Friday, January 21, 2005

A Bug's Life

In the late '70s, I had enrolled in a Junior College next county over from my home town. Being in an ocean town, it was usually comfortable enough to spend lots of time outside in the sunshine. One beautiful spring day, I had lots of free time, since the others in the car-pool still had classes. I had free time. And I had me a book. I was going to do me some reading. I don't recall the book, but odds are it was an Agatha Christie mystery or an Isaac Asimov novel or collection of short stories. Regardless, I was going to sit outside and read.

I went into the courtyard of one particular complex. I think this was the one that had the cafeteria and a small snack bar. I usually got the Steak-Um sandwiches. Them was good! Anyway, I went into the yard, found an empty chair, and pulled out my book and started reading. I was in a group of four chairs, all facing the center of the small area of seating. There was an empty chair directly across from me. A young lady was in the chair to my left and a long-haired, sandal-wearing hippie was in the chair to the right.

I was reading my book when, after a few minutes, the young lady left. I continued reading for a while longer, but for some reason, after a bit I noticed a bug. He looked like some kind of beetle. But, since I'm not a bugologist, I don't know what it was. But it was crawling along across the cement in the sun.

The bug wandered first one way, then slightly another. Every so often, he'd veer slightly more to one side and make a great arc. He must have realized it, because after his arc had taken him greatly off course, he'd pause, move hesitantly, almost randomly, and then after his movements had him pointed in his original direction, pick up speed and continue his path.

His travels took him past the chair on my left to the leg of the chair directly across from me. The chair was all white and the framework was a hard plastic tube. White plastic webbing completed the chair. Anyway, the bug got to one of the legs of the chair and paused. He moved as if to go around it, but kept coming back in contact with the chair leg. After several seconds of scoping out the chair leg, he tried to climb it.

About the time he seemed to be positioning himself on the way up, he fell over backwards. The bug lay there on it's back, legs crawling frantically in the air. He moved more vigorously and violently, causing himself to occasionally rock. He kept this up for a minute or two, then stopped. After a few seconds, he began again. His respite had paid off. He managed to right himself.

Once back on his feet, the bug seemed resigned to giving up that chair leg and continued his previous path. It took him directly to the other front chair leg. Dancing slightly around the leg, he abruptly changed direction and moved out of the shadow of the chair and into the sun, continuing his journey across the concrete.

His path wandered to one side or another slightly, but he continued his path, leaving the chair directly across from me and headed directly for the chair to my right. About half-way down the path, he wandered to his right somewhat. His altered path took him in front of the chair to my right, the chair occupied by the long-haired hippie-looking fellow who was reading a book.

As I watched, the bug crawled along, about 3 feet in front of the hippie's feet. Every few inches, the bug would pause as if to gather his bearings, then resume his path. His trek continued across the area in front of the chair. He slowly arced away from the hippie's chair and in the general direction of me. After he has passed the chair, he paused. He turned to the left and began a path back towards the hippie's chair again. He oriented himself and inched closer and closer to the front left leg of the chair. As he was within a foot or so of the chair, the hippie looked down and saw the bug. He lifted his hairy-toed, sandal-wearing foot and stepped on the bug.

I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. If I cried, it would be over the tragic end to the creature who I had watch struggle for nearly 30 minutes. If I laughed, it would be because I think I knew how the bug felt.

1 comment:

  1. Big Sis (who's 5'4")January 22, 2005 at 5:47 AM

    Gosh, this was a GOOD one, basil...


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