Insect detente now!

Maybe there’s a deeper sociological significance of grasshoppers. The other day, an ambassador of this curious segment of the insect population caught my attention, making me keenly aware of how close we are to our multilegged terrestrial neighbors.

As I was backing out of my designated space at the rental I inhabit off Merrimon, my subject attached himself to my car’s windshield. Rather than hit the wipers and summarily do away with him, I let my elegant passenger stay aboard—thinking the wind would soon sweep him off to another port. But to my surprise, G-hopper remained firmly planted between the wiper and the glass all the way to Bob Ingle’s place at Beaverdam. That, I thought, is precisely the kind of determination I’ve often lacked myself, having held onto some fairly menial jobs in the past. These grasshoppers have staying power!

Inside the grocery store, I let my taste buds take hold of both my mind and my cart for the next 20 minutes. Never a dull moment in any grocery store in Asheville; the variety of people busy gathering food is astonishing. And if the store didn’t have the brightest lighting in the city, I might have decided to hang out there even longer.

Having loaded the seven or eight half-empty plastic sacks (which could easily have been combined to make three full ones) into my vehicle, I was startled to see the same green passenger there in front of me, stoic and clearly unimpressed with my load. I couldn’t believe it. How long can a grasshopper take the temperature in a busy, baking parking lot? Don’t they have to replenish their water supply or something? I wondered if he was lost. Wouldn’t you think they’d have some kind of inbred guidance system that would enable them to find their way home after being transported by car? The thought made me smile as I made my own way home.

After unloading the bags and stashing their contents, I decided it was time for a trip to the do-it-yourself car wash north of Beaver Lake. I pulled into one of the stalls and, pumping some quarters into the machine, grabbed the sprayer and started on the roof. Around the time I got to the windshield, however, I felt something hit my ankle. Looking down, I saw the grasshopper making for the dry side of the front wheel. It had jumped on me! The grasshopper had actually made contact!

I began frantically re-assessing my past interactions with these mysterious green creatures, thinking about the last possible execution I had unknowingly carried out. Maybe, while driving on another road, perhaps in another town, I’d unwittingly decapitated a bigwig in the grasshopper world and would now feel the unbridled wrath of this whole enormous global population. Mild paranoia swept over me, recalling all the grasshoppers I’d smashed as a kid, stepped on in the woods, tortured with fire, dismembered with friends or unknowingly (but happily) eaten in the many canned foods and microwave entrees I’ve consumed over the years. Were their descendants now going to make me pay for all those gruesome deaths?

I hurriedly finished the wash, taking care not to risk compounding my plight by injuring this angry diplomat. To my horror, however, I looked down just in time to see the sprayer hose whip around, smacking my alien companion senseless—or so I supposed, for he proceeded to swagger directly into the large steel grate covering the drain. I winced at the thought of adding yet another casualty to the lengthy list of grievances the grasshopper nation must already be holding against me.

Placing the fatal sprayer back in its holder, I hurried back to the safety of my home. I could feel my fears gradually subside as I tried to make amends by being extra nice to my neighbor’s cat. Later that evening, the day’s events blithely forgotten, I popped another Lean Cuisine into the microwave.

[North Asheville resident Brent Robinson has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from UNCA.]

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