If you knew me when I was between the ages of five and nineteen, you know that I was deathly afraid of insects. **Note- please do not critique my naming convention of these creepy-crawlies. I am not studying zoology and I frequently refer to these critters as ‘gross.’
My reactions to seeing a roly poly, spider or beetle were probably quite comical to watch. I would cry, scream, mutter to myself, run away or ‘play dead.’
One of my childhood bedrooms was located in the basement, which is prime spider territory. One year, I actually asked for a Dirt Devil Kone hand held vacuum for Christmas. I called it ‘the spider sucker.’ Please recognize that this shows a lot of maturity on my part. This means that I had to get within one vacuum length of the insect, something that probably saved my father numerous trips to the basement.
I don’t know where my fear of bugs came from. I suppose I can blame society- that seems to be the thing to do these days.
I remember visiting the Hastings Museum in Hastings, Nebraska with my grandma when I was little. The top floor had a large collection of dead insects who were trapped to white paperboard with tiny pushpins. These bugs ranged from moths to large beetles found in Africa. These rather scared me, yet I was fascinated by them. Here were my worst enemies— the Tom to my Jerry, the Coke to my Pepsi, the Hatfield to my McCoy— deemed powerless in front of me. I despised them but I studied them with care, looking for something that would give me an advantage over them. I apparently didn’t realize that my having an endoskeleton and large brain put me in a superior position in nature.
After one such visit, I took a bath at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was a nice warm bath with tons of bubbles and many toys. All of a sudden, I saw something lurking in the tub. It was a dead cricket! How dare such a vile creature invade my bubble castle? I leaped out of the tub with the speed of a cheetah and proceeded to scream for my grandma. We decided that the cricket must have come through the pipes. That was when I decided I was going to switch to showers.
Unfortunately, I was also afraid of stereotypical ‘nice’ bugs. I say this with a sneer. What bug could be nice? I was afraid of butterflies.
I still am afraid of butterflies. The butterfly is a beautiful creature. It flies, it has a cool tongue, but it is still a bug. One time my granny took me to a butterfly pavilion in Colorado. I was TERRIFIED. The end of the museum had a large open space where the butterflies were free to roam around. Patrons were encouraged to let the winged creatures land on them. My granny, aunt and cousins were having a wonderful time, laughing whenever one would land in their hair or on their hand. Me? I was literally in the corner, cringing. Physically cringing. Pretty sure there were some tears were shed, which probably ended up attracting them to me more than ever.
Why am I ranting about bugs? Because I have outgrown my fear. Perhaps I haven’t completely outgrown it, just as one will never admit to outgrowing that favorite pair of jeans. Rather, I have learned to manage my fear and be a functioning member of society.
Case in point- with the recent cooler weather in Omaha, insects are now trying to find their way indoors. I live on the first floor, which means that many of these creepy crawlies have invaded my apartment. Today, I killed two bugs: a daddy long legs and a creepy beetle type thing. True, there was lots of Raid involved, but the fact that I kept my calm means one thing— I’m growing up.