I think I have a severe case of PIES. And not the Homer Simpson variety. I’m sure you’ve had it, too, at one point or another in your life, and most definitely will again.
What is PIES, you ask? Well, it’s what happens when you do something like move into a new house in the woods. It happens when you go camping for the very first time, or picnic at a new park, or go swimming at a lake. You freak out about the innumerable and virtually inextinguishable varieties of insects with whom you’d prefer not to share your personal space.
PIES? Post Insect Exposure Syndrome. You know what I’m talking about.
It’s what happens when you overhear the previous owners of your house chatting with their lawyer during your closing about the fact that their entire family came down with Lyme Disease from the ticks in their yard. It’s what happens when you take off outlet covers to paint and find hundreds of dead bees (or hornets – you couldn’t tell which, since they were too dead) inside the walls. It’s what happens when you keep finding as-yet-unclassified beetle-type bugs belly up on the rugs, and watching hornets (live, I assure you) slip into spaces in your siding. You begin to lose your mind.
PIES can drive the most even-tempered individuals to put the pest control company on speed dial. It can also very rapidly transform one into an amateur Entomologist, who can tell you the eight species of flies that are petrified in her garage window, and which bugs will crawl back up the drain when washed down. PIES can also facilitate games played at night, in one’s bed, such as What’s Crawling on Me Now? and the more popular What May Be Crawling on My Children?
And it doesn’t stop with you. After you take your children outside, you virtually turn them upside down and shake, inspect their hair, and perform full-body reiki to check for ticks. You even unfasten their diapers and check inside just in case.
You know that’s half of an olive on kitchen floor, left there when you cleaned up after dinner, but you can’t help but convince yourself that it’s moving. Is it a spider? Sometimes, yes, but more usually just some dust. You can’t resist the urge to flail around in an epileptic fit, sprinting off your chair like you just remembered you entered the 50-yard dash, slapping yourself in the face and legs while attempting to enjoy the scenery, or a meal, as nature buzzes around you. You cut open a tomato and question whether the black thing inside is a seed or a blood sucking parasite. Your eyes dart warily around all rooms at all times. You squint and squat and spray and poke. You’re plumb out of your mind, and, frankly, you can’t hide it. And your three lazy, good-for-nothing cats just aren’t fazed by the fact that this is your hour of need.
Now, I’m not going to put on my City Girl t-shirt, as it’s fairly obvious that I’m not of the woods. And I’m not going to act like I’m adjusting to the fact that I’m not living in an impenetrable fortress, because, let me tell you, I’m not.
Some of us love the outdoors. Some of us hope for a butterfly to land on our finger, become giddy and nostalgic around fireflies, or stop to make a wish when a ladybug happens by. Me? I’m screaming, cursing, and swatting, and that’s if I haven’t run away yet. My humble opinion? Bugs are ugly, bugs are gross, a lot of them crunch, and none of them should be in my house. Period. Who do they think they are, with their exoskeletons and secretions and scent glands, anyway? There’s a place for bugs, and it’s on some faraway planet in another galaxy.
And don’t give me that, “We need bugs,” business, either. We don’t, and La La La I Can’t Hear You.
One of the most enduring memories I have of my grandfather, who passed in 2008, is of us sprinkling ant killer over all the anthills up and down his driveway. And of the brightly colored fly swatters hung in various places in the house. And the fact that sometimes, sometimes he let me do the swatting. He hated bugs, and I’d like to think he passed that adaptive, heroic, and utilitarian quality on to me.
I can think of nothing more I’d like to do to preserve his memory than continue his legacy of obliterating every insect that crosses my path.
And now back to the PIES. The only known cure? Chemicals and a lot of booze. Ironically, the answer to many of life’s problems.
Now let me get out of here. My skin is crawling.