I walked into the house, dropped my bag, kicked off my shoes and took measure of the quite.
My daughter was at soccer practice and my wife likely stayed to walk the track while our daughter took corner kicks, ran suicides and scrimmaged. Standing at the kitchen table, I rubbed my eyes wanting a nap more that I wanted dinner, but I had 45 minutes to eat, prep for class and head back out.
Then I saw the note on the kitchen table.
Torn from a small spiral bound notebook and scrawled in blue Sharpie, the paper sat square on my placemat. Now, in addition to prepping for a discussion on The Odyssey and making an eggplant parmigiana sandwich, I was called to battle. My daughter charged me with the annihilation of a “nasty big ass bug” currently residing in my daughter’s bedroom.
Taking a deep breath I ascended the stairs to find the door to my daughter’s room closed. “Exactly how big is this big ass bug,” I wondered aloud to myself. I touched the doorknob, recalling in a momentary flash, Franz Kafka’s protagonist Gregor Samsa who metamorphosed into a “nasty big ass” cockroach. Behind Gregor’s closed bedroom door, his family could hear the crick-crak of his oversized legs rubbing against each other in response their every admonition and inquiry. I stood quiet wondering what sound, if any awaited on the other side.
Having seen one too many episodes of The X-Files, I pressed my ear to the door and listened just to be on the safe side.
“Don’t be stupid,” I said aloud and entered with my weapon of choice — Kleenex tissues — fully prepared to commit insecticide. I surveyed the ceiling — no bug. I scanned the curtains and windows — no bug. Behind the window bench, beneath the shoe rack, atop the desk — no bug, anywhere. Either the big ass bug was actually a small assed bug, or it had simply disappeared fleeing the scene so as to avoid an early demise.
This would undoubtedly become a problem. When my daughter arrives home she’ll want clear and distinct evidence that the bug is dead. Like some mafioso, she’ll demand it’s hands, or a finger or something to know the hit went down and I did’t turn completely Buddhist and simply shoo the creature away to save my karma thus allowing it to return and lay eggs in her ears whilst she lay sleeping deep into the night.
As predicted, upon bursting through the door the first words from her mouth were not Hello, how are you Dad, but, “Did you kill it.”
“No,” I told her as I sat wolfing down the aforementioned eggplant sandwich.
“Why not,” she asked with clear concern in her voice.
“Because,” I informed and after a dramatic pause added, “It disappeared.”
Shaking her head, my daughter’s shoulder sank. “This will not do,” she said. “Not at all,” and she slouched through the kitchen, exasperated. “Great. Now, I’ll be up all night wondering where he is and what he is doing and…”
“Honey, he’s a harmless bug.”
“Easy for you to say; you didn’t see it,” whereupon she described a hideous creature I can only surmise was a stinkbug.
I made a face and she asked, “What?”
“Sounds like a stink bug,” I held my nose and grimaced.
My daughter threw her hands up, “Great! Now I’ll probably roll over in the middle of the night and end up crushing it or something.”
I suggested she sleep with the windows open that way she’ll be covered on two fronts — the bug would have an escape route and if she did crush it and thereby release the stink there’d at least be some ventilation.
She found the suggestion neither supportive nor helpful. In her eyes I failed in my paternal obligation as the remover of all things gross, smelly, creepy and crawly from her material reality. I also failed to fulfill my responsibility to offer reassurances that she had nothing to fear from the bug of stink.
This does not worry me though.
With certainty another opportunity will present itself crawling around on either six, eight or some uncountable number of legs. Once spotted, I’ll rush in, Kleenex prepared to crush the creeping embodiment of evil just like Beowulf vanquishing the spawn of Cain. Then after flushing the creature’s smashed remains into the watery oblivion of our septic tank, I will be met with a relieved and understated, “Thank you Dad.”
So until then, I patiently await my call to battle against whatever evil awaits — stink bug or otherwise.