Many moons ago, Jeff, the kids and I lived in California. My daughters, Kristina and Stacy, were with me in the living room when Jeff came in the front door, with an impish look on his face, holding something in his hand. He went straight to the kitchen, got a bowl out of the cupboard and said, “Come here. You gotta look at this.”
Stupidly, we gathered near while he shook something out of a cigarette wrapper into the bowl. We heard a clinking sound, as if a marble had fallen into it. Without yet truly realizing why, the three of us instinctively knew that it was time to scream like girls and run as fast as we could.
Following close behind us, an erstwhile Freddie Krueger, Jeff cajoled us, “No, wait. You gotta see this. I’ve never seen anything like this before!” We continued screaming and running until we had reached the last room in the house, my bathroom, where we locked the door and made like banshees. We shuddered and shrieked and brushed imaginary cooties off of us until our skin was raw, and told him to get the hell away from us. Ever the boy, he stood outside the door, saying, “No, really, you gotta come see this thing. I have no idea what it could be.”
After an extremely long time, he finally realized that we weren’t coming out. He took the thing back outside and we slowly and nervously went back to everyday life, not having any idea what that thing was, but knowing that we NEVER wanted to lay eyes on another one.
However, over the years as the internet has developed, I’ve tried searching for a picture of it, because I just have to know what in Lucifer’s fresh hell we had seen. What made it difficult is that I only had the briefest of glimpses at it before I fled, and I had no idea how to even begin searching something for which I had no keywords. Finally, today, I found it by Googling “scary California grasshopper.” And here, ladies and gentlemen, is quite possibly the creepiest bug in existence: