Monday, June 20, 2005

Really not that gross

I've grown up with a healthy tolerance for insects. I have no problems with letting caterpillars or beetles or butterflies crawl all over me. This is no coincidence when considering that my father is an entomologist (that's "bug scientist" for those not in the know). My parents have two freezers at home, and at any given time, about half a freezer is full of dead insects in envelopes and Tupperware containers. Butterflies, beetles, whatever; it's all in there. (The other half is probably full of dead fish or game birds.) Our basement has a few massive eight-foot-tall vaults filled with drawers of insects. There's another table covered in stacked boxes of insects near those vaults. It's really quite a sight.

On vacations, my dad would spend a significant portion of the time with his net and equipment, catching butterflies and moths, trapping caterpillars and beetles, and otherwise capturing insects to do his evil bidding. Sometimes we'd be driving along, and he'd suddenly slam on the brakes, pull over, grab his stuff as quickly as he could, and go chasing after a butterfly and be gone for 90 minutes, while we waited in the inevitably hot car. But, hey, you gotta be passionate about something. My mom finally made him stop smuggling insects out of US and Canadian parks a long time ago; now he gets all sorts of permits before he travels anywhere. That's right, they have permits that let you take insects. I guess that there is high enough demand to warrant this.

So, I never grew up really understanding why people tend to find insects and spiders so gross. There are a few things that I do really hate, though: earthworms, cockroaches, and mosquitos come to mind. Mosquitos are obvious. Earthworms are nasty because they're often slimy; I don't mind them if they're dry. Cockroaches are just intolerable; they smell unpleasant, and they just take over if you don't get rid of them ASAP. When I was little, our family lived in my great-grandparents' basement because we couldn't really afford anything else, and their house often had roach problems. I think my dad almost enjoyed bringing home canisters of poison gas from work and fumigating the house. But, seriously, though, roaches creep me out. I hate them. There was nothing more unpleasant than going to put a plate in the sink and seeing a cockroach scurry across the dishes that you eat from.

It was kind of cool living with my great-grandparents, though. I'd see them at some point almost every day, and even though they were too old to really do anything with my brother and I outside, it was good having them around. I always found it weird how some of my friends wouldn't see their grandparents more than once a year, yet I'd see my great-grandparents each day, and my mom's parents at least once a week.

No comments: