Of course, she hates bugs when they are in the house as well. A single insect trapped between our four walls triggers roughly the same reaction in her as a Stuka preparing to dive-bomb the recliner would, a wail of fear and pain, and a desperate seeking of cover simultaneous with a demand that I squash the invader.
I am happy to do this when possible even though I have a much more phlegmatic attitude towards interior insects, having been raised in the bug-infested East and used to cohabiting with a certain amount of insect life. In particular, spiders. My mother regards spiders as individual pest control agents of the highest order.
“Don’t kill spiders,” she often commanded me in my youth. “They eat other bugs.”
“Not nearly enough of them,” I would reply, as I contemplated the usual throng of moths, stink bugs and ants swarming her living room on a typical summer night.
I try to tell the girl that spiders eat other bugs when one puts in appearance here. “I know that,” she says. Then, after a pause, she says “Does that mean you’re too big of a pussy to kill it?”
Nothing like attacking a guy’s masculinity to get him to do something he doesn’t particularly feel like doing, as the first woman who spotted the first gigantic cave spider crawling towards her favorite hunk of Raquel Welch-like crotch fur discovered, so the spider, despite its admirable appetite for insect flesh, dies.
Flying invaders need to be dispatched, too. I can get only so far with my natural insect-killing instruments, my bare hands, as many insects fly too high for me to reach them or too fast for me to clap them, mid-air, out of existence.
That’s why we acquired the hand-held Electric Bug Zapper. It resembled a tennis racket, but it was battery-powered, and supposed to kill bugs electronically when you swung it at them. I never had any faith in this instrument. I swung it many times at inside bugs, and I never saw the satisfying flash of insect electrocution when I did so. There was nothing like the blue flare that dazzles in the night when you are watching a real bug zapper, the land-based kind, do its work, a spark that briefly illuminates the porch and causes the observer to say, ”Ooooh, that was a big one. Fetch me another beer out of the cooler, wouldya?”
The best I was able to do with the hand-held zapper was knock a bug to the floor, then step on it to end its existence. Hardly high tech. When you licked the zapper, though, in an exasperated effort to determine whether there was any juice flowing through its grid at all, it hurt. So if you didn’t have any 9-volt batteries around, and you were in the mood for a little tongue pain, you could use it for that.
So when my girl took the zapper outside to deal with the swarms there, I did not complain. I often noticed her using it at her insect enemies, turning, twisting and whacking at the night, like Marina Sharapova trying to deal with a continuous series of wicked serves from both Williams sisters and Roger Federer combined.
But now its career is over. I noticed it sitting in the condition pictured above a few days ago. “Done with that?” I asked, as inoffensively as possible.
“I broke it on a bug,” she said instantly. I tried to suppress any look of disbelief, but one must have leaked down my optic nerve anyway. “It was a moth at least as big as an owl,” she added. “It came flying right at me.”
I glanced at the ground. “It just turned around and flew away after I hit it,” she added. “it’s still out there.”
I looked at the evidence and concluded that the zapper had met its end when she had accidentally smashed it against the umbrella pole, visible in the picture as well, while contorting herself like a martial arts defender, and I mean a martial arts defender with chronic epilepsy, facing off against her enemy.
“I better get you another one, then,” I said.
“Good idea,” she replied briskly, and went back to her book.
There was no sense arguing, so I kept my mouth shut. Keeps bugs from flying in there, anyway.