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I remember those days back in Ocean City, Maryland.

Our family would go every break and stay at my grandparents’ motel, run around the sandy beach, and go visit our favorite game rooms on the Boardwalk. I can remember so many details…every smell, every sound, every sight…

But that’s for another entry at another time.

In this particular memory, I was a little under 10 at the time, and I discovered the most powerful weapon an evil older sister with a scaredy-cat younger brother could find. And oh, how I cherished that power.

Dotting along the beach’s coast were dried skate egg sacs: dark, black, alien-looking husks with menacing tentacle-like protrusions. Perfect for picking up and freaking out little brothers.

I spent the majority of that day hiding the sacs under Peter’s pillow (for him to discover when he’s about to go to bed), in my pocket (for the perfect opportunity to spontaneously grab and throw at him), and just chasing him with the thing, purposefully slowly my pace to prolong the chase.

He screamed, he hid, he cried, and me (again, being the evil older sister I was), had a jolly old time. I remember having to take breaks to catch my breath between laughing fits…

10 years later…

I look at my clock. Almost 1:00 am.

I roll over to turn my desk lamp off before going to bed when I see the little bugger hugging the wall above my head.

Silverfish. AUGH. Gross!

They may be common in Maryland (and all throughout the East Coast), but I still can’t get over their creepiness factor combined with their habit of hiding in books. Cracking open my favorite novel, all cozy in bed, and having a skittering silverfish dash out is enough to age me about 10 years per traumatic event.

I knew what to do.

Tiptoeing across the hall, I knock softly on Peter’s door. He’s asleep, I know, but there’s no way I’m gonna kill that thing on my own.

Opening the door, I see him snuggled under his comforter, only his bare, gangly ankle sticking out.

I grab his ankle and shake it vigorously.

“Peter…” I whisper loudly. “Are you awaaaake?”

He groans and rolls over. “Whaaaat?”

“There’s a silverfish in my rooooom. Help!”

He rolls out of bed, sleepy, his stereotypically slitted Asian eyes somehow even smaller than usual. As I tip-toe back to my room, I hear him drag his feet noisily behind me.

“There!” I whisper, pointing to the wall.

Peter walks up to the wall and puts his face a foot away from the bug. For a few seconds, he peers at the thing through his sleep-puffed eyes.

Without warning, he slaps the wall with his bare hand and squishes the silverfish.

I jump.

He stares at the dead bug plastered on his hand before pushing past my frozen figure to wash it off in the bathroom. Without a word, he walks back to his room, closes the door behind him and goes back to sleep.

I stare at my bug-less wall for another minute.

Shaking my head, I turn off my light and go to bed myself.

I can’t believe that boy used to be afraid of dried egg sacs.

A Cartoon Stuck in a Real Girl’s Body

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July 2010