I’ve got a problem with bugs. I always have. As a youngster, the magnitude of my frenzied reactions were generally proportional to the scale of the bugs. The bigger the bug, the louder my squeals and the faster I flailed my arms around like a prepubescent girl on bath salts.
Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve learned to suppress my visceral reactions to the insect world. As the man of the house, I’m expected to dispatch every winged or creeping interloper that comes along. My wife can sit on the couch with her feet up, sipping a Kir Royale, and direct me to the stink-bug on the curtain or the spider on the ceiling. I’m obligated to get a paper towel or small caliber handgun and kill the varmint*. I’ve accepted my role as bug killer with what I perceive to be a kind of stoic grace. I even managed to convince myself that I’m not so afraid.
Then last year, my wife and I were visiting my son in Mexico. After a decadent day of tequila for breakfast and sitting on Lover’s Beach for lunch, we returned to his casa to chill out until dinner. I was getting showered while my wife and son hung out poolside. Just as my shower was drawing to a close, a millipede came writhing out of the drain at my feet, looking for dry land. Loyal readers know that I am occasionally prone to exaggeration, so in this instance, I promise to describe this bug as accurately as possible. It was roughly the thickness and length of a jumbo-size Slim Jim meat snack and had hundreds of churning legs, all trying to get a grip on the slippery tub floor.
The volume and pitch of the screech which came out of my mouth briefly convinced me that the millipede and I had been joined in the tub by none other than Richard Simmons. I quickly realized that Mr. Simmons was not in attendance, as I managed to climb wet and terrified from the tub. I put a nearby trashcan over the millipede and got myself dried off. Since the house was not mine, I assigned the job of killing the little monster to my son – besides, I needed witnesses of the size and ferocity of this creature to make my son and wife stop laughing at me and calling me the p word. In the year or so since then, I’ve come to accept that I am still just as petrified of bugs as I’ve ever been.
Now comes news that over forty people have been killed by swarms of giant hornets in China. The bees are roughly the size of the human thumb (not my exaggeration this time, I read it online). They can fly up to 25 miles an hour, which is a lot faster than I can run, and as I mentioned a moment ago, their stings can be lethal. The silver lining to this is that the bees are in China, way on the other side of the globe, far from my home in New Jersey. I have nothing to worry about.
It’s highly unlikely that killer hornets or their eggs will somehow make it all the way around the world, right? It should be of no concern that thousands of metric tons of merchandise from China gets unloaded on docks here in the USA every single day. Surely there are not sufficient nooks and crannies in the average shipping container of radial tires or lead-painted chew toys to accommodate giant bees or their larvae.
Having reread the previous paragraph, I now know that it’s only a matter of time before the killer hornets invade our shores. I’m taking this opportunity to go on record with the following statement: I hereby resign my position of household bug assassin, effective immediately. In the event of infestation, it’s every man, woman, child and labradoodle for themselves. Residents of my home are encouraged to grab themselves a bedroom slipper or badminton racket and start practice-swatting now, before the Chinese hornets arrive.
*I know there are people who insist on never killing any living creature. For the record, no such person lives in my house. This is an accepted fact and is well known to my dog, who annoys us regularly, but knows when to shut her pie-hole and curl up on the rug. I take some small degree of comfort in the fact that her curious nature and lack of intellect will likely make her the first victim of invading hornets, thus providing me with an additional few moments to seek refuge and arm myself with a spatula or lacrosse stick.