Last week I had Jury Duty. I’m pretty sure that will either end up here or in my next book.
Anyway, I’m back.
Two weeks ago I wrote about how I became a hero to my wife by vanquishing an evil enemy. After slaying the repulsive bug beast, I was left with questions. Questions and a red brown sludge filled with legs and wings and small, stringy bits of Palmetto intestine stuck to an old medical textbook. The goo was handled with handfuls of paper towels and only one retch and the book went right in the garbage with the rest of the carnage.
But the questions remained. Why should I be rendered so senseless and violent by one bug? Why do humans have such a visceral hatred towards things that can do us no harm.
Our squeamishness towards snakes and spiders is easy to explain from an evolutionary perspective. Say two horny homo erectus teenagers from 1.8 million years ago were shuffling towards the new, trendy party cave with a nice fermented fruit puddle buzz and they both saw a coiled snake in their path. One kept walking straight with his head down because he was being all sulky because his parents made him do chores which involved bashing in the brains of a wanna-be alpha male with a heavy rock, and the other horny, homo-erectus teenager saw the snake and let out a screech and shimmied his monkey-like ass up into the trees.
Obviously sulky teen dies a horrible death while the screech-y teen gets to the party cave and gets his freak on leaving being a chain of offspring (reaching all the way to Carrot Top and ending there) who are all terrified of snakes. The real tragedy was that the sulky teen’s brothers all survived ensuring the sulky trait would be forever enshrined within the teenage genome.
Even our fear of rats and bats make a semblance of sense because the former spread the bubonic fucking plague throughout the world and wiped out, like, half of Europe, and the latter carry rabies and possibly the old, less-sexy form of vampirism that left people pale with dark hair dye running down their foreheads and really campy accents.
Where was I? Oh yeah, so it makes sense to get all punchy and scream-y with spiders and snakes but why non-lethal bugs?
They’re not poisonous. They can’t bite you or sting you or infect you with a virus that causes you to vomit blood until you die. Even if every inch of your body was covered in them the only way you could die is from panic.
Now that I think about it I’m going to die from panic no matter how I die anyway. Panic will be the primary cause on my death certificate. If I get shot they are going to accuse me of dying of panic with a secondary cause of gunshot wound. If I die in my sleep at age 91, still panic.
I got off track again. I still don’t understand the fear of bugs.
I tried to look up an evolutionary perspective of why people should be so terrified of things that can do us no harm whatsoever. While I did not find the type of answer I was looking for I did learn some facts which only terrified me further.
Palmettos can live up to…
Have … babies
Walk and fuck and sleep and shit all over your food causing …..
Nevermind. I just could not do that to you. After I looked this stuff up, I’m even more terrified of them.
While those horrifying facts caused my OCD to go into convulsions they did nothing to answer my primary question which is still:
Why are we so scared of these things. Because I was unable to find the answer, I’m asking you, my people, to do me a solid and help me figure this out. WHY?
Image source courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I love bats and snakes and I’ve had pet rats (they started out as food for the snake, but were too cute to kill). Most insects don’t even bother me that much. But spiders . . . I think it’s all the legs. Why do they need SO many legs?!! And they are 1000% smaller than me but seem to have no fear of me. They hop TOWARD me for chrissake! What do they know that I don’t? It’s unnatural. And don’t even get me started on all the eyes!
I need to go lie down . . .
I should have known that about you Amy. Everything but the snakes anyway. I don’t mind pet rats. Just the dirty, sneaky, junky rats. I think I need you to come over and protect us. And while you’re here you can help me edit and give me advice for work and disposing of bodies and all sorts of other unpleasantness.
Please and thank you!
Not all humans are scared of bugs – they’re a popular food in East Asia! Have you ever looked at a shrimp? It’s basically an aquatic bug, but you’re not scared of it, right? What you eat, you don’t fear. P.S. locusts taste a bit like shrimp!
I’m not adverse to exotic foods but there’s zero chance of me every eating a Palmetto bug. Not after I’ve seen what comes out of them. They’re basically an alien life form sent to earth to scare us into submission.
Interesting question and I will endeavour some serious (or not so serious) research over the weekend. But the big question is … Jury Duty? You? They let you stay? What the?
I appreciate the research Karen, I’m sure you’ll find yourself as horrified as I did.
I know, right? I kept quiet through the selection process. I wanted to get picked because I love stuff like that.
I’ve often wondered this myself, but I assume the basic answer is that evolutionary advantages are not perfectly designed, they come about very gradually and are not perfectly calibrated to reality. Hence the advantage of being scared of poisonous spiders brings with it the fairly useless terror of other creepy crawlies.
I also cannot stand cockroaches, and feel a physical reaction on seeing a big cockroach, though I know they are basically harmless, they populate my nightmares.
I also have noticed that of all the bugs people don’t like, cockroaches seem to inspire almost universal revulsion.
I think you’re onto something Jackie. Perhaps cockroaches used to be poisonous. Or, there probably are undiscovered species of roaches crawling around in the Amazon jungle right now and when one lands on a male teenager he’s like, “No biggie, just a roach,” but then it sticks him with a tiny poisonous penis and the teenager is all like, “Oh noo’s it was the deadly fleshraper roach,” before collapsing in a heap while his friends laugh because teenagers are dicks everywhere on this planet.
I think you’ve solved it!
Okay, that rat picture is just creepy. Thanks, pal. I’m going to have nightmares for a week.
Bugs don’t scare me. They bug me, as you can see in this post: http://squirrelsinthedoohickey.com/?p=1463
Welcome back by the way. Looking forward to hearing your tales about jury duty! I always seem to nab the grisly murder trials. Luckily, I haven’t had to serve. That’s one advantage of having anxiety!
Thanks, glad to be done. Although I did enjoy it more than I ever dreamed. Put me in a party and I run. But when I know I’m forced to be somewhere and interact with other humans, and just accept the fact, I always enjoy myself.
It was only an aggregated battery, and yeah, I’ma write all about it.