2008 30 May

Beware the Grasshopper

Author: Shawn Categories: Shawniverse

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Yesterday, I went outside to let the dog I’m watching relieve herself. I usually sit on the steps while she does her duty, but not yesterday. To my horror, there was a grasshopper sitting where I usually do.

Now most of you would probably say, well, just shoo it away. That’s a big problem, see. I am mortally terrified of grasshoppers. Just typing the name makes my heart race.

I backed away hoping peeful puppy would send the evil insect hopping. Not so. Thus reconfirming my belief that they are fearless creatures from Hades, and deliberately torment me whenever given the opportunity.

You react with laughter, yes, I know. I’m used to it. It doesn’t change my perception. I know it’s ridiculous. Most people are afraid of snakes or spiders or mountain lions or clowns or midgets. I’m not afraid of any of those things.

But hoppers? They are evil incarnate.

It all started in my uncle’s backyard in Denver when I was eleven. Where I grew up, outside of Chicago, they are little green things. The crickets are bigger than they. In the West, however, they are gigantic brown malicious creatures that not only hop around, but can FLY!

I was eleven. I was bored out of my mind because my cousins had year round school and they were gone. The backyard wasn’t finished yet. It was full of dust and weeds. But no biggie, right? It was a beautiful summer day. My imagination was fully engaged. I could find something to do. Plus, I had already been out there playing with my cousins. We had barbecued out there, too.

So, my uncle was at work. My mom and aunt were chatting. My sister was three and playing with our three year-old cousin, or maybe they were napping. I announced that I would be going out to play. No objections were sounded. I’m sure I was driving my mother bonkers. I was a very hyper kid.

I slid the glass door open and triumphantly bound out into the dusty yard. I got about ten feet from the house and was attacked. Yes, attacked. There were battalions of the beastly brown devils laying in wait for me.

They assaulted my arms and legs, my front and back, my face and hair, bouncing off of me, crawling on me, leaving trails of goo. I utterly freaked out. I began screaming and whipped my hands around, pumped my legs up and down, and madly crashed into the glass door.

My mom and aunt looked out after I nearly broke the glass and let me in. I screamed some more and relayed to them, through gasps and wheezes,  that these giant brown bugs had jumped all over me and tried to eat me!

My aunt laughed and said they were just grasshoppers. I did not laugh as tears streaked my face. My mom smiled but she didn’t laugh either.

I didn’t think about them again for a long time after returning to the safety of Chicago. The little green ones still didn’t bother me, but we hardly ever saw those. Crickets, giant June bugs, garden snakes, lightning bugs, lots and lots of mosquitoes and gnats, but few hoppers.

I returned to Colorado when I was 18. My family had moved there when I went to college. A friend from college also lived there, so we spent some time hanging out over the summer. Her mom had a new house under construction, so we went to see.

The area was new, dusty, and weedy. We happily got out of my friend’s car and walked toward the “A” frame. One of those ghastly things jumped right into my path. like a black cat, but way creepier. I was suddenly and abruptly petrified. I began to hyperventilate, shake, and tears started bursting out of my eyes. My heart was beating at the speed of light. Fortunately, my friend knew me well, spotted the problem, and shooed it away.

She was surprised, as most people are, that I could fear anything, let alone something so benign to most. And it’s true, I don’t fear much.

Grasshoppers are pure evil. I worked up the courage and actually stared one down. It stared back. I was about ten feet away and my heart was pounding so hard, I thought my ears would explode. Had the vile thing moved, I would have launched myself into space, but I was determined. And that stare down gave me the knowledge. I understood. They are creatures of the dark. You can see it in their eyes.

The moral of this story? Be careful out there in the weedy dirt. They may come when you think you’re safe. The little representatives from hell are patient and calculated. They will fly in onto the dashboard of your car, sit right in front of you, and stare at you while you drive. I know. It happened. I didn’t even turn off the car when I got home, I just opened the door and ran.

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