A close encounter with: BUGS!

Cindy ArpPowell

Once, when my father was taking up football tickets at the field near our house, an enormous beetle with evil-looking pinchers flew down the chimney. Mother grabbed a glass jar and placed it over the bug. For good measure, she added a heavy antique iron on the top.


When Dan was in the Navy and was gone Thursday nights for ship duty, I would clean the house. One night, I bravely vacuumed up a palmetto bug, turned off the machine and watched that bug walk out of the vacuum tube.

Desperate, I grabbed a bleach bottle and placed it over the bug. When we came home after work the next day, Dan saw the bottle, picked it up and out walked the bug, again.

Sadly, palmetto bugs weren’t through with me. When our 12-year-old son and I spent a week in Florida with my vacationing parents, a marauding palmetto bug showed up in our bedroom. With my sleeping parents in the next room, Seth and I raged for a quiet but fierce battle. We won, but were vigilant the rest of the trip.

For about eight years, Dan had a job requiring him to be out of town one night a week. I was teaching, came home tired, decided to lie down for a few moments and woke up around 8 p.m. There was laundry to do, and I decided to start a load of wash.

Wolf spider

With an upstairs laundry chute ending in the downstairs bathroom, retrieving the wash requires one to reach into the almost chest-high chute. As I reached in, I thought I saw something skitter away, but decided I was wrong. Reaching in again, I almost put my hand on top of a wolf spider. Jumping back, I retreated to the top step and called Dan.

Me: “There’s a Godzilla spider in the laundry chute!”

Dan: “Honey, I am 50 miles away.”

Me: “One of our neighbors is a policeman! I haven’t met him yet, but I think I’ll call.”

Dan: “Really?”

I called.

A few minutes later, our policeman neighbor arrived at the door. He met ridiculous me who said, “I know we haven’t met yet, but there is a HUGE SPIDER in the house! Could you please help?”

Having undoubtedly dealt with hysterical people before, Robert assumed his professional “all will be well” persona, asked for a tissue and bravely marched downstairs. I stayed on the top step. After several tries, Robert saw the spider, jumped back and said, “I didn’t know they came that big!” However, he upheld his duty to protect the public and got rid of the problem.

It is possible that I have issues with bugs.

Fortunately, through the years, I have come to change my mind about bugs. I might think they are scary, but they are God-made creatures, too. The same former 12-year-old who helped me oust the Florida palmetto bug now lives in California and talks about the tarantulas he sees while out running. During mating season, they are all over the trails he takes. Seth says they are slow, furry and cute. He worries others will accidentally step on them so whenever he sees one, he stands guard as they make their way across the path, hurrying to find their true love.

I’m still not wild about bugs, but the other day, when I opened the shower curtain to clean an infrequently used bathtub, a large spider was sitting there. I didn’t call the police this time. I wished the spider well, closed the curtain and let him be. When I looked a day later, he was gone. I resolutely did not think about where he went. That, my friends, I call progress.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.

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