I am aware, that as a blog having adult person, I should be using my platform to say something about Robin Williams, ISIS beheadings, Ferguson, or the impact of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. Or, perhaps, all of these things, in one big Extravaganza of Depressing Social Consciousness. There has been a lot of great, thought provoking work (and, to be honest, a lot of utter crap) written about all of these things. Personally, I have lots of thoughts and opinions I’d like to share as well, and I’ve been sitting here trying to do so, and for some reason I just can’t today.
So instead, I’m going to talk about something else.
In general, when it comes to nature, I am a tree hugging hippie type. Spiders discovered in my home are summarily escorted outside and deposited in the window box that is supposed to hold a small herb garden but in reality contains some dried up twiggy bits that may once have been basil and a strange, unidentified weed that I think tried to be corn and failed. This courtesy is extended to all insects that somehow wind up indoors, excluding only those creepy multi-legged things that just suddenly appear on your walls near the ceiling just after you’ve gotten into bed and flies that like to taunt my cats, who totally deserve it, because my cats are assholes.
However, slugs….I just cannot. I really don’t know why. They’re not more or less offensive than any other crawly, slithery thing that lives outside. It may be because I have an early memory of my mom asking me to turn off the porch light, and I reached out the screen door without looking and wound up putting my hand directly on top of a big ole banana slug that was just chillaxing on top of the light switch. I remember the brief nanosecond of confusion when my skin encountered something cold and slimy, and the complete and utter horror when the cold and slimy thing moved slightly. My dum dum kid brain immediately conjured up a suddenly sentient booger, which it then immediately correlated with the boogeyMAN, and then I ran away screaming.
So that could be it.
Or it could be that, if I’m really honest with myself, my spirit animal is perhaps best represented by a slug. By this, I mean that we both emerge at night, move slowly with no discernible direction whatsoever, and leave a shiny trail of mild destruction behind us.
So basically, the slug is a visceral manifestation of my own self loathing. Or maybe I just have a Master’s degree in Humanities.
And the slugs know it, they do. Their tiny slug brains hold little information other than how to secrete slime, but they have some sort of pseudo reptilian instinct that compels them to randomly appear and completely decimate any tiny shred of dignity that I have managed to cling to despite all the existing and compelling evidence that I really shouldn’t bother.
Case in point:
A few years ago, Patrick and I were living in the old slave quarters of a downtown Frederick mansion, which had been converted into an apartment. It was the sort of place you lived in because it had character, and because being within walking distance to several bars was an important factor when choosing a place to live. It was not the sort of place you lived in because you cared about stuff like the floors being even or having a bathroom that had not obviously been installed as an afterthought. One of the great things about it was its proximity to Baker Park, which is a huge sprawling green space right in the middle of Frederick’s historic district. I liked to go there and confuse the emo skateboard kids by practicing my Irish dancing on the bandshell stage, and my afternoon walk/jog (to be honest, most of the time I kind of settled into speed walk territory) from one end of the park to the other was a daily ritual.
One day, while jogging as slowly as possible without actually standing still, I saw a small crowd of people gathered near one end of the park’s lake. They all seemed to be watching something. Being curious (actually, incredibly nosy and vaguely stalkery – one of my favorite things to do is drive around at night, because people have their lights on and you can look through their windows and see how they decorate their houses), I stopped near the edge of the lake and took a gander (this is a hilarious pun that will make sense in a minute) at what they were watching.
The lake was full of ducks and geese, which is not at all unusual, it being a lake and all. What was unusual were the antics of three – two male and one female – ducks, who appeared to be engaging in a duck threesome. (A visit to a wildlife exhibit at the Museum of Sex a few years later would suggest that duck threesomes are, in fact, a fairly common occurrence). After a few minutes of waterfowl thrashing around, the female grew irritated with the situation and flew away, with the two males in close pursuit.
Because I have a strong tendency towards teh dumbz, I failed to notice that the rest of the crowd had quickly dissipated, due to the fact that the ducks were all flying quite low and didn’t seem to much care if anything – like, say, a short redhead – happened to be standing in their flight path. I figured it out too late, ducked, slipped in goose shit, and fell. into. the. lake.
You know what else is cold, wet, slimy, and unexpected? Goose shit filled lake water.
I ran – not jogged – not speed walked – ran – back to my house. My husband had come home from work and was sitting in the living room reading The Washington Post like a person who doesn’t routinely fall into lakes while taking cover from horny ducks. “What the hell happened to you? And what’s that smell?” he asked as I squelched, whimpering, past him, on my way to the shower.
“Unnnngghhhhh!!” I replied, eloquently.
Shower – on! Lake water filled clothes and shoes – off! Industrial grade soap – lathered! Silkwood style scrubbing ensued.
I was just starting to feel like I could maybe interact with other humans without someone asking, “What’s the smell?” when I felt something kind of…rubbery on my foot. I have been trying for the last ten minutes, but words fail me – I cannot describe the total and abject horror I felt when I looked down and saw a slug, which had crawled through the ancient plumbing and out the shower drain and onto my foot.
I started doing that closed mouth, wordless screaming you do (you do, right? It’s not just me? Right?) when something really and truly horrifying has happened. The noise drew my husband to the bathroom, where he pulled open the frosted glass shower door and revealed me, plastered against the shower stall wall with industrial grade soap lather sluicing off my skin, with my foot held as far away from my body as I possibly could.
The slug, for his (Its? Slugs are asexual, I think?) part, was continuing the journey across my foot it had started five minutes ago.
“GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFF!” I shrieked, right into the face of this poor man who had probably thought he was marrying a nice American girl who was capable of avoiding being traumatized by shelless terrestrial gastropod mollusks.
“Right. Uhhh…should I get some salt, I guess?” he said.
“NONONONO! Just flush it!” I gasped. Salt would take way too long, and I would probably need to be institutionalized if I had to stand naked in a shower, on one foot, while my handsome foreigner husband, who could probably just up and leave the country if he wanted to, poured salt on my foot and watched a slug dehydrate to death on my skin. However, watching my husband, his face creased in disgust, use a paper towel to remove the slug from my foot and ceremoniously flush it down the toilet was almost as bad.
We are proof that a strong marriage can survive anything.