Big Bugs and Empty Pants

The following is a written account of my roller coaster of a relationship with a bug.  Yes, my life is very interesting.  Oh, and there are photos and video of Eila, so there’s a reason to wade through my ramblings.  Or I guess you could just skip to the photos and videos if that’s what interests you.  In any case, here we go…

It’s about 2:30pm now on a Friday, and the big girls just got home from school.  Looking around our house, you wouldn’t know that something crazy happened here this morning.  All appears normal, everything where it should be.  A pile of unfolded laundry sits in the middle of the living room floor, while a pair of dirty underpants dangles from the banister.  Two baby bottles, one from this morning and one from some time last week (I don’t know which is which) sit on the side table next to me.  My empty coffee cup keeps them company.  My bag of knitting stuff, which I don’t think I’ve touched in weeks, is on the floor near the front door.  Yes, all is as it should be.

So you’d never suspect that this morning, we were INVADED!!  By a bug.  I think it was a stink bug.  And I’ll admit right here that it wasn’t THAT big.  But it was kind of big.  Big enough for me, in my lonely, attention-deprived, stay-at-home-mother-of-an-infant state to make a fuss over.  But see, this is hindsight describing my socioemotional make-up as it pertains to, and influenced, the events in question.  At the time, it was an intense experience.  My feelings are real, I tell you!

Anyway, here’s what happened:  I was just sitting here, feeding Eila and working on the computer (browsing the internet… I call it “working”), when I saw something giant moving out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look, and oh my geez oh pete!  It was a bug the size of a small gorilla.  (Very small gorilla.) I think this kind of creature is called, at least among 8-year-old entomologists, a “stink bug.”  (Ha ha, I just told a joke inside my head about this question – What is this kind of bug called? – being the cross-section of entomology and etymology… but… that’s not funny, now that I’m typing it, so never mind.)

Kate sizes up the bug.

Back to the bug.  So I gave him (or her) a look-over.  Then I gave it the stink eye.  (Pun shamelessly intended.)  But really, I scowled at him for awhile, shaking my fist at times.  I just felt uneasy with him there.  You know those people who you can look right in the face, and even have a conversation with, yet you can’t get a reading from them?  That’s how this bug was!  I stared him in the eyes (I think), and I had a good talking with him.   But I just couldn’t get a feel for what he was all about.  What do you want, little friend?  If you even are my friend!  What do you want with us?!?!

You know that poem in Dr Seuss’ book “The Sneetches”, at the end, titled “What Was I Scared Of?”  The one about the pale green pants with nobody inside them?  It starts off like this:

“I was walking in the night

And I saw nothing scary.

For I have never been afraid

Of anything.  Not very.

Then I was deep within the woods,

When suddenly I spied them!

I saw a pair of pale green pants

With nobody inside them!

I wasn’t scared, but yet I stopped

What could those pants be there for?

What could a pair of pants at night

Be standing in the air for?!”

Sidenote:  Back in the year of 2000 BC or so, I actually memorized all the words to this poem and the others in The Sneetches.  I was living that summer in a little apartment in Greece, with a dear old friend of mine named Megan and a curly headed stranger from Boston, cleaning yachts for rich European tourists 12 hours a day, and then, apparently, reading and re-reading Dr. Seuss books to myself at night.  See, there’s so much to learn out there in the world.  Like the words to stories about pale green pants with nobody inside them.

My Point: I really think that part at the end (which is not the end of the pale green pants story, but is the end of the part I quoted) really gets to the heart of how I felt about this stink bug.  I wasn’t scared, exactly, but I just didn’t know HOW to feel about him.  Who the heck are you, and what are you doing here in my house?  Moving around all mysterious like.  What’s your plan, man?

Kate feels strong mistrust toward bug visitor.

Then things got really crazy.  Because at the very moment I was watching him – videotaping him, actually – he decided to take off flying!  All around the room, like a maniac.  Now, if I had been feeling suspicious of his motives before this behavior commenced, imagine how I must have felt now.  Actually, I can show you how I felt, because like I said, I was videotaping at the time.  But don’t show anyone else this video, because it’s not good.  Here you go:

Okay, I’m not proud of that.  Especially the part you can’t hear, which is Eila’s reaction to my scream.  (I had the presence of mind to turn of the camera at least.)  Poor thing burst into sobbing tears, probably thinking the sky was falling, because why would her normally-calm and stable mother make that kind of a noise unless something was terribly wrong?  Only a lunatic would scream like that, barring disaster.  See, Eila is still very young and is still learning that her mother is, in fact, somewhat of a lunatic.  My hope is that she learns that fact in small doses of maternal crazy, gradually, over time.  Then, even if she knows it, it will always seem somewhat normal and familiar to her.  Bwa ha ha!!!!  (Is that how you type evil laughter?)

