Monday, August 24, 2015

Toe Pinchers and Other Exotic Pets

Grace, fearless before the sea and its sea creatures.
My five-year-old daughter Grace is terrified of bugs. I mean, the horror goes so deep that if she even sees an ant from 10 feet away or a fruit fly in the same domicile, she screams bloody murder.

Because of this total and absolute terror, she has developed an uncanny ability to spot the smallest of insects in the largest of rooms. Grace's eyes scan the horizon upon entry into any new environment. Like sophisticated radar technology known only to one small blond child and the United States Navy, Grace's eyes dart around the perimeter scanning for any discernible creature with multiple legs, wings or hard-shelled body armor. One teeny tiny gnat tucked in the upper quadrants of a cathedral ceiling, and Grace is quick to sound the alarm:


And then she screams and shoots like a bullet out of the room.

My husband and I have marveled at her ability. She's really got a sharp eye, that one. We both wonder if there will be any employable skill that could evolve from this. Jeweler? Microscopic scientist? Atom-splitter?

Recently, we took our little Bug Hunter to South Carolina for a family vacation. We were mainly looking for a place with warm swimming pools and warm ocean waters. Being from Michigan, we were tired of visiting lakes that left our children with blue lips and shivering bodies. We wanted warmth! We wanted sun! We wanted both sandy beaches and chlorine! We wanted it all!

Sure, in the back of my mind, I wondered if South Carolina had bugs like Florida. But we were going to a fancy Golf Resort. This wasn't our usual rustic vacation so I had high hopes. When we unlocked the door to our cottage on stilts, it was immaculate and new. All surfaces were shiny. And so it was that we continued our bug-free existence for many days.

I thought South Carolina was in every way superior to Florida. You had palm trees, warm ocean waters, sandy beaches and … no bugs! Why had I ever even bothered with Florida when South Carolina existed? I couldn't believe my ignorance.

Late one night, around 3:45 a.m., I heard a piercing scream that shook the walls of our cottage and all the palm trees that surrounded it. I stumbled from my room to my daughter's, where I found her pointing at the wall, yelling:


"Grace, you can't keep screaming your head off every time you see a bug," I mumbled and picked her up. "Now where is this bug you're so afraid of…"

"There!" she pointed at the wall and tried to launch herself further away from the wall in question.

I turned to observe what I thought had to be some sort of electrical device or appliance affixed to the wall that I had not previously noticed. It was close to the television set that was attached to the wall, so my weary head surmised that it must be related to the big-screen TV. Perhaps a cable box or the WIFI router?

I scrunched my eyes up and tried to focus in the dark.

It suddenly dawned on me that this was no electrical device.

This was a Volkswagen bus parked on the hotel wall.

I hoofed it out of there, my daughter and I clinging to each other in mutual terror, through the living room and back into my own bed, where I deposited my daughter next to my husband.

"WE HAVE A SITUATION," I announced, loudly, launching him out of the bed.

"What situation? A bug?" He twisted his boxers around his waist and prepared to do battle.

"That, Sir, is no bug."

He sighed as if I was being ridiculous and disappeared into the dark. I waited to hear the THUMP as he crushed the enormous jungle beast into the wall.

Instead, he slid back into bed.

"Listen to me carefully," he began.

My eyes widened in the dark.

"I did not K.I.L.L. I.T." He spelled the words so the small child shivering next to me would not understand.

"Why???" I gasped.

"It's too F.U.C.K.I.N.G. E.N.O.R.M.O.U.S."

"You have to K.I.L.L. I.T.!" I said.

"With what?"

"Your S.H.O.E.?"

"You have got to be kidding me."

"A broom?"

"I'd need an M-80 to K.I.L.L. that thing."

I snickered.

He snickered.

"I saw a fly swatter in the laundry room," he offered.

I snorted.

"Maybe you could C.A.T.C.H. I.T.?"

"With what?!?"

"A C.U.P.?"

"Are you H.I.G.H.?"

"She could keep it as a P.E.T."

"You are S.I.C.K."

"Seriously. What do we tell her?" I said.

"We tell her I K.I.L.L.E.D. it."


"We L.I.E. to her."


Later, as I tried to sleep and not think about the gigantic beast that was living in the room next to me, I noticed the bedroom was lit up by my husband's phone.

"What are you looking at?"

He flashed the screen at me, which was full of enormous black beetle-looking insects.

"It's either a T.O.E. P.I.N.C.H.E.R. or a C.O.C.K.R.O.A.C.H."

"Stop talking to me." I closed my eyes and tried to not think about my bare toes under the thin blanket.

"We'll tell her it's a B.E.E.T.L.E." he said.

"We're certainly not telling her it's called a T.O.E. P.I.N.C.H.E.R. Jesus!"

"Are you talking about the beetle?" a little voice chimed in from the dark.

"No, Baby. We're talking about something else." I said.

"Did Daddy kill it?"

"Yes. Yes he did."

She shivered her little body against mine. And mine shivered back.

The next day, as the full light of morning flooded our room, my husband nudged my elbow. I looked up at him and he pointed at the door wall, along the curtain. An enormous bug sat there and in that moment, deep within me, I felt something die.

My husband lifted his flip flop from the floor and pointed at the bug. I looked down at the sweet little girl nestled against me, sleeping peacefully. I looked back up at my husband nodded. I nodded back.

With a great THWAP! the deed was done and my husband spirited the carcass off, I know not where.

"What was that?" my little angel had opened her eyes.

"It was nothing."

"Did Daddy kill the beetle?"

"Yes. Yes he did."


  1. I have full body goosebumps right now. And I live in the country.

    1. The southeastern coast is not for wussies. That's all imma say.

  2. I, too, enjoyed the spelling you-know-what.

    Nice to see you bloggin', Mandy.

    1. Thank you. Now to come up with something else to write about!

  3. I literally laughed out loud! I will tell you that Miss G told me about the bug, showed me with her hands that it was about the size of her shoe. She then said she brought it home as a pet and named it Elsa!

  4. My husband is from SC, and we currently live in the middle of the state. He INSISTS those giant cockroaches are not "cockroaches," but "Palmetto Bugs"....

    I'm like, "Southerners are always trying to prettify everything with your Southern euphemisms, but that doesn't make that thing any less of a G-D COCKROACH!!"