I am the terror that flaps in the night.
When I was a junior in high school, I was a part of a theatre group for kids in their early teens to early twenties. We’d cast, director, costume, stage and perform a play. It was pretty darn cool. For someone who wasn’t very popular in their own high school, the novelty of suddenly being one of the cool kids, even in a group that maybe, from the outside, wasn’t actually cool…was pretty great.
That summer was one of the first where I started adventuring at night. I’d found a group of other teens, they had cars and licenses and, after rehearsal, we’d stay out and go to 24 hours restaurants, tease, flirt, and generally be teenagers. It was fantastic. There’s just something wonderful about being out at nighttime in the summer, when you’re young.
This particular evening, we went to Perkins. I remember sitting at the end of a bunch of tables we’d all smushed togther and throwing straw wrappers and nibbling on the edges of a bread bowl. It was was about 11:30 or so when we finally decided to pack up.
I’d ridden with a guy who was going to be joining the army at the end of the summer, someone who, I’d imagine, would be good in an emergency. Someone, also, who gestured kind of wildly…so as we left Perkins, into the warm, summer night air, we walked past the lights outside the restaurant.
And a moth, with a death wish, dive bombed him.
He backhanded it, and in a moment that I wish there was instant replay for…it went INTO my ear.
I would be hard pressed to come up with something that feels more awful than a foreign, living, creature suddenly inside a bodily orifice.
I started screaming.
And Mr. Army Guy? He stood there looking at me like I was crazy. And that he didn’t know what to do. As luck would have it, the rest of my cast mates started filing out of the restaurant. One girl sees me, bent over, pulling at my ear and asks me what’s wrong. I whimper “I have moth stuck in my ear.”
So she runs into the restaurant, and I can hear her yelling “Does anyone here have tweezers? C has a moth stuck in here ear.”
Ahhh, the humiliation just continues…fantastic.
Now the director has emerged. She’s fairly capable and good in a crisis. So she pulls me to the light. Some idiot makes a joke about the moth seeing the light on the other side of my head and crawling out my other ear.
Despite the fluttering distraction in my head, I contemplate his murder.
She starts pulled on the earlobe and blowing into my ear. With every pull I feel the fluttering and it is awful.
Now I’m envisioning going to the emergency room and trying to explain it.
An older lady walks past and asks “Is she having a seizure?”
I again contemplate murder. I also briefly wonder if moths have inherent murderous tendencies.
After what seems like hours, the director has a good pull and somehow, the moth is pulled from my ear.
That’s when I really start sobbing. The moment is past, but it still feels like something is there, maybe just the memory of it. They bundle me up in a car and take me home.
I walk in the house, still crying, a mess and my parents are rightly concerned and ask me “Sweetie, what happened?!”
And, gulping from breath I say “…walked out of Perkins…lights…moth stuck in my ear…”
There’s a long pause.
And my loving parents burst out laughing.
After they calm down, my mom runs a bubble bath for me, with her fancy, special bubble bath that looks like champagne. I settle in…and idly rub my ear…
and grey dust comes out.
From the moth’s wings.
There is no amount of scrubbing in the world that will get rid of it.
I’m like Lady Freaking McBeth…out, out, damn moth dust.
So I get out of the bath, and I’m crying again and my mom gives me a sympathetic hug and says I’ll feel better once I go to bed.
I cannot sleep on my left side because every time I move my head on the pillow it sounds like the moth is in my ear.
And that is why I hate moths.
And also, why, in the middle of summer I carry earmuffs in my car.
You can never be too careful.