The smell surprised me. Like flowers—not roses, but marigolds. Not something you’d want to bottle, but something you don’t mind spending time with. Which was good, since the owner of the smell was crawling across my lips. It took timid, tickling steps, feeling ahead before advancing. I paid attention for a long time, since the dream I’d been in hadn’t left me and it took me a few seconds to come to grips with this new sensation. Luckily, blessedly, something kept my mouth shut and I didn’t let out a scream when I realized that a bug had found its way down to my bed where it was attempting, it appears, to snuggle me. I didn’t scream, and both the bug and I are very pleased with that turn of events. Andrew Zimmerman can eat whatever nasty thing he wants: I prefer my meat pre-packaged, resembling nothing at all that I would find outside. Or, apparently, inside.
I whisked the bug off, throwing it onto the floor. And then I turned on the light and proceeded to smash it. Or try to smash it. Being on top of carpet, it didn’t get smashed, although it did lose a leg or two. So, I picked it up in a tissue, flushed it down the toilet, and then spent an hour trying not to imagine what would have happened if I had yawned while it was crawling on me. I washed my lips, my hands, my face, my arms (just in case) and hallucinated that the scent was still all over me. All over my bed. I began to itch. I felt things brush against my ears, my nose, my cheek. When I would be on the brink of falling asleep again, a mental picture would form: bug crawling inside mouth. And my body would do that involuntary jerking thing and there I’d be, fully awake again.
Mind you, I hadn’t been scared while the crawling occurred. It wasn’t a dangerous critter, just overly friendly (sort of like rural Texas). I knew before seeing it exactly what it was, having decided earlier in the day to let it stay inside. I occasionally do things like that. It wasn’t a spider, so my kids wouldn’t panic. It wasn’t a cockroach, so we didn’t have to sell the house and move to Alaska. I’d seen the sort of bug before on my plants outside and it seemed rather docile. It had spent all day trying to move from the middle of the wall to the corner. And, since it was far away, and slow, and looked like it needed refuge, I let it stay. “Manana,” I thought. “Tomorrow I’ll take it back outside to be bait for the birds.”
Now you don’t want to come to my house I bet. You think we’re infested with lifeforms which will overpower you in your sleep and breed in your orifices and cause new medical terms to be created. Mostly, that isn’t true. Mostly I can almost positively guarantee that it won’t happen. But if it does, wouldn’t it be fun to have a new syndrome named after you?