The morning started off normally. I got up, took a shower, and dressed for the day. I gathered my things and said my goodbyes as I had to be at a meeting at another parish an hour away. I stopped at the sink to rinse out my cup and saw a stink bug. Georgia is inundated with them right now and they keep getting in the house. I don’t like bugs at all, even ones like stink bugs that don’t bite or sting. This one looked at me and I looked at him. I was in a hurry and so I made a note to tell one of the kids to gently escort him out the door. And then I got in the car and left the house.
About a mile up the road I happened to notice that there was a stink bug in my car crawling across my windshield. It was in my direct line of vision. I slowly exhaled and reminded myself that stink bugs don’t bite or sting. Still, I was not happy to see him there. He slowly meandered across the windshield and then dropped down on the dash. In my van the dash is pretty high and it slopes so this is where I lost sight of him. “Great, he’s probably going to end up in the vent, die, and then stink!” I thought to myself. I continued driving.
Suddenly there he was. He popped up over the ridge and scampered down the front of the dashboard. He stood silently near the radio dials looking at me. His antenna twitched. He looked at me with his beady eyes. He raised up on his back legs to get a better view. Did you know that stink bugs can do that? Yeah, I didn’t either. It set a panic into me.
“Hey buddy!” I said nervously and in my calmest voice ever (although I am clearly the bigger one of us and I can kill him at any time). “Hey, we’re fixing to stop soon and I can help you out of the car. Don’t move. Just stay there. Seriously, you don’t need to move any. Why are you looking at me like that and why are you getting on your hind legs? Wait, just hold on! It’s going to be alright; I promise. Just wait… hold on… almost there…” This went on for a good minute until I got to the stop sign.
The whole time this little joker watched me. He never moved from that spot except to rear up on his back legs. I swore he was preparing to jump at any minute and while I drove and talked to him, I pushed my body as far into my seat as I could, especially my face. I’m sure I gave myself a good quadruple chin my face was tucked so far back.
I pulled up at the stop sign and tried to look for something on my car floor to scoop him up with. Oh, there was all kinds of junk littering the floor, but I was hard pressed to find something that wouldn’t squish him and cause the car to stink. With one eye on the bug and one eye scanning the floor, I finally found a newspaper. Reaching down with masterful grace as not to spook old stinky, I grabbed the paper and brought it up slowly to the dash.
Old Stink Bug was not wanting anything to do with being corralled by the paper. He reared up on his hind legs and dodged it as much as he could. But eventually I was able to get the paper under him and begin pushing him towards the open window. By the time I got him to the portal of freedom, he was in the middle of the paper and clinging on for dear life. He had made up his mind that he wasn’t going anywhere. I shook the paper and he just scurried higher on it. I shook harder.
That shaking was my undoing. As I shook the paper, I also hit it against the edge of the window. That joker launched off the paper and came hurtling right back into the car and smack dab in the middle of my shirt! I screamed and started to lean towards the window shaking my shirt screaming, “Oh no! NOT TODAY!” But I was wrong… it was today that the Satan was going to try to kill me with a stink bug.
I tried to lean further near the window. It was then that my seat belt became acutely aware of its job and decided to become the employee of the month. It snapped tightly in place as if to save my very life not realizing that it was actually contributing to my near-death experience. I pulled on it hard; it wouldn’t budge. I shook it; it clung to me as if it were a second skin. The stink bug tried to nestle itself into the folds of my shirt. I screamed again and shook my shirt trying to get close to the window but failing miserably.
I came to my senses and unbuckled the seat belt. Yanking the door handle, the door flew open and I leaped out of my van (and by leaped, I mean literally since it is huge and sits 12,000 feet off the ground and I often feel like I need a booster to just get in it!). My feet hit the pavement and I started shaking my shirt. I think I vaguely remember hopping in circles while screaming but it’s a little fuzzy as I’ve blocked some of that out by this point. Suddenly I realized that the bug was nowhere to be found. I hadn’t seen it fly off and I looked on the ground and couldn’t find it. A sick feeling came over me… it was back in the car. I just knew it fell somewhere in the door panel or on my seat. I checked everywhere but couldn’t find it.
Thankfully during my near death experience no other cars had pulled up behind me. Many had passed in front of me on the highway and I’m sure thought I was on drugs or something, but no one was waiting behind me for me to finish my foolishness. I hesitated and then got back into the car. I drove the next hour to my meeting on one butt cheek, my arm pulled so close to me that I could barely move, so that I could keep myself away from the door panel and the possibility that the stink bug would come out of the door and find itself once again perched on my chest with a terrific view of the road ahead… or worse yet, would want to look deep into my eyes again. Every twinge or tickle on my legs I was sure the bug was crawling on me. I wrapped my skirt as tightly around my legs as I could but worried I was instead trapping him inside the long fabric.
I made it to my meeting and quickly exited my van. I prayed that when I came back out the bug would gone or at least I would have forgotten about it. Four hours later when I got back into the van, I didn’t think about the bug until something brushed against my leg. Taking a deep breath, I told myself, “It’s just a stink bug. They don’t sting or bite. You will be ok.” And I was. I made it home with no more near-death experiences and no more ridiculous overreactions that ended with me dancing in the streets like I was hyped up on crack.
Did I mention that I hate bugs?
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