Sunday, October 24, 2010

Death By Ladybug

Call me morbid, but, in recent days, as I’ve tried to drift off at night, I’ve been convinced I’ll die a violent death while I slumber. My thoughts flood with the prospect of a demise almost beyond imagining:

Death … by ladybug.

They’re everywhere. Before I close my eyes, I try to count how many have taken residence on the ceiling. There’s no real logic in this. It’s one of those “enemy you know” scenarios, like when one counts rabid sheep. My subconscious tells me that if I’ve tallied thirteen, my next morning won’t suck if the same baker’s dozen are still there, and in the same place. It seldom works this way; ladybugs don’t keep the same hours.

You’d think I’d be happy to find them gone. All that does, in truth, is make me fret less about where they were, and a great deal more about where they now are. If they’re not above the bed, my brain tells me, they must be in the bed, and that does little to help me ignore the snooze button.

So I count.

There are, of course, those few lone wolves who skitter across the ceiling, left to right, front to back, shells rattling out an erratic symphony best described as ewww. They do this, making me restart my count over and over, before they come to a full stop in a tight formation directly above my head. I can’t help but think this is by design.

“One, two, three…hey, get back there! One, two…”

These rogues fear no magazine and no vacuum. They may know they’re tempting fate, but they take comfort in knowing they would die with dignity—as I hope I will, when the huddled mass of cowards in the corner (out of reach of the Dyson’s wand and too numerous to measure) swoop down and strip my bones clean while I chase butterflies and unicorns.

Then, as I watch the biggest of the spy-bugs stretch and yawn above me, I begin to worry that, before the full wave comes, an advance party will crawl into my open mouth and do a little Chorus Line, one singular sensation across my taste buds. I don’t know much about ladybugs, but I have read they bear an unpleasant taste.

How, I wonder, does anyone know this?

I’ve never seen Bobby Flay gush about Ladybug Tartare as an appetizer before a main course of Beetles à la King (“The key here, folks, is to maintain a high heat, so they don’t skip around so much, and turn them only once.”) I know not a single ladybug cuisine enthusiast, even though you might expect I would, given I live not far from counties where hounds are considered peers.

Perhaps I’m not adventurous enough, but when I see a vulgar insect, I don’t imagine how appetizing it would be on a toast point with a garlic aoli and a sprig of thyme.

“Patty, you have to try this. It's divine. Just remember...the antennae are garnish.”

I don’t want to eat it. I want to kill it before it kills me. I don’t want my last seconds on earth to be plagued with the realization there’s at least one thing I abhor more than brussels sprouts. So, with few other logical options, I wake Patty. After she clears enough fog from her eyes to feel confident in her you-insensitive-bastard glare, she grumbles, “What?”

I stay silent, but let my wide eyes drift from hers and up toward the heavens.

“Brian, what?”

“Shh-shh-shh. “Look. Up there.”

Her eyes ease up at first, and then leap from what-now to what-the-fuck in a nanosecond, just as they do when she comes home from work and finds I’ve left the toaster on the counter, a skin flick in the DVD player and a tuna-salad-soiled knife in the sink. But this moment is much juicier and preternatural. I’m shitting bricks, to be sure, but she’s shitting townhouses.

The bug nods and waves an armor-clad wing, the insect equivalent of, “Good on ya, love!” Patty does not wave back or exchange any such pleasantry. She’s a turtle now, and the paisley comforter is her cotton shell. I feel her racing pulse in my pillow.

From under the blankets, I hear, “Please, Brian … please get rid of him.”

“Him? How do you know it’s a male? It’s not like he’s pointing at us with a penis and doing a cabaret number.”

“Whatever. Get rid of her.”

“How do you know it’s a girl? It’s not like she’s…”

“Stop! Just get rid of it. Please!”

My vision’s not great, but I think the bug—boy or girl—looks wounded by her remarks.

And this is where I could be brave. I could be my wife’s Russell Crowe, her gladiator. I could grab a candle holder and squish the interloper against the ceiling with a macabre, “Hahahaha.” But another would soon take its place, and then another, and I’d spend the better part of the night naked and stretched out from mattress to ceiling—not one of my better looks. It would also mean I’d need to keep wiping the orange guts from the white paint, and I’d forget my count and have to start all over again.

No, I won’t deal with the ladybugs. I’ll hide under the sheets and hope they won’t rain down upon me, or find a way to squeeze into my eardrum. Let them host a convention to help sort out the ladybugs from the fellabugs. Hell, they can have a no-holds-barred orgy up there. I don’t care. And if, as the prayer goes, I should die before I wake, I’ll at least have better-than-average odds to shed this mortal coil from a sound slumber. I can now sleep, and sleep well, because I now know Patty will not.



  1. I've never had a ladybug infestation. Here we have stink bugs and June beetles. Both give me the creeps. I can see how the ladybugs would do the same thing.

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