Driving to work and home has been an exercise in patience this summer with the road construction. Just recently we’ve been able to drive 70 from our approach all the way to town. Odd the things that seem like a “treat.” Odder still that after all the complaining about going slow, it’s taken concerted effort to make ourselves actually drive as fast as the speed limit. But me and my trusty cruise control have persevered.

So imagine my chagrin yesterday at having to stop along the scant 5 miles to town — twice — because I can’t drive and be skeeved at the same time.

I had just gotten up to speed and put the cruise on for the next 4-plus miles of open black top (sunlight at my back, blue skies ahead) when I felt a scratchy sensation on the front of my left shoulder. Oh great, I thought, I’m such a hayseed I can’t dress myself without bringing half a bail of hay with me as an accessory.

I scratched around with my left hand to find the offending vegetation and realized there was a little lump under my shirt. A suspicious lump. A lump that crawled—buuuug! Bugbugbug in my shirrrrt!

It’s not that I’m particularly afraid of bugs, I’m this way about my personal space with every stranger. And frankly, if I discovered some skeezy guy pawing around inside my shirt I would’ve reacted with a great deal more creeped-out, panic-fueled force. Someone would’ve gotten a knee to the slats, and it wouldn’t have been me. So I think my reaction to the unidentified bug in my shirt was appropriate and rather subdued, all things considered — including consideration of the number of sinister-looking bugs we have around here.

I firmly pinched the bugbugbugbug! in a fold of fabric (without squishing it, I was heading to work after all, and trying not to be a big panicky freak about the bugbugbu-u-u-u-g!) with my left hand, which ended up tangled in or around or with or otherwise impeded by the seatbelt. I finally got my hand out of that fiasco, without losing the bugbugbugbugbug in my shirt! and tried to push the pinched material and bugbugbuuug to the right far enough that I could flip it out the open collar. But my effing arm was, y’know, still in the sleeve and I yanking harder was only managing to cloth burn my armpit.

Mind you, thanks to my cruise control and the gods of construction, I was still traveling at 70 miles per hour down the road with a bug in my shiirrrt. So I wedged my thigh into the steering wheel and tried reaching my right hand into my shirt to grab the bug-bug-buuaaaaugh! but, in an amazingly clear flash of foresight, I imagined the uncontrolled and spastic flailing about that would result if A) I actually managed to get a hold of the buginmyshirt! with my fingers and it turned out to be a biter, or B) I actually lost control of the bugbugbug! and it went on a wild rampage further into my shirt, up my right arm, or into my face (and really, fates forfend that last one should happen).

I decided to pull over, but I was still trying to be, y’know, not a crazy person, and that meant I had to go another 3/4 mile to the next safe turnout with a freaking bug pinched between my freaking fingers inside my freaking shirt. Not happy.

I sanely pulled into a driveway entrance, put the car in park and unhooked my seatbelt (in case I needed to dive out into the middle of the westbound lane of U.S. Highway 2 during morning traffic to get away from the bugbugbug BUG in my SHIRT. Still sane). I steeled all my resolve, reached into my shirt, grabbed the damn bug and pulled it out. Hah! Huh?

Plain as can be, the only thing I had in my right hand was a grasshopper leg.

Despite weighty evidence to the contrary, I am not completely lacking of wit. My brain fired off a quick systems check to the surface nerves of my entire upper right side, and I felt nothing. The rest of my brain was a little embarrassed about freaking out over one solitary grasshopper leg, while being a tad confused about how said grasshopper leg got into my shirt.

I mean, it was safe to assume that the leg didn’t walk there all by itself, right. I reasoned that maybe one of those random hoppers that has managed to find its way into the house died before I could catch it, and its corpse was on the bed where I set my shirt momentarily while getting dressed that morning. That’s not such a bad thought, I mean aside from the fact that there might be a grasshopper carcass in my bed. (And lord knows I’ve had worse.)

Just to be on the safe side, I half exited the car and shook my untucked shirt and patted down my torso but didn’t feel the rest of the grasshopper. I was pretty satisfied with my logic, my rather calm response despite the fact that I had a bugbugbugbuu-uugh in my shirt and the reasonably benign outcome of the event.

Down the road again, still on time enough for work, up to speed, cruise control—and the spiny-legged mother-fucker was in my sleeve crawlingonmyarm! Buginmyshirt! Buginmyshiiiirt!

Honestly, I don’t normally get wound up about grasshoppers, but by now I was kind of, pretty well, juiced up on adrenalin because, in case you hadn’t heard, I had a bugbugbugbugbug crawling around, freakin’ in my shirt. No, not happy at all.

And those grasshopper feet are creepy, clingy, scratchy. Just so you know, in case you’re wondering about whether or not you should invite one to just hop on into your own shirt some day.

I knew there was a good turnout into a business parking lot a mile ahead, so I just held that grasshopper pinched into a fold of my sleeve and cussed him every last yard of the distance. When I finally got parked, I had to fight the urge to jump out of the car, tear my shirt off and hop around flapping it in the wind, leaving bra-clad me and my fat rolls on display for the gods and any passerby with video capability.

Sanely, I simply reached up inside my shirt and halfway down my sleeve, and I yanked that little three-legged bastard from whence he shouldn’t have been creeping around anyway.

He gave me a crabby look and started dribbling brown juices down his chin, like that was going to endear him to me, change my opinion about his recent activities.

“I hope you get hit by a car, asshole!” was the last thing that grasshopper heard from me before I flung him out the window toward the highway and drove off to work.

Two minutes late.

Friends don’t let friends drive skeeved at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

*”Beginning of the End” (1957)

Advertisements