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The Contemplative Life

There is a small dark thing in the bathtub this morning. I noticed it out of the corner of my eye as I was in there otherwise engaged. I think: "Damn. There's a bug in the bathtