-- Edward O. Wilson
My wife is no friend of the insect world.
It wasn't too far into our marriage before I realized that she became easily upset at the appearance of bugs.
I thought it was funny.
When summoned to a room by the sort of shriek usually associated with chain-saw massacres, I would find her pale and pointing at some small roach or baby wasp trying its best to flee the larger biped.
I would gracefully scoop it up, and then, like a proud 5-year-old, approach my bride to show her what I'd caught.
This was not what she wanted.
"Keep that away from me!" she said through clinched teeth. "I'm warning you! Don't (pause, count to three) even (another pause) think of it!"
Sometimes, just to tease her, I would pretend I had captured something and playfully put it in her hair.
I did this ... maybe twice, before she convinced me that it was not in my long-term health interests.
I do not know why she is this way.
While no great fan of bugs, I follow more of a live-and-let-live philosophy that rarely promotes violence, much less sudden movement. I have found that if I leave a wasp alone, it will return the favor.
She, on the other hand, is not taking chances. She knows all the pest-control guys by first name and sends them Christmas gifts. If one is going to be late for our scheduled home spraying, she begins to grow anxious.
And it's contagious.
She has now trained our dog to be frightened of bugs. My little white terrier sprints from the room when he becomes aware there is a fly soaring about.
He will also treat a moth like a vampire bat and scamper to a corner or cower under cover to avoid the chance it might light upon him.
I find all this bug-phobia much too serious but hold my tongue. I say nothing, not even the several times a month when the grocery list I'm handed includes a request for more bug spray, cans of which are scattered about the house in strategic locations.
Often, when I come home after a long day of weary word-smithing, the lady of the house will point to the final resting place of some slow-moving roach or low-soaring wasp that has been dispatched by half a can of Raid. At least that is the name on the can that has been set on its now paralyzed carapace like some sort of cylindrical tombstone.
She will not touch what is beneath it, even though it is way past dead. Even to dispose of it.
That is a job left to me. I'll get a paper towel, pick it up and dispose of it quickly.
And it's not a problem. It's job security.
Death, where is thy stinger?