(I wrote this back in September.)
Tonight Saint Aardvark went off to his beer club meeting (no, really, it’s a club, not just a bunch of people drinking beer) and I did the long shift with the children: 7 am – 7:30 pm. When I do the long shift, I reward myself. I cook food for the kids that they will like and food for me that I will like. Tonight, for myself, I made a frozen macaroni and cheese (1 kg!) in the oven and added extra garlic and red peppers and some slices of salami all crisp and salty on top. After I tucked the kids into their beds, I came downstairs and doused a bowl of macaroni and cheese with Sriracha sauce and sat down on the couch, remote controls in hand and ready for some trashy TV.
Of course we don’t have cable TV any more so I was going to watch Pan Am or Damages on Netflix. Those are the shows I am watching on Netflix lately.
Except Netflix didn’t work. I restarted the Boxee Box and it still didn’t work. You will trust me that these things are supposed to work, right? If you are reading this from the future or from a place where a Boxee Box is a container of delicious food that you get from the deli? In this case, that is not what a Boxee box is. A BB is supposed to make Netflix happen on my television while I sit on my ass and eat mushy things and get old.
Netflix didn’t work. My macaroni and cheese bowl was getting cold so I came over to my computer and tried to read some things. I don’t like to just eat, you see. I know I should just eat. I have read all the things — some of them I have read while eating, some not — that say you should appreciate your food and be in touch with the flavours and feel the feelings but I say this is frozen macaroni and cheese and I just want to shovel it in my mouth and do something else until my stomach is full. Heck you don’t even have to chew it. It’s practically pre-chewed.
Now that sounds disgusting, but it’s comfort food. You understand.
I read a couple of articles, quick ones, and followed a link to a third and when I did, the computer seized up and did that thing where it feels like it’s half-closed its eyelids and is having a spell and will soon be in need of smelling salts. The screen went grey and hung there, while I read the same paragraph several times and shovelled several mouthfuls of rapidly colder macaroni and cheese into my mouth.
“OK,” I said. “OK. I guess I should just restart.”
I did. I restarted and it took two tries and I got mad and cursed at god and everyone and then finally looked over at my bookshelf and grabbed a book. It’s called Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir and it is about a woman who was taken prisoner in Iran when she was sixteen years old. It’s an excellent book, very gripping.
That’s when I heard the noise. It was a low buzz, like a dragonfly. I know about dragonflies because in the summer I was in Ontario and I thought the noise I was hearing was a giant mosquito — don’t laugh, it could have been — and it was instead a dragonfly all low and hologram-blue vibrations over the lake. Tonight when I heard the noise my first thought was “Dragonfly?” My second was, “This computer is dying now.” My third was, “A noisy car outside.” Then, out of the corner of my right eye I saw a small item flying through my living room, landing on the thin shelf attached by bracket to my wall.
I looked down at the cat, whose head was cocked and eyes were wide.
I looked back at the shelf, where a large insect now rested.
Was it a wasp? A bee? Where had it come from? The nights are cool, we keep the windows shut and the one window that’s open has a screen. Because I don’t like bugs in my house.
I got up from the table and slowly walked towards the bug. It was a beetle. It looked like a larger version of the beetles that used to come in our house at the end of summer, a couple of years ago. Large, beetle, that flies. A shiver ran down my spine and I came back to my table and tweeted about it.
I was hoping for commiseration but no one was paying any attention to me on twitter that night.
After some hemming and a great deal of hawing, I decided to stare at the bug and maybe take its picture. I tried to zoom in from a few feet away but the photo was boring and did not capture the full excitement of the bug’s size and peculiar attributes, namely being in my living room, having appeared from nowhere.
Or was it nowhere, I thought, looking behind me at the open clamshell container of organic grapes on my kitchen counter. Could a live bug have been resting in a container of organic grapes and just woken up and taken a buzz around my living room? Was it a tropical bug? Was it going to BITE me?
The shivers down my spine turned into ripples. Something would have to be done. Luckily the bug did not keep me waiting but took a short, exploratory flight to a flat surface, the wall. I went quickly to the plastic container cupboard and took out a sandwich container, then clapped it over the bug before I could lose my nerve. It dropped to the bottom of the container with a sickening crackling noise and I nearly dropped the container but did not.
I slid a canvas of my child’s artwork against the container to trap the bug (many sheets of paper within my grasp having been discarded for this purpose for being too small, too thin, too likely to wobble and let the bug free again) and brought him over to the table so I could update twitter.
The bug stayed still. I was not without empathy, after all if he *was* a bug from a tropical grape forest, who knows how long he had been in that clamshell full of grapes. Who knew how cold he was, or whether he could even see anything. My empathy stopped short, as he was still a creepy looking beetle. I am not a bug-phobe, obviously or I would have run outside and waited for Saint Aardvark to get home, but I do not much care for things with more than two legs. Especially if they are strange to me, and can fly, and also look like beetles.
Which really makes no sense; after all, a spider would be likely to bite, and a wasp would sting. A beetle just crackles along and sounds like it’s wearing tiny high heels and maybe it’s the resemblance to cockroaches. Maybe. I used to live in a cockroach infested apartment and I am not fond of beetles.
Anyway, I eventually garnered the courage to take the bug outside, where I placed the canvas on the stoop across the sidewalk from my patio and then removed the plastic container, as though I was a fancy waiter revealing a mouth-watering dish to a hotel guest ordering room service. The bug didn’t move. It was a great deal colder outside than inside, and that much colder than where those grapes had come from.
The bug just sat there, under the light. I knocked the canvas with the plastic container and he slid off, into the dirt.
Back inside, I drank a bit of rum. And then picked up Prisoner of Tehran again and went to bed.