Watching My Bug Karma - 08.02.99

Normally, I don't pay much attention to bugs in general unless I'm out at dusk on a summer night getting eaten alive by mosquitos or I see something that resembles a cockroach running around my apartment. Most of the time if there's something in my apartment like a gnat (they seem to swarm around my computer screen, though, when I'm typing away in the dark) or even small spiders, I simply leave them alone. I usually don't even try to smash the larger spiders, and if I can, catch them in a piece of paper or something and set them free in the back yard. I'm not sure what it is, so I just think of it as me trying to keep my bug karma on the good side.

Last week, however, I had three separate instances where I was actually forced to take notice of a bug and deal with the situation. In two of the three occassions, the bug came out on the bad end of the deal, but as you'll read, they were asking for it.

The first instance took place last week when I was out on one of my after-work rollerblading sessions. I had been on the trail for about 2 miles and was breathing quite heavy and steadily (it was damn hot outside) when a rather large bug flew into my mouth and lodged in my throat. I'd swallowed bugs many times before while out on the trail (it's one of the hazards of going out near dusk), but I'd never had one hit my throat the way it had and stick there. I slowed down, leaned my head over and started coughing. Just about this time, another bug somehow flew over my sunglasses and into my left eye.

At this point, anyone going by the trail probably would have wondered just what the hell was going on with me because I was both rubbing my eye and hacking away, trying to clear my throat and eye at the same time. Nobody came by, though, and eventually I could open up my watery eye enough to focus on the sidewalk and see a small black form of some bug encased in a rather large pile of spit that I had just deposited there. After putting my sunglasses back on and composing myself, I took off again undaunted.

In order to understand the second bug story better, I need to fill in a bit of back history. During the summer when it is really hot (90+ degrees Fahrenheit, as it has been) for several days in a row, the bedroom of my apartment never quite cools down to the level that I enjoy sleeping in. I have a window air-conditioner in my living room and because I don't leave it running during the day while I'm at work, I can never pump enough cool air into my room at night when I get home.

Instead of sleeping in my bedroom when it's like this, I simply flip out my couch (it's also a sofa-sleeper) and plop down there for the night until the temperature goes back to normal in my room. Usually it's only a couple days during the year, but over this last stretch I've been in the living room for almost a week now.

Anyway, one night after I had stayed up far too late for my own good working on the computer, I was standing around in my underwear while brushing my teeth with one hand and simultaneously flipping open the sofa with the other. As soon as the mattress had flopped down into place, I saw a rather large dark figure scurry out from hiding and onto my sleeping area. Now, as I mentioned before, I usually don't kill spiders, but given the situation I was in, the only thing I could think to do was grab the closest magazine and let rip on it. One vicious left handed swing later and it was nothing more than a flat mark which I had to scrape off anyway before I could settle down for the evening. I'm a bug-killer, I know it.

The very next evening, I went out to a late-show movie (The Haunting, in case you wondered) with some friends. After everything was over, I came up the back stairs of my building as normal and walked down the hallway to my door. When I was about two steps from the entrance, though, I heard a very very strange noise coming from the vicinity of my left foot, then moving toward my head.

I ducked out of the way and headed back down the hall almost as fast as humanly possible while trying to focus in on what had just come after me. It turned out I had nearly stepped on a locust (didn't see it on the dark hallway carpet) and now it was quite pissed-off that I had put its life in danger. It was flying around, banging off the walls until finally it came to rest on the sill just above my door.

Moving very slowly, I crept up to my door, keeping a keen eye on the rather large, noisy bug that was sitting just above me. I made it into the apartment and closed the door quickly without incident, then proceeded to get ready for bed.

Just before laying down to sleep, my ears perked up and I could hear the locust out in the hallway making its noise and banging around again. When I'd think that it was done, it would start up again even louder as if it knew I was trying to go to bed.

I got up and put on some shoes, then grabbed my trusty computer catalog (the same one used to demolish the spider) and headed out into the hallway. The bug was now sitting on the carpet again and wasn't doing much of anything. Just as I was about to swat it, though, I thought about my bug karma and how I hadn't exactly been doing very good the last couple days. I imagined myself being attacked by a large preying mantis on the way to work the next day and decided against the locust thrashing.

Instead, I simply started thwacking the bug down the hallway to the door. He tried to fly a couple times, but I knocked him down to the floor each time and kept on swatting him several feet with each swing. Finally, I opened the door to the back stairs and hit him one more time into the open air. He hit the step and bounced once, then took off into the night.

As I was laying down to sleep for the second time, I actually felt a lot better that I hadn't killed it. While I'm not sure what good locusts are for the environment, there was really no need to kill it and I didn't want to continue my murderous ways. I went to sleep and woke up and got ready for work without incident. While I was making my way out to my car, though, I walked right through a thin spiderweb that had been built overnight across the main part of the back stairway. As usual, I had to stop for a moment with closed eyes and wipe the small fibers out of my face before continuing. There wasn't much I could do but smile, though, I guess it was revenge for the spider on my bed.