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Bug off …

My daughter was graciously given a pet salamander by her teacher last year. Why the teacher didn’t like me, I don’t know. The critter eats only bugs smaller than its head size and then only if the bugs are alive. Fascinating; but it loses its appeal after the hundredth bug is captured and put into the tank. Flying bugs have to be semi-stunned. Of course, my daughter refuses to touch any kind of bug. She sometimes hesitates to hug me.

Bugs have a bad reputation. If you want (not kindly) for someone to leave, then you exclaim, “Bug off!” If you want to see something that you shouldn’t, then, “I wish I was a bug on the wall to see that when it happens.” When you electronically eavesdrop, then you have “bugged” the room. A creepy person is sometimes referred to as being “buggy.” A person shocked into disbelief is described as being “bug-eyed.” An infamous gangster was named Bugsy.

My wife looks at me as if I were a bug. I think that is because she complains that I have six arms and a set of feelers to go with them.

Most people think bugs rate alongside things like snakes, backed-up sewers, repo men and politicians. (Sorry if I was redundant.) Nauseating someone is easy when you offer them chocolate-covered grasshoppers, or caramelled ants, or year-old gummy worms. OK, worms aren’t bugs, but you get the point. Halloween just wouldn’t have the kick without spiders (again, not a true bug) or cockroaches or horned beetles or millions of red ants under your bed covers.

Boy, you would almost think I like bugs. I just like how other people react to them. I put a rubber spider in my mother’s bed when I was about 10 years old. As a result of that, she took away my birthday for about five years. I have frozen a plastic bug in an ice cube and served it in someone’s cold drink. Don’t do that with a breakable glass. Don’t do that when your father-in-law has his hearing aid turned on. A fishing string is almost invisible when pulling a rubber bug across someone’s table. Enough, I’m enjoying this too much.

Bugs are actually good. They help pollinate plants. They feed all the birds, bats, smaller fish, bigger bugs and my weird nephew. Bugs help loosen topsoil. They eat and help get rid of stuff that we don’t want to touch. They make great distractions for kids. They make honey. (Don’t tell your kids that honey is actually bee puke.)

If anyone reading this has a bug or two or hundred, please capture them and bring them to my place for Sammy the Salamander to eat. You can even watch, if that fascinates you. He doesn’t chew, just swallows whole. Please deliver them to my wife as if you are doing her a tremendous favor. She will have to sweetly accept them. Can you imagine a living room with about a hundred jars full of all kinds of live, crawling bugs?

In comparison to that, my wife might think I’m not so bad.