July 2nd, 2016



Bugs.  I never liked bugs.  And bugs hated me.

My brother Buck liked bugs.  Liked them to extremes; he loved to spend hours in the field looking for bugs, caterpillars, spiders, moths, butterflies, flies of any type. The weedy fields, stinking in summer sun of milkweed, mosses, lichens, goldenrod; from these he would pluck the most luscious specimens.  I don’t remember his ever having a ‘collection’ as such, just catching lots of bugs.

I didn’t like bugs.  They bit me!  Always.  And I had an adverse reaction to bug bites.  For some people, a bee sting was just a minute’s worth of bother, and then it was gone; for me, each bite became — no, becomes — a large welt, that either hurts like mad for days on end (bees) or itches like crazy for weeks.  Get enough of these bites, and I’m just one massive welt  (or my arm is, or my legs, or my forehead or (I despise this part) my scalp, beneath my hair.  Luckily, I suppose, that I don’t have the kind of extreme allergic reaction that requires injections of  epinephrine; but it’s still bothersome. And as a kid, I must have been especially sweet and juicy.

About the age of ten: One summer evening — it could have been July 4th, or some such occasion — the family gathered, parents, kids, grandmother (Boggin), for a cookout.  It was under the apple tree in her backyard, redolent of sweet, apples rotting on the ground, the busy, buzzing bees’ treat.  And mosquitos galore!  As the sun disappeared into the west, behind the soaring elm trees, no one else seemed to notice the insects, or  much care, but for me it was too much, a swatting, flicking, shrinking time under attack from the stupid, stupid insects.

I spent most of the evening watching, from Boggin’s screened-in porch, the happy campers outside under the apple tree.  But I was staying inside, away from the damn mosquitos, gnats, bees and wasps.  I watched from inside, bugless, sting-free.  In the growing darkness, fireflies sprinkled the remote bckyard. It was kind of lonely in there.  But much less itchy.

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