Okay, I need to wrap this up, because this incident really doesn’t warrant a pages-long post.  But here, first I’ll show you more videos.  (Be patient with me.  I just learned the video thing, as you know, so you can expect to see excessive use of this media for the next few posts.)  In these next two videos, the bug had finished flying around the room and had landed over near the basket Eila was hanging out in.  I decided I had to investigate.  Notice the look of fear in Eila’s eyes.


And there’s this one:

So at this point, I have to admit, I’m starting to doubt my initial belief that the bug was out to get us.  Or that he wanted to eat Eila.  MAYBE his intentions were good.

Can you see him there on the basket next to the basket that Eila’s in?  Yes, you can, look closer!  See?  He’s that giant thing, staring at Eila with a hungry look on his face.  Or… is that a lonely look?  What if he’s a lonely bug, just looking for a friend?  (I’m not being dramatic here… or at least not for the sake of this blog.  These are actually the thoughts that went through my head at this time.)

That’s funny, now that I’m posting these photos here, it almost looks like Eila is NOT totally terrified.  Is that possible?  I could have sworn that at that time she was shivering in fear.  Hmm…

Oh, real quick, let’s go back to the pale green pants.  So as the story goes, the narrator goes about his life, doing things like fetching Grinitch-spinach, fishing for Doubt Trout on Roover River, and picking snide, in a Snide field that was almost nine miles wide.  Anyway, as he’s going about his business, he keeps bumping into the pale green pants with nobody inside them, and he keeps getting more and more nervous, until he can’t even deny that he’s scared anymore.  And then, at the end, he… oh, I’ll just post it.   It goes like this:

I had to do an errand,

Had to pick a peck of Snide

In a dark and gloomy Snide-field

That was almost nine miles wide.

I said, “I do not fear those pants

With nobody inside them.”

I said, and said, and said those words.

I said them. But I lied them.

Then I reached inside a Snide bush

And the next thing that I knew,

I felt my hand touch someone!

And I’ll bet that you know who.

And there I was! Caught in the Snide!

And in that dreadful place

Those spooky, empty pants and I

were standing face to face!

I yelled for help. I screamed. I shrieked.

I howled. I yowled. I cried,



But then a strange thing happened.

Why, those pants began to cry!

Those pants began to tremble.

They were just as scared as I!

I never heard such whimpering

And I began to see

That I was just as strange to them

As they were strange to me!


I put my arm around their waist

And sat right down beside them.

I calmed them down.

Poor empty pants

With nobody inside them.

And now, we meet quite often,

Those empty pants and I,

And we never shake or tremble,

We both smile and we say…”Hi!”

(I’ve included much but not all of What Was I Scared Of? here, so if you want to read the whole thing, you should really read “The Sneetches and Other Stories” by Dr. Seuss… )

So back to the bug.  My path to peace with the stink bug was not quite as straight as that of the narrator in the pale green pants story.  I kept going back and forth from thinking I should swat him to protect my precious baby (which is a strong statement about my irrational state at the time, because a. I don’t kill bugs unless they are deadly, and b. I know that stink bugs are harmless) and then wanting to make him a sandwich and invite him to join Eila and myself in a game of “What Does A Thing Say?”  In the end, I did make peace with the bug.  Not so much peace that I wasn’t a bit suspicious when I saw him on the ceiling a day later.  But enough peace so that when Shaelyn, this morning, said, “Mom, I had to let your friend go outside,” I was a little bit sad.

Here is one last picture of Eila with our dear friend, Stinky:

I guess both the fact that this whole thing happened and the fact that I am posting about it are actually pretty meaningful.  The meaning being that I have way too much time on my hands (strange, because I can’t seem to find time to clean my house) and that my life is about as interesting as a common house fly (or in this case, stink bug) and that I am lacking social interaction to the point that I am building relationships with arthropods.  Basically, that I need to get a life.

But I hope you’ve enjoyed my story, that you’re healthy and happy, and that you find friends in the pale green pants in your life.


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