But before we begin …
A thousand squealing thank yous to Robin Gott — sorcerer of stage, screen, and scribbles — who has so kindly taken a few minutes off from work to sit in his dressing room and whip out a handful of his amazing cartoons to accompany this post. And for so much more of Robin, visit robingott.com
I think we can all agree that we will never, ever truly be alone.
And for some that is a giant sigh of relief, as being alone is akin to losing your entire family and all your friends—even if they only existed on screen in the form of the cast of Downton Abbey.
But for others, no matter how hard we may try, we discover that we will shuffle on this mortal coil in the company of countless others who clearly have never been invited along.
They make quick assessment of who you are, but mostly where you live, and decide to take up residence—contributing nothing to the upkeep and maintenance, and only adding to your woes.
As I’m pottering about my new abode, discovering nooks and cramming things in crannies, I also discover a great variety of crammed in arthropods—either walking, flying, or in some cases, swimming, depending upon the nook or cranny.
It has been a cycle of either open up cupboard, glance toward ceiling, or focus in on floor followed by squeal, squeak, or shriek.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think bugs are interesting. Fascinating, even. Because who doesn’t want to know how a frustrated Australian seaweed fly finally gets some action from all the disinterested Sheilas around him?
Or how a green spoon worm, happily sitting at the bottom of the sea, can accidentally inhale her husband when she simply suffered from an itch on her nose?
Well, I certainly did.
I’ve read Olivia Judson’s Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation. I took copious notes about virgin births and about paralyzing would-be lovers so that your children can eat him alive. I scoured the sketches of detachable penises, and made sure I understood how one could go deaf from too much mite sex.
But seeing it in real life form, knowing that all that was happening right beneath or above my nose was something else altogether.
Hello, Pest Control.
The jolly folks on the other end of the line proved almost too happy to hear from me.
Infestation? Blight? Chiggery scourge and epidemic? How delightful! We’ll be right over.
Mere moments later, I greeted a six foot three, thin as a pine sapling fellow with a beaming face exuding pure celestial rapture, and instead of shaking my hand, he held up a framed 8 x 10 diploma.
Blessings on you and yours, ma’am. My name is Jebediah, and I just got my certs.
Well, uh … I stumbled, glancing up into the scalding hot sun where his head was haloed, Praise … be?
He beamed sunshine. Yes, ma’am. And then stood, turning to admire his freshly-inked degree.
It’s not been 24 hours yet since the family gatherin’ with coffee and a slice of pie to celebrate my good fortune, but I assure you—
He peered down at me gravely.
—I am fully in charge of my faculties despite sneakin’ that sip of Mama’s cookin’ sherry she hides behind the flour tin in the pantry. Ooowee!
He made to swipe at his brow, and I realized the pest company had sent over a reincarnation of Mayberry’s Gomer Pyle.
I suddenly wondered if this meet and greet should come to a quick end, as a few steps farther into the house he would be received by my own set of not-quite-choir-boy-bottles. Well over one hundred of all the Bens and Glens from Scotland, neatly lining an entire wall of shelving.
Come on in, Jebediah, I said hesitantly. Let’s see if we can’t cleanse this little dwelling of its demons.
Six steps into the house he did a three-sixty spin, his wide-eyed, slack jawed visage finding my uneasy one.
Ma’am? I saw all the wood from the outside as I was drivin’ up, but I had no idea there’d be all this wood on the inside too.
I looked at him, my head cocked with incredulity. I live in a log cabin, Jebediah.
He nodded soberly and whispered, This was not on the paperwork.
Might want to make a note of it for next time then, I suppose, but I’ll leave you to it for now. I’ll be in my little office if you need me. I pointed down the hallway.
For the next ninety minutes I heard precious little and finally decided to hunt down the biblical bug butcher.
Jebediah? I called out, and then spotted him crouched on the floor in a corner, his hand cradling an iridescent blue-winged dead wasp.
He glanced up at me, his eyebrows crinkling as he sighed. Real butes these guys are, ain’t they? This here is Chalybion californicum—what you all commonly call the Blue Mud Dauber.
Then he held out his other hand with another bug that looked exactly like the first—including the whole dead part. This here should not be confused with his cousin, the Chlorion aerarium—the Steel-Blue Cricket Hunter—as although the same size, one has a longer pedicel, and the other is much more hairy.
Also, he went on, these fellers are worthy specimens, as some of them will rid the environment of crickets and others of the vicious black widow.
I studied the young man for a full thirty seconds as he sighed long and sorrowfully once again, his head bent low over the bugs he was in charge of destroying.
Jebediah? Are you sure this is the right job for you?
He looked up at me and then swept an arm in a circle over his head. You live in a tree, ma’am.
I sniffed. Well … a dead one, really.
He nodded. Exactly. It’s the natural habitat for nearly all of these creatures. It seems … he paused, … it seems a little unnerving that there has been so much death here today. I did not expect such a high body count on my first day of work.
I walked to my bookshelf and then returned to Jebediah on the floor, holding out Dr. Tatiana’s sexpert advice for all bugs.
Here. Read this. Chances are you’ve been far too immersed in the end of the life cycle for all your many legged friends.
Jebediah read the title slowly and out loud, and then looked up at me dumbstruck. A slow smile crossed his face as he tucked the small book into his back pocket and headed for the door.
Word of warning, Jebediah, I added, you might want to keep this behind the flour tin in the pantry too.
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Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up.