Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things that make a fear of bugs even worse: A List

No clever blog title for this post.

I want to take a minute to discuss bugs. I know you are all shocked.

I'm terrified of bugs. I always have been. This fear interferes with most aspects of my daily life and I might go so far as to I have a bonafide phobia. I'm sure my contemporaries would agree.

Because of this, I have conducted anecdotal, observational, and other research on all types of insects (and arachnids). Know your enemy, right?

You know those BuzzFeed lists we're all pretty annoyed of at this point that start with something like, "13 things all ___________ think of....", or "7 things to stop doing in your _____________" ?

I decided to make one of those annoying lists. My list is called:

"4 Things a Certain 27-year-old Who is Entomophobic is Tired of Hearing"

1. "Palmetto Bugs"

Ah, the term "palmetto bug." If I could send this euphemism back to the fiery pits of arthropod hell where it belongs, I would. A palmetto bug IS NOT A THING. It doesn't exist. The term "palmetto bug" is a frilly, inappropriate, completely made-up nickname for cockroaches.

It's pretty obvious where the term derives. It's no secret that these little hellbeasts are rampant in the state of South Carolina, and they mostly live in trees if not in a super-urban setting. In my opinion, this is the worst euphemism in existence. I detest it, and an English teacher detesting any type of figurative language is a pretty hard thing to do.

The pests to which most people are referring when they use this term are either: A) American cockroaches, or B) Smokybrown cockroaches.

Exhibit A:

This is the American cockroach. Mahogany in color. Winged. Deplorable.

NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit B:

This little monster is the Smokybrown cockroach. Slightly darker. Slightly bigger. Abhorrent.

Still NOT a "Palmetto Bug"

Exhibit C:

Just for good measure, this is a Water Bug. Not a cockroach at all, but sometimes also lumped in to the Palmetto Bug category.


I'm especially talking to you, girl-at-the-same-outdoor-bar-as-me-last-week, who tried to calm me down when an American cockroach came walking near my table by telling me, "Oh it's okay, it's just a Palmetto Bug!"

Because Palmetto Bugs do not exist.

2. "You can't kill a ladybug; they're good luck!"

On the contrary, my friend.

I can and I will. But I will do it with Raid, as ladybugs are simply BEETLES that emit a foul smell if smashed. And also because I don't like the feeling of the bug crunch under my shoe or other smashing vehicle.

"But they eat insects that harm crops!"

"But they don't damage anything in your home!"

"But they're cute and lucky!"

I don't care.

I'll add "I killed ladybugs" to the very long list of things for which I am probably already going to Hell.

3. "It's more afraid of you than you are of it."

Has this sentence ever assuaged ANY bugphobe's fears, ever?

Has saying this EVER caused someone who is mid-hyperventilation to magically cease and desist and decide that they're perfectly comfortable being around whatever bug-demon happens to be around them?

Has this ever prevented a 13-year-old from jumping, fully clothed, off the end of a moving speedboat in Lake Keowee to avoid a bumblebee?

Has this ever prevented a 23-year-old graduate student from calling her mom when she got home from the library late at night so she would have someone to verbally calm her down as she checked every corner of her apartment for roaches?

(Those last two might have been me).

And the answer is: No, obviously it hasn't

A phobia, by definition, involves a "persistent, irrational fear" that compels the afflicted party to avoid whatever causes it.

Trust me.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they look utterly ridiculous when flailing about in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly because a fruit fly flew out of the onions.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS that stopping class and offering extra credit to students for killing roaches or spiders that wander into your classroom is absurd.

Someone who is terrified of bugs KNOWS they are being ludicrous by circumnavigating their entire apartment complex to go in the door on the other side of the building because a spider was near the closer door.

Saying this to them accomplishes nothing.

And -- for the record, I don't agree with the statement that all bugs are more afraid of us than we are them. Here is just a sampling of bugs I'm convinced are NOT scared of us:

A. Wasps

 Is further explanation needed? Wasps will fuck you up. 

B. Silverfish

Granted, silverfish might be too stupid to get to the point where they are scared. Last week, a silverfish crawled directly into my toilet bowl and died because -- despite their suggestive names -- silverfish can't swim. It literally drowned itself.

Still, a silverfish will crawl right up into your business and muck up an otherwise perfectly bug-free evening. They love chilling in your bathroom sink, lurking in anything you may have stored in a low cabinet, or just popping up to say hey as you wash your hair in the shower.

Not scared of me.

C. Roaches 

Please don't tell me roaches are scared of me. They are not.

Anyone who has ever had a 2-inch roach erratically fly directly at your face on a summer's night knows this.

Roaches don't give a shit about your can of Raid, your rolled up magazine, or the bottom of your shoe. They will crawl wherever they damn well please.

Oh, you thought you killed that roach by spraying it with a little bug killer?

NOPE. Five minutes later, guess who's back and a little high off Raid fumes?

Oh, you thought stepping on and decapitating a roach would slow him down?

NAH. Just give him a couple minutes and he's crawling right back up your patio chair, sans head and curious as to what you've got on your plate there.

Last, but not least on this list is:

4. "Bugs just seem to flock to you!"

There is a big, huge difference between disgusting insects "flocking" toward me, and simply being hyperaware of and sensitive to their presence.

These are the types of people and things bugs "flock" to:

I am not a lantern, last time I checked.

I am not a pile of gross trash.

I bathe pretty regularly.

There are just as many bugs around you at any given time. I simply notice them way, way, way more than the average person.

Bugs will surely continue to impede on my life for any kind of foreseeable future. In the meantime, I suppose I will simply have to deal with the unpleasantries that accompany this phobia, aside from the bugs themselves.

