It's story time again and the topic isn't really anymore pleasant than fire. So many of you faithful readers have no experience with the thing I'm going to discuss--demonstrated by your confused looks and use of the phrase "A what?" I feel compelled to enlighten you. Or I should say, I feel compelled to make you all share my dread. Plus, these stories are pretty good (though maybe not as good as the spider babies, you be the judge).
The subject of today's stories is camel hoppers. Technically they are camel crickets, but they were called camel hoppers in Alabama, where I was first exposed. And so their name has continued. Let's take a look:
(Words cannot express how horrifying it was to have a whole page of those pictures on Google. Augh.)
Here are a few facts you should know about hoppers. First off, I love grasshoppers. They are charming! Camel hoppers are like horrible, mutated grasshoppers that were experimented on by a shady government organization. Their weird hunched backs remind me of aliens (partly because of a dream). They jump crazy high and really spastically--you never know which way they're going! They get really big. They're ugly and foul. Also, they're tough to kill because they've got steroid-enhanced exoskeletons. Now, let us continue.
I've had several duels with hoppers. I'm not really good at killing bugs, I will admit. I often use shoes and I jump around a lot, but I'll do it. But hoppers are hard because of all those reasons I mentioned, mainly the jumping. Here are two of my battles:
The time: Several summers ago. The place: the hallway outside my room. It's mid-morning. I start walking down the hall. There's a hopper, just chilling there on the floor. I confess I hollered for my Mom but she was in the shower. What was I supposed to do? Well, I got my Mom's math book* that was handy. And I threw it at the hopper. I missed. I got it again. This process continued until I finally landed that book smack on top of that thing. But I knew its crazy exoskeleton had protected it and I had to do something else. So I stood on that book. For a while. My Mom wasn't really impressed with my tactics, but that may be because I let her clean it up.
The time: two summers ago. The place: the hallway between the laundry room and the garage door. I was going to go to Girls' Camp in a few weeks and I had a case of water bottles sitting near the garage door for that occasion. Around this time I did some laundry and I saw a real beast of a hopper skulking around the freezer, but I just hurried out and forgot about him. The morning I was supposed to leave, he came back, as big as ever and I had to do something about him. So I picked up that case of bottled water and dropped it on him (I had to get a lot closer...cases of water bottles don't throw as well as books). I'll admit it was kind of satisfying. Unfortunately I had to take the case with me, so not long after my victory I had to pick it up and scrape the corpse off the bottom. And yes, I left it for my Dad to clean up. It's how I roll.
Are you starting to feel like you have bugs crawling all over you yet? Well, this next story is my best AKA my worst. Is it the root of all my fears? Pretty much. This is the story of my stalker hopper.
The time: mid-1990's, bedtime. The place: my room downstairs in Missouri. I was lying in bed, all cozy. The door was open and the hall light was on. I looked over. There was a hopper in the middle of my floor. I knew it would crawl all over me in my sleep so of course I got out of bed and crept upstairs to my sister's room to sleep on her floor. Problem solved!
Except when I woke up in the early hours of the morning I saw that hopper. Sitting on my pillow. Looking at me. I got in my sister's bed and my groupie was gone by the time real morning came.
Later that day I was sitting on the floor in my sister's room. I looked over and saw that hopper. On my shoulder. Looking at me. What followed was a lot of screaming and jumping and shuddering and more screaming. We killed that thing, for the most part, with a binder and dumped its still-twitching body out the window.
And that, my friends, is a faithful narrative of all my dealings with camel hoppers. Or some of them anyway.
*I know it's cruel to use a book like this. But it's a math book so it's okay.