Archive for October, 2020

Bugging out

Hello hello! Another weekend is upon us, and I hope all 8-10 of you have a pleasant one. Something happened Thursday evening that I knew in the moment would turn into a blog post, so without any ado (let alone further ado), here you go:

The four of us were all downstairs, and out of nowhere, my son started screaming his head off. Loud, high-pitched, blood-curdling screams. It was the second time that had happened that day. Earlier, screams similar to those (but maybe only 80% as crazed) emanated from the downstairs bathroom. I hurried over to see a very panicked boy pointing to the floor and telling me there was…a spider! Now, dear readers, please do me a favor and make the smallest hole you can with both thumbs and both index fingers together. That’s probably still bigger than the spider that made him freak the fuck out. I gently and safely got it in a Kleenex and set it free in our backyard.

There are two things at play here, folks. First, my son has developed a sizeable fear of bugs. When he was younger, he’d show me pictures in science books of insects and insist they were all cute, even when they made my skin crawl. But then he got really afraid of bees despite never being stung by one, and sometimes even flies really seem to bother him. Hope he grows out of that.

The second thing is my daughter’s incredibly strong belief that all life is sacred. All life. Like she used to get upset when our lawn was mowed. She’s been a vegetarian for years now for moral reasons, and we support that, but it sometimes gets out of hand. Over the summer, there was a wasp in the house. I took exception to that, smacked it with a flip flop, then carefully threw it’s creepy body away outside. My daughter – no joke – wouldn’t look at me the rest of the day and said she didn’t want to have dinner “sitting next to a murderer.” I tried explaining that (as she knows and appreciates), I save spiders, shoo flies outside, and catch-and-release bugs that get into our house. This was different because they sting and don’t buzz like a bee so we don’t even know where they are. Our future lawyer made her case: “So if there were giants and they knew that humans could kick them, you think they should just kill all the humans who get near them even if they didn’t try kicking them at all?” I may have made the wrong call by siding with the giants. Hope she grows out of that.

So back to Thursday evening. My boy is by our front door, screaming his entire head off. He runs away from the area, and as the tears start to come, he says that he was standing right next to a scorpion. “Maybe it was just a cricket,” my lovely wife said, since those make their way indoors at times. I went to the kitchen to find a plastic container I could catch the insect in before making the transfer to the yard. Admittedly, I wasn’t moving my fastest because this happens from time to time, including that morning with the wee little spider.

I walked over, and modeling that it was no big deal, bent down, put the container over the insect, and then stood back up. As luck would have it, it was actually a fucking scorpion. A scorpion! In our house! Still playing it cool, I said, “Hey hon…uh…yeah, it’s a scorpion.” “What? Really?” She walked over, and running around in the upside-down container was a small but irrefutable scorpion. Creepy as fuck. My son further lost his shit and started rehashing how close he’d been to it. “Don’t kill it!” yelled my daughter. To her credit, she then suggested that we shouldn’t put it in our backyard. We all agreed, for the sake of our dog’s health and our own sanity.

While the kids were distracted by the tv, my lovely wife and I first slid a piece of mail under the container, then some cardboard from a box under that, then put all of that inside a bag, and sealed the bag extra well. Carrying it by a corner, I went out front and put it all right in our black trashcan that was going to be emptied into a garbage truck the next morning. We can always get another plastic container – it was an acceptable loss. We came back inside, and when our daughter asked where we put it, we truthfully said it was out front by the curb. We may have omitted the other details.

We’re not in scorpion country here, so it must’ve somehow come with something that had been delivered or…I don’t fucking know. All I know is that my son eventually calmed down, my daughter didn’t call me a murderer, and I won’t be walking barefoot near the front door without intensely studying the ground for some time.

The stars aligning

Hey look at us – we totally made it to October. Go us! Just a quick story for you all today that I hope you enjoy. I don’t think I’ll be able to tell it without kinda spoiling the punchline, but that’s ok.

Nearly five years ago, my company was having a holiday party. Back when gathering crowds was still a thing, we tended to do parties on Fridays. This meant people would spend part of the work day talking about said party, what they were going to wear, what freeways they’d take to get there, etc.

On this particular Friday, the party was a little farther away so people were leaving early to go home and get ready first. I was in the kitchen, and a co-worker said he was taking off for that reason. I was about to say something normal like, “Ok, see you there” when I realized something and paused. A lot happened in that pause. The stars had just aligned perfectly and in a way I may never witness again.

You see, this gentleman’s last name was Richter, and there’s a line from “Total Recall” that my favorite brother and I quote in which Arnold says, “See you at the party, Richter!” Naturally, the line is accompanied by Arnold throwing Mr. Richter’s no-longer-attached arms at him. And here I was, actually going to see someone named Richter at “the party,” and I couldn’t believe my luck. But in the pause, I also realized that not everyone shares that reference, so if I just blurted that line out in an Austrian accent, the odds are it would be met with a metric shit ton of confusion. But at the same time, I owed it to the universe to use this opportunity. What, I told you a lot happened in the pause.

So I ended up saying something like, “This might not mean anything to you, but I’ll explain right after,” and then I said the Arnold line in my best Arnold impression. He didn’t get the reference but appreciated it once I’d explained. Or acted like he appreciated it. Either way is fine with me. It wasn’t the most obscure reference in the world, but still pretty rare to have the quote line up with my reality so perfectly. It would be like teaching a class on pool safety to someone named Rose and getting the chance to say, “I need you to swim for me, Rose.” Or making an 80s playlist and getting to say, “And Toto too.” Or opening a fridge and using Gabriel Byrnes line in “The Usual Suspects” to yell, “There’s no…fucking…coke!” Nah, those are too easy and have totally happened before – this required the name, a type of event, and for the event to be in the near future. I’m proud of my brain for realizing it in the moment, even if I didn’t handle it that gracefully.

That’s it, told you it was a brief story today. Have a great weekend, and stay healthy and safe. (And I’d love other versions of being able to put movie quotes into real-life scenarios if you’ve got ’em, so comment away!)