window to join me on my way down the driveway. Yelling and squirming, pressing into the door panel, I somehow drove to the neighbor's house. Lucky for me, their son was home. He rescued the grasshopper and me.
I continued on my drive to work that day and couldn't get the thought out of my mind. I shivered. How many times, while out horseback riding, had I seen tarantulas carried through the air by tarantula wasps. You've seen them if you live in Southern California. They're those horrid orange things that look like big mosquitoes that must have been dyed in the same color of Gatorade. How else did they get that color?
No. I shook my head. I didn't want to think about this.
Bug man Bart didn't know how my insides churned, how I felt nauseous. Couldn't I just get out of there before the bugs smelled the pesticide? How was I to know right then I would faint? There, in the bug-sprayed lawn, with all those, well, huge bugs.
The pest control man leaned over closer to me and asked if I was okay.
"Ma'am, you're so pale, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I said, limp as a piece of warm spaghetti. Why was I on the ground, the ground with those bugs?
How fitting it was, if I'm being honest. I deserved to faint and lie there while the little critters crawled over me and laughed snidely across my prone body at each other.
I told my husband later, "Oh dear Lord, who knows what they did to me while I was out cold on that 98-degree summer day."
And, I probably deserved it.
SD Craig is in love with life and devotes her days to writing about it. Born a North Carolina Tarheel, Craig's spent forty years of her life in Southern California and calls it her home. Body image issues are Craig's passion but peek at her E-zines for more articles on relationships, marriage, kids, divorce, family, computers, the internet/chatting, sex and romance, movie reviews--all a part of her repertoire.
Visit SD Craig's E-zine: Loving Your Curves
E-mail SD Craig at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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