I am pathetically scared of large insects. Like, embarrassingly scared of them. And if there’s one thing my American friends like to continuously remind me of, is that Australia is the land of large insects.
The things I do for love.
Because, as a large insect-o-phobe, there are few things more jarring and/or butt hole puckering than waking up to pee and seeing this in your hall way:
Or opening your bathroom door and seeing this against the window pane:
Or, standing on your balcony and seeing this crawling on the rain gutter above you:
So, I have a most definite case of large insect fear. And it’s not like this fear is justified. Huntsmen spiders are non-aggressive and are harmless to humans. Same with grasshoppers. And cock roaches, even thought they’re gross, won’t hurt you. But they’re all SO. DAMN. BIG. And their large size gives them an other worldliness that I just can’t handle. Can’t handle, like, I get the shakes and the nervous sweats and heart palpitations and I lose the ability to speak when I see them. I basically feel as unglued as I look, even though I’m about 100x taller and 600 lbs heavier than them, with every tool at my disposal to murder them. I see 1 and I can’t stop seeing 500 of them, crawling all over me (and I know that won’t kill me–a roach crawled over my foot once and I’m still alive). I’m just a whuss, with a completely irrational fear of large insects. And I’ve accepted that.
My whussiness and paralytic fear in the face of large insects is bearable though, because one of the agreements that Joel and I made before I moved here was that he would be in charge of dispatching giant insects. And he’s been my night in Mortein armour. Except for those two times.
Those two times where my nightmare of “What happens when Joel’s not here and they come?” They being scary, knife wielding giant insects.
The first instance came on a particularly sweaty Sunday when I was coming home from the grocery store. I had my hands full, and I was out of breath from walking up the hill and up the stairs with heavy groceries. I walked up to my apartment door and there it was: the dreaded giant grasshopper, and there was no way I could step around him or over him. It stared at me. I stared at it. I took a step toward it, and it took a step toward me. I froze.
Seriously, my immediate instinct was to call Joel, who was at work, followed by thoughts of “I guess I could wait outside for 5 more hours until Joel gets back.” I turned to retreat down the stairs when I realized quickly that was crazy (because my ice cream would melt, not because of how obviously crazy is the notion of hiding from a grass hopper), and I tried to contain my panic. I thought I could shoo it away with my bags, but I couldn’t get myself close enough. As I stood there, frantically trying to strategize, the bug remained unphased. It knew as well as I did, that it would come down to him or me. I decided to use what I had at my disposal: my flip flops.
I put my bags down, brushed away the fears of WHAT IF IT JUMPS INTO MY BAG OMG, and took off one flip flop. My goal was to hit the shoe near the bug, just enough to scare it into jumping toward the neighbor’s door. While it was disoriented, I would grab my bags and run inside and never leave the apartment again. I aimed carefully at the grasshopper, and let my shoe fly.
It hit the door above the grasshopper, and landed a few inches away from it.
But the grasshopper didn’t move.
Are you kidding me?
I took off my other shoe, aimed more carefully, and let it fly. Same trajectory. Same result. This time, the bug moved. He crawled up the door.
Are you fucking kidding me!?
At this point, I didn’t know what to do. I could go downstairs and grab the broom from the walk way, but the broom was outside in Spiderville. And I didn’t have any shoes because they were dangerously close to the grasshopper. I thought of grabbing my shoe and just swatting it off the door, but I also thought of that moment I bend down to grab the shoe and the grasshopper leaping off and flying into my hair. So I couldn’t do it. Also, I feared the longer I stood barefoot on the gross carpet outside in the gross hallway, the greater my chances of catching Hep C or something else terrible. Also, it was just getting hotter by the minute in our non-air conditioned building. Which meant I was roasting.
I was contemplating what groceries I could toss at my door to scare the grasshopper when I heard the blessed sounds of the front door opening downstairs. I held my breath as I heard whoever it was come up the first flight, and then the second flight, and my heart almost stopped when I saw one of our construction worker neighbors coming up toward me.
Now, I have very little dignity to begin with. And whatever was left was quickly cashed out when my neighbor saw me: red faced, sweat stained, shoeless American digging through her groceries and looking panicked at the sight of a grasshopper. He gave me a strange look and walked by me, but before he could escape, I meeked out “Excuse me but do you have a broom or a towel or something I could use there’s a giant grasshopper on my door and I’m terrified of it and I can’t get inside my apartment.”
I might as well have been 7 years old and wetting my pants while I explained this to him, because that was the extreme look of pity he gave me. He laughed a little and walked over to my door, saying “Oh yeah, I can get him for you.” I thanked him profusely as he took off his flip flop and chased the grass hopper down off the door, attempting to tell me they scared him too. He chased him off the stair ledge, and I finally felt safe. I introduced myself (which, in hindsight, I might have done first), and tried to explain that the grass hoppers aren’t that big in the States, and he laughed and tried to get away from me as quickly as possible. Understandably. I grabbed my groceries and my shoes and dashed inside. Vowing never to leave again.
The ordeal felt like it lasted 3 hours. It was probably only 15 minutes, but time stops when you’re alone and petrified. And while I’m beyond thankful our neighbor showed up, I hope I never have to see him again. Unless it’s while I’m doing something really heroic, like saving a bunch of orphaned kittens from drowning.
Tune in next time for Part 2, the Huntsman.