The Most Disgusting Thing I’ve Ever Done

As a writer, I just had to sit down and type this little mishap up. It was too visceral not to record.

So here’s what happened. Last week, I turned on a lamp in the living room. Flash. The filament cracks to a surge of blue and the light bulb promptly dies.

I unplug the lamp and remove the shade. Here’s where it starts to get ugly: in the white bowl of the lamp shell, when I unscrew the bulb, I discover two deceased insects. “Dead bugs,” you might be saying. “Whoop-dee-frickin’ doo. How old are you again, Julie?” And I would then assure you that I dispatch unwanted spider-guests all by myself, thank you very much, and once chased a cockroach the size of my fist with a can of bug spray. But that’s another story.

These insects– one an orangish lady bug, the other a red-backed, fly-resembling insect I have only ever known as “window bugs”– are fried to a crisp. They are yellow-brown, like straw, and textured as wheat square cereal. It doesn’t take a forensic scientist to see what happened: the bugs had clearly zapped themselves, or for whatever reason become unable to climb out of the lamp bowl, and became trapped at the base where the bulb screws in. By appearances, they have been there for some time: cooking, crisping, browning like the skin of marshmallow held to flame every time someone turned on the lamp.

That’s not even the gross part. The gross part is that in order to screw the replacement light bulb in, I have to take the insects out. I could, I suppose, have fastened the new light bulb in over them, but I didn’t relish the idea of the leg-collapsing crunch this maneuver was liable to make, and now that I knew the bugs were there, the idea of leaving their six-legged corpses to fry every time I sat to peruse the paper was not the most agreeable to me. I decide they’re coming out.

Removal, however, is complicated by the fact that the base of the lamp bowl– the pit in which these crispens reside– is narrow. It is smaller in diameter than a quarter, and only as deep as the base of the bulb. I could probably reach in and dig them out with my fingers, but I am not too keen to get Golden Antennae Crunch stuck under a nail. I resolve to use a tool. Preferably something disposable.

I evaluate my options in the kitchen. Plastic forks and spoons: too large. Straws: no grip. Small spatula/other rubber-tipped utensils: too wide and no grip. It occurs to me that a tea spoon– the elongated tool for stirring beverages, not the measuring instrument– would be both narrow enough to fit and provide some kind of scooping leverage in the sink. But that’s no good; I use these spoons all the time for tea, and would be much happier not remembering the serving of Refried Bugs one of them once exhumed from a dusty lamp crevice, even after washing.

I decide on the pickle fork.

Armed with my weapon of choice, I set to work. The fork is minute and fits easily into the trap, but its collection ability leaves something to be desired: I push the skeletal husks around but they, like the evasive last noodles in a bowl of ramen, refuse to be gathered. Finally I manage to scrape the lady bug, then the window bug, out of the bulb pit, all the way up the side of the lamp bowl, and into the trash.


I then lathered the fork with dish soap, washed it, and put it through the dishwasher for good measure. The insect-picking pickle fork is now back in the drawer, chillin’ with the other silvers. But that’s cool, ’cause I’m exactly not over the moon about pickles. I see no need for anybody who might be to hear this story.



23 responses to “The Most Disgusting Thing I’ve Ever Done”

  1. I do think the professor would have left them in the air. Double-death by electrocution, you know.

    1. Ugh. But then they would be there the NEXT time I had to change the light bulb!

      1. True. But eventually they might turn to dust?

        1. Perhaps. I have no issue with dust. But what about all of the time (and light bulb changes!) in between?

          1. Consider it their mausoleum.

  2. Wimp, you clearly haven’t shopped for dinner here Oh and I noticed the new entry into the Julien Dictionary – crispen used to be a verb only 🙂

    1. Oof! Are those TARANTULAS on skewers? You know, the thought DID occur to me that fried insect of any variety is probably a delicacy in some part of the world. But that doesn’t make it any more appealing to me 😉

      Thanks for noticing ‘crispen’ 🙂 I can’t keep up with all my word-bending!

  3. Never will I eat a pickle in your house,

    I would´ve taken the entire lamp out at the dark of night and left it outside the door of someone I hated that lived faraway. It´s the kindest thing i can think of.

    Frazzled insects always look as though they just might be preteding to be fazzled to death, and could jump out at you at any moment. This is enough of a plot for a Hollywood movie – they can be a bit thin – and I´m going to have trouble sleeping tonight with thoughts of thousands of frazzled insects out for revenge just because of you.

    1. Haha, sorry about the frazzled insect business…counter your bad dreams with thoughts mischievous thoughts of leaving the lamp for somebody else to find! (I love the idea of ding dong-ditching a two-insect-besmirched, faulty-bulbed lamp on a despised person’s doorstep…)

  4. Trust me, you have not seen gross until you’ve accidentally smashed a live mouse under a filing cabinet. For the record, it was an accident.

    1. Gah! I can imagine. On a Disgusting Index, though, I don’t think any crunch can beat Cockroach Crunch.

      1. Once killed a cockroach with a hammer and yes. I can attest to that.

        1. Wow! There’s another disgusting story there, I bet 😉

          1. I’ve lived in Miami and Hawaii which are basically the cockroach capitals of the world. We got lots of disgusting stories.

  5. Ah, a writer’s life! 🙂

    1. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a writer’s life for me.

  6. Fredrik Kayser Avatar
    Fredrik Kayser

    It’s just bugs. 😉 I’m of the mindset, “Do not kill what you do not intend to eat” when it comes to most animals with the exception of insects (even though they’re good protein) and seagulls. Seagulls make something snap in me and if they stray to close… they’re So dead. Spent an entire summer being harrased by seaguls. Had to wear a helmet because of their repetative diving at me. I got so furious that it ended with one of them on the ground being stomped into a fluffy pile of broken bones. Admittedly not one of my greater moments. Their bones are so light that you can’t hear them snap, was like stepping on air. Perhaps not as unpleasant as a bug-story but there it is!

    1. Fredrik, I think that’s a good mindset, but wow and LOL and what! really??? when it comes to the seagulls. (Seriously– did that happen? I’m not the best at telling when a straight-faced person is joking, and in writing it’s even harder.) That’s a story and a half right there! Real or fictitious, there is something both alarming and hilarious about menacing seagulls. You should write about it!

      1. Haha, yeah it really happened. Seagulls are a scourge, a plague! I might just have to now ^^

    2. I once had to suffer a nasty seagull who took a dislike to me on the Lofoten Island of Vaeroy in the north of Norway. I dreaded having to pass it each day on my way to the only shop on the island. None of the others swooped down on me, just that one.

      The others just went along nicely doing what seagulls are supposed to do, gliding about on the wind and squawking. Paranoia, i used to arm myself with stones. But, I must admit, if i killed it, I would´ve definitely cried.

      1. Good God. Remind me never to look a seagull in the eye in Norway! Wonder why they can be so vicious in that part of the world?

  7. Yes I’m disgusted… and how gorgeous and sensitive you are! 🙂

    How the hell did they get so screwed up in there, I have no idea. Funny thing is, I blew a bulb the other day too. I never enjoy that job.

    1. Haha, thanks 😉

      I don’t mind changing a light bulb…I just don’t like insect-related surprises! Unless they are butterflies. Butterflies I’m okay with 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

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