This Aint No Vodka Stinger

This poor kid has a giant bug for a pet.  He used to have a cat, but the bug ate it.  (Image from themorningstarr dot co dot uk)
This poor kid has a giant bug for a pet. He used to have a cat, but the bug ate it. (Image from themorningstarr dot co dot uk)

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.

This isn't funny!  It's sick!  Does anybody have the number for Child Protective Services?  (Image from scientopia dot org)
This isn’t funny! It’s sick! Does anybody have the number for Children’s Protective Services? (Image from scientopia dot org)

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.

Nothing to worry about!  This is photo-shopped right?  It isn't?!
Nothing to worry about! This is photo-shopped right? It isn’t?! (Image from slumz dot Bowden dot com)

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.

The 7 Deadly Sins Series: Nick Valenti – Swim Club Gigolo

Nicky V. hustled.  He went to community college and worked at the bowling alley.  He’d been there long enough to be able to run the whole show.  He sprayed disinfectant in the rental shoes when he had to, but where he really shined was shmoozing the moms who came in to have birthday parties for their little brats.  He’d make sure the bumpers were up and that they kept off the hardwood with the pizza and soda.  Nick couldn’t help but look at those moms with their shiny SUV’s and wish he had some better wheels.

In the summer months, business fell off at the alley and Nicky worked over at the Delcrest Swim Club.  His cousin Jimmy “One Thumb” Valenti was officially the manager, but Nicky did the work.  Jimmy just picked up a check – nine fingers or not, he had no problem with that skill.  Nicky should be so lucky.

Nick was a bit of a player with the lovely young ladies at the pool.  This summer was different.  Nicky was tired of the teenagers, he had his eye on bigger game.

Nicky figured the woman was in her 30’s, and she had him in some kind of trance.  She was built like a centerfold.  Strippers should have studied the way she moved.  Her name was Crystal Light, just like the diet drink mix.  Funny, because her old man looked like he’d never been within a mile of lo-cal anything.  Nicky looked at that fat slob and dreamed of having his life.  As if having a knockout like Crystal wasn’t enough, the round man owned a classic Caddy.  It drove Nicky crazy that this guy had it all, and more chins than a Chinese phonebook.

When Crystal started chatting with Nicky down by the diving well, he thought maybe she was going to hit him up to work on the Caddy.  The trunk lock had been popped and it was held closed with clothesline.  He couldn’t believe that tub of Beefaroni would drive a number like Crystal around a classic car rigged like that.  Where was the justice?

He was trying so hard to look cool that he wasn’t sure he heard her right.  She smiled, then turned and walked away to find her husband at the snack bar.  Nicky tried to recall her exact words, but the sight of her walking away wasn’t helping his thought process.  He was convinced that she wanted Mr. Light turned off for good.

Nick was no murderer, but he kept imagining driving the Caddy with Crystal snuggled up against him.  He pictured himself pulling into the driveway of the Light’s split level over on Belmont Terrace.  He deserved that life.  He’d do it.

That’s how he found himself crouching in a cluster of  rhododendrons at the edge of Light’s property, his fingers sweating as his grip tightened on the handle of the gun he’d lifted from One Thumb’s desk at the swim club.  That 500-pounder-with-cheese was bound to come out of his house eventually, and Nicky would be waiting, swatting mosquitoes.

Nick felt the presence but didn’t even have a chance to turn around before the bowling pin cracked across the back of his skull and knocked him into dreamland.

The man stood over Nick, wearing torn jeans and a badly scuffed leather jacket, scrapes on his hands and face.

He said, “Sorry kid, but there’s already a line formed for guys who want to kill that fat bastard.”

Willie Prader pulled out a Lucky and leaned back down into the shadows of the bushes to light it without being seen.

I’m Not a Helicopter Parent, I’m a Surrogate Child!

"Look at that Thompson kid! A sweater vest?! That's not how you dress for competition!! He's yours Brittany! DOMINATE his sweater-vest-wearing butt!" (Image from

Perhaps you saw the article where the annual Easter Egg hunt in my town in Colorado has been cancelled due to the over-zealous behaviors of some of us parents.  According to the article, in recent years, some of us may have been jumping into the action before the official start of the hunt to make sure our kids got the most eggs.  We sealed our children’s supremacy by finding the eggs ourselves.  It’s a good idea if you really think about it.  I mean, kids have such short legs and they can be distracted by the glory of a Rocky Mountain spring.

You need to FOCUS Brittany!  F-O-C-U-S !!!

It goes without saying that most four-year olds just suck when it comes to competition.  Studies have shown that at that stage of development, children have yet to acquire a taste for the blood of their opponents.  Four-year olds are like…babies!  They need to grow up strong and they need to grow up fast.  Kindergarten is next year and if you’re already behind from going to that mediocre preschool at Mommy’s work, you can kiss the Ivy League schools good-bye.  Then what?!  No kid of mine is going to some damn state school!

Any parent worth their salt knows the only way for a child to ever become a winner, is to have their parents win for them!  Then, when they’re holding the trophy in their stubby little hands, and watching their parents glow with pride, they will begin to understand the joys of crushing their competition (You can assume the parents are glowing with pride, we might be glowing with perspiration from hip-checking that Thompson kid’s loser father into the hedge on the way to grab those two purple eggs).

With the Easter Egg hunting dominated, our happy family can head home to count the spoils of victory.  Sadly, there’s little rest for the victors, as young Brittany has show-and-share in preschool just two days later.  Mom and I are already arranging for Chinese acrobats, flame eaters and jugglers.  The Thompson kid’s parents brought in a live ostrich and the kids got to ride it.  If they think their little twerp is going to beat our Brittany into Princeton ..well…wait’ll they get a load of the show-and-share – that’s all I’m going to say about it.

We’ll see who’s on top when kindergarten starts.  This is war, Thompson.