Friday, July 1, 2011

Butterfly Enemy #1 and 2 (and maybe 3)

The first time my oldest son, David, was terrorized by a butterfly, he was 3. He was sitting in a shopping cart in a flower nursery when one landed right on his nose and wouldn’t move. He cried…a lot. It was a big bug, after all.

The second time (age 5), it was when my mother innocently put on a butterfly puppet in the mall and flapped it around him. He screamed like he’d just seen …a big stuffed butterfly overtake his Grandma’s hand. I suppose it did look creepy--5 wiggling black gloved fingers and Grandma making a buzzing sound.

The third time, age 8, he was on a school trip to a butterfly house when another winged-intruder came very close to his face. A couple of nanoseconds of flailing arms and then STOMP, he killed it dead, causing a scene of unimaginable proportions including, screaming, running and hysterical zoo keepers scraping up the remains of the Ruby-throated Pussycat Swallowtail with cardboard. I’m sure there’s an age-enhanced picture of David at the zoo—even now--with a “Keep Him Away from Butterflyarium”” warning.

We’ve made gentle fun of him over the years for it and he’s taken it reasonably well.

Flash forward 20 years, when I take my first turn in a butterfly enclosure. It was very hot and humid in there--to satisfy the needs of the plants and the butterfly cocoons. There were pretty flowers, but buzzing everywhere.

Naturally, one landed on me, and I did the very uncool, “OH MY GOD!” scream and, using both my hands, rapidly flapped at it until it was gone (and I didn’t care where). The entire population of the exhibit (including the butterflies) turned to face me. The guard straightened his face menacingly. I imagined the butterflies lining up and performing stunt flights in a flying “V” and skimming my hair like bats.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave, “the butterfly-loving guard said, which would normally have embarrassed me, but only brought me joy.

“I could kiss you, “I said, sincerely.

In the “Decontamination Chamber” where you go to make sure there are no butterflies are on you, I ran “in place” –which is “hurry up” in body language-- while a “netted” guard whisked one off my neck.

This past weekend I sat outside the zoo's new butterfly exhibit, while my daughter, Krista, and husband, Fred, went in together. I soon spotted a kindred spirit--a woman passing rapidly through the line, knocking children over, and repeating “Get me out of here!” As she rushed past the “Decontamination Chamber” and out, I spotted a butterfly on her back.

Poor thing. The woman, not the insect.


Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Um...I can see where your son gets it from, you nut. You know, butterflies can't bite!!
Between this and the vibrating chair at the mall...well...I don't know what to think!
So, so glad to see you writing more. Love love love your stuff! xxoo

Nick said...

Never thought about butterflies being scary, but a guess they look pretty big to a kid.

Bagman and Butler said...

I see your humor is well intact. We should co-write a sci-fi horror film: "The Butterfly that Ate Washington"...