Bugs and Birds

There’s a short story we read years ago about people walking around covered in living bugs. Okay, we’re two-fisted guys and this kind of thing shouldn’t bother us. But we gotta say, sorry, no way do we want to see this image in our heads or hear much about it.

A two-fisted birdwatcher!

A two-fisted birdwatcher!

Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones (now there’s a two-fisted bird watcher!) and some sleazy crook were in a cave in the Amazon jungle and the sleazy guy’s covered with tarantulas?

The guy sorta deserved it because he was double crossing Indy, but who cares. The bugs were hard to look at. Yeah, yeah, spiders are not bugs; they’re arachnids. But we don’t want to split spider hairs here. The point is: nobody wants to have bugs crawling on them.

"Don't bug me, okay?"

"Don't bug me, okay?"

When we’re bothered by things we say we’re “bugged.” Something’s bugging us, right? Your wife says, “Honey, you’re quiet, what’s bugging you.” And you say “Don’t bug me, okay?”

Worries bug us. Problems bug us. People bug us. Bugs bug us. Go out on what should be a beautiful summer night and mosquitoes that might carry West Nile bug you. Walk in the woods to look at birds down by the river, a quiet pleasure, and ticks that carry Lyme disease bug you. Check into a hotel in Manhattan and maybe bedbugs will bug you.

Sorry!

Sorry!

This is getting creepy. And we didn’t want to talk about bugs at all! Where are we going with this? Simple. We’re going to get rid of bugs.

And by bugs we mean the literal kind, like the one crawling behind your computer, and also the metaphorical kind—the worry, the problem, the angst.

(Time out: Do two-fisted birdwatchers get angst? Do they even know the word? Good question. Sorry about that. From now on, the word angst is banned from this site.)

Something to avoid

Something to avoid

Back to that story we didn’t want to talk about: People covered with bugs. How does it end? The hero and his girlfriend go into the woods and sit on a log. It’s peaceful and pretty. Eventually birds come around. The couple doesn’t move, just sits there with bugs on their skin, in their hair, tap dancing on their shoulders.

The birds get brave and hop onto the people. They start eating the bugs! Robins and tanagers. Crows and wood thrushes. Bluebirds and flycatchers. All honest meat eaters. They gently alight on our heroes and pick away. The forest is pleasant. The sun is coming through treetops. There’s the sound of water in a distant creek. A rustle of wind in the leaves.

Chow down, old friend

Chow down, old friend

At the end of the story, the bugs are gone and the guy and his girlfriend take a deep breath. The nightmare is over. Birds have saved the day. The writer of this story was using a literary device to tell us a simple truth.

The literary device was horror—the idea of bugs all over us. The truth was that nature and an appreciation of birds can make the things that bother us go away. Bugs symbolize problems and troubles. Hey, just look at the word: bugs.

DEET

Moral of the story. When you’re bothered by the nagging little problems of life, get your butt into the woods. Sit on a rock or by a stream. Unwind. Watch the birds. Let them do their work. They won’t literally eat bugs off you, but they’ll get rid of them all the same.

Just don’t get West Nile or Lyme while you’re out there. A metaphor can only take you so far.

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