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Grasshoppers in a Sink
Grasshoppers in a Sink
I’ll never forget the day the grasshoppers came from the sink. I had filled the day with average things. I had gotten out of bed within two minutes of my allotted standard. I had an uneventful morning. I got to use the dentist prescribed toothpaste that my parents use that I’m not allowed to use, because mine was out.Super.
The school day took after my morning routine. I did a bit of walking, a lot of sitting, and day dreamed about a plethora of situations that would save me from the listlessness I had become. I had an average lunch. Taco salad made from the meat we had on a burrito the day before. I came to the realization that I wore the same green shoes every Tuesday. I received an average test score in Algebra 2, and walked an established path back to my common, familiar, suburban home.
From the moment I walked into the door, average was replaced by bedlam. There was screaming, the clashing of knick-knacks hitting wood floor, and…an infinitesimal army of writhing wings and antennae. Hordes of baby grasshoppers were conquering every inch of our kitchen, living room, entry, and had begun an advance down the hallway. Hopping archaic dances around my feet, staring down at me with pits for eyes from the light fixtures and hanging plants. And I looked to my mother, bombarded by itty-bitty bodies, and I said “We had taco salad for lunch.”
She looked at me with big eyes for a little minute and told me this was not the time. She then quickly ordered me to take up a role in the biggest massacre the Western Hemisphere has known. As I made my way to her base in the kitchen, she began to explain the causes leading up to total-warfare. Apparently, a grasshopper laden with babies had chosen our basil plant as dumping grounds. My mother had taken that basil plant inside to harvest from, and thrown a few bad leaves down the disposal. The babies nestled in those leaves, and developed in the quiet and the damp of our disposal until they hatched and were ready to greet the sunshine.
The disposal had harbored them. We would not. This occurrence illustrated
vividly that when it comes to methods of efficient, mass killing; the human imagination knows no bounds.
So it began. We used boxes to squash up to four feet of exoskeleton. We would stamp and squelch and singe for up to an hour, only to realize twenty minutes later that there were more. Had our plant been the dumping ground to multiple mamas? For days this pattern continued. Our efforts were always thwarted as the next wave of hoppers crashed upon the porcelain interiors of the sink.
If we wanted to get away from the bugs, we went outside.
Every time someone called for me on the phone, my little brother would say, “Crystal. Phone.” And I would respond, “Can’t. I’ve got my hands full of grasshopper guts.”
It was unnerving to serve so much death. I began to dream about drowning in a wave of infant insect corpses. Sometimes, I would look into their olive pit eyes, and hesitate before I squeezed their vitals onto the countertop.
It was bearable to me until one grasshopper made it impossible.
He wasn’t like the others. He was milky and tinted with beige. Coffee foam. He had erected himself upon the highest point of the basil plant, and he stood alone. His powerful legs coiled, his antennae quivering. And we understood each other. I didn’t want to kill him, and he didn’t want to die. And none of them wanted to die, and so many had died.
My hands weren’t helping hands—they were hellish hands.
I was killing. Strategically. I had a track record of three days. I ran to the bathroom sink and began to wash my hands. I washed them for five minutes, and then filled them with sick. Then a grasshopper jumped out of that sick. And I vowed to never eat basil again.
I’ve eaten basil once since. I’ve yet to even swat at a fly. It may seem fanatical to you, but I will never again stain my hands. Interesting, that the profound is often a product of common moments that are critically lived.