Kudos to all the other entomophobes out there. Keep on keepin' on.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Balloon


hello there.

this is me, resuscitating this page from the blog graveyard, where it died roughly 11 months ago.

Why is this happening after all this time?

Enter Suz, my mother, to end almost a year of blog silence by introducing me to something known as "the balloon".

Let me paint you a little picture.

Once upon a time, my mother (henceforth referred to only as "Suz") bred poodles. Like, a lot of them. And not the cute kind.

Not this kind. The small, appropriate amount of poodle. 

No, my mom bred the redheaded step-children of the poodle world known as Standard Poodles. Standard Poodles are an embarrassing dog to have as a kid.  They are one of those dog breeds where you always find yourself justifying even owning one, much less 2-3 at a time like we did. You say things like, "Well, they're really smart dogs," or "They don't shed!", or "They have great dispositions." None of these things are false, but they don't negate the fact that you're walking a 60 pound Brillo pad down the sidewalk. 

Right now you are probably thinking, "THAT IS TOO MUCH POODLE," and you are right. HAVING Standard Poodles growing up was kind of embarrassing enough. It was kind of the same type of embarrassing as having your mom drive one of these around for most of your childhood....


That, my friends, is the Volkswagon Eurovan. I put up two pictures of Eurovans because we had not one, but two Eurovans growing up. The first was white and I assume Suz loved it because she was hauling around five gross kids at any given time. The second was green, and Suz must have just really loved Eurovans because at that point it was just us two youngest kids left. We really just had to accept Eurovans as our transportation reality at that point, so we affectionately referred to Eurovan #2 as the Green Bullet. Or at least I did.

So, Suz drove Eurovans and bred Poodles.

When the poodle-breeding was transpiring when I was younger, I was never present or cognizant of the "main event." I suppose I thought there was a poodle fairy who came around every couple of years and dropped 13 poodle babies at a time into a kiddie pool in our garage.

Apparently, kids, that's not how it goes down AT ALL.

A couple months ago, Suz decided it might be a fun adventure to try to breed her newest canine addition, Ruby. Ruby is a 15-pound goldendoodle-Cavalier King Charles spaniel hybrid known as a "Cavachon." Very cute dogs. Only slightly poodle-y.

Suz doesn't want to breed-for-profit, as she did in the past with the poodles. This endeavor was more in the category of Ruby-is-awesome-let's-maintain-that-gene-pool-for-a-while-by-way-of-making-puppies. If you're not trying to breed a dog for profit, you aren't necessarily going to advertise for the puppies. Thus, it's a good idea to have a list of people that have expressed interest in taking a puppy once the deed is done.

Given that I am #1 on that list for a Ruby-pup, I have developed a vested interest in this process.

This vested interest has caused me to do strange things.

Before today, I never thought I would be yelling "Are they doing it yet???" every five minutes from the kitchen table.

Before today, I never thought I would be hopping up from said kitchen table every 10 minutes to creepily stalk by the window in the hopes that I'd catch two dogs doing it in my mom's backyard.

Having developed this interest, and no longer being 12 years old like with the poodles of yore, Suz has obliged me with the ACTUAL process of making a dog baby.

I'm 27 years old. I know how babies are made. But y'all.


Apparently there is something called a "balloon"

And something called "flagging"

And something called "knotting"

This prompted an internet search on my part that led to some horrifying discoveries about dog coitus. (ps--a LOT of people have googled "actual steps of dog intercourse")


Things can get injured.


Things expand in places where it seems like they shouldn't and sound painful.


This whole "main event" show lasts for 25 MINUTES.

And other awkward, gross things about dogs that will now taint my opinion forever of precious little Ruby.


AS I was writing this, I got up from the computer to go and check on the status of the two dogs in Suz's backyard, because I got concerned after reading about all the juicy details of this biological event.........AND THEY WERE DOING IT.

I yelled for my mom, as I obviously could not handle this situation myself, she went flying into the backyard to help facilitate the process, and apparently it. is. happening. As we speak.

Suz called for me to bring her cell phone to the scene of the event just now, and apparently the stud-dog Luke was supposed to be brought back home from this little playdate at 3:45. It is currently 3:41, and trust me when I say that Luke is in no position to move from our back porch right now. He's a little "tied up."

I was tasked with the incredibly awkward job of calling Luke the Bichon's owner and explaining that we couldn't bring Luke back on time because his balloon was expanded.....

The call went something like this:

Luke's Owner: Oh hey Suzy!

Me: Hi, no, this is actually Shannon, Suzy's daughter. So, it turns out we can't really drop Luke off right now, because he is.....linked up.......locked together......attached.....ugh, I'm sorry, I really don't know the terminology but they are doing.....things.

Luke's Owner: Oh, okay! Well, do you know how long it will be?

Me: Umm.....They've been....doing it? for 10 minutes or so. I don't know. I don't know how long this process takes. My mom just said to tell you we can't move him. I'm ....I'm sorry.

About two minutes after that call, my sister Stephanie came trudging back into the kitchen from the backyard, distress written all over her face, announcing that the deed was done.

It's done? Mike and I asked her at once.

"Ugh, yes, it's done. Trust me, unfortunately I saw the balloon."

I'm not going to explain to you exactly what the balloon is, but suffice it to say Stephanie is adequately traumatized by having seen it.

As of press time, Ruby is potentially impregnated, and all of the humans involved are potentially scarred for life.

I've decided that puppies have to be as cute as they are to make up for the horrifying process of how they are created.

Circle of life, my ass. Puppy-making is gross.

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