Insects are my secret fear. That’s what terrifies me more than anything – insects. —Michael O’Donoghue
This will probably only make sense to those who know me best: I HATE June bugs! I don’t remember when my phobia began, but I’m pretty sure that it’s hereditary since I have early childhood memories of my mom, my aunts, my cousins and my sister shrieking in terror when one would come around on a warm spring/summer night. By the time I was in junior high, the phobia was in full force…as my good friend, Joy, and I would part ways at the street light halfway between our houses. Under this light it would seem that June bugs gathered by the thousands…just looking for young girls with long hair to attack. Of course, we played it cool…walking to the street light, quickly saying our goodbyes and running like maniacs back to our houses screaming all the way! I think it’s their large bodies, hard shells, sticky limbs, drunken flight patterns and the sheer noisiness of the little beasts that send me into a tizzy. YUCK!
Turns out that up until now, my fear of June bugs was strictly theoretical. You see all that time I spent dodging them and screaming about them and running from them was merely child’s play. I had never actually had one land on me. I’ve never had to pull one from my hair. Mostly, when I saw one I ran the other direction and if I came across one on the ground well, I stepped on it and tried not to throw up (it’s that body crushing sound that makes me want to hurl.) This system was my response to these scary critters and while it may not sound like a great plan, it had always worked…that is up until last night….
While sitting around a warm campfire, preparing s’mores on an especially beautiful night I met my fear head on (so to speak, ) but let me back up just a bit–I should probably set this up a little. My kiddos were having friends over and with all the comings and goings I left the outdoor lights on. I wanted parents and kids arriving at our house to have a little light…especially since the bulb in the lamp-post that lights the sidewalk had burned out. This meant the flood light that illuminates the patio and basketball goal was on…for HOURS! It was during this time that a swarm of June bugs made their way to our house. There were so many that my son and his friend took to trying to exterminate the problem by clubbing them with sticks (probably a boy thing) and stepping on them. This was all well and good (or so I thought) because 1. it gave them something to do while they were waiting for every one to arrive and 2. they were killing the June bugs! By the time we were ready to get started I foolishly believed that the June bugs were no longer and issue and that any remaining little beasts would simply move on to someone else’s yard once we turned out the lights. But, NO.
Throughout the campfire we could HEAR the June bugs lurking. Much of the noise came from June bugs running into the garage wall where the light had once been. There was even a loud popping noise when the less brilliant bugs sizzled up in the fire–much to the amusement of the kids. And finally there was the crackling noise of the June bugs beneath MY feet as I moved about helping the kiddos make their s’mores. Each crunchy moment made me want to lose my dinner and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to stomach eating a s’more myself. After about 20 minutes my thoughts drifted away from these horrible bugs and on to the silly ghosts stories that were being told. But wouldn’t you know it…just when I finally got past the situation enough to put together my own ooey gooey, delicious s’more I felt something. No it wasn’t in my hair or on my arm…no the sinister little beast was crawling up my pant leg–ON THE INSIDE!
So there I was with my marshmallow stick in one hand and my fixin’s in the other when I could feel something moving up my leg (darn those wide leg, boot cut jeans.) Okay, I thought, be calm…we have company. We don’t want to panic the children. I’ll just crush it up against my leg and then it will fall out, right? (As I type this I can’t believe those words crossed my mind!) So I quickly transferred everything to one hand and smacked my knee with the other. I heard and felt the crunch. I shook out my pant leg, but nothing fell out. Surely, I had killed the thing! I mean, I hit it pretty hard. I shook my pant leg even more, stepping out of my sandal and using the moonlight to search out the area. NOTHING. Alright, maybe it fell out and I just didn’t see it. Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go with that. Thinking that the issue had resolved itself, I went back to the task at hand and set out to assemble my s’more. As soon as I bit into that little square of goodness that same feeling returned to my leg. This time I couldn’t help but react. I jumped, squirmed and announced, “There’s a bug in my pants!” You can imagine the giggles and fits of laughter. Great. So again I smacked my knee as hard as I could and this time I knew without a doubt that I had succeeded in killing that thing. You can’t deny BUG JUICE! (Excuse me now while I once again try NOT to throw up!)
What I realized last night is that somewhere along the way, I must have grown up. While I still wholeheartedly claim AND proclaim my June bug phobia–somehow I got through that moment. In the past a trauma like this would have completely ruined my night, but not this time. Instead, I shook out my pant leg (again) and what was left of the bug fell out (of course, I immediately stepped on it for good measure.) Then I moved past it. We finished up our s’mores and Steve and I enjoyed chatting by the fire until nothing was left but smoldering embers. It was so peaceful. Obviously, I didn’t want to discover another bug up my leg, but I wasn’t afraid to let my feet rest on the same slab of concrete where the incident occurred. Call me crazy, but this is BIG GIRL stuff! I felt so good and proud of myself (especially after that squishy spot dried on my pant leg.) Sometimes it truly is the little victories…”sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”…and sometimes you just get over it and move on as dignified as possible…BUG JUICE and all!
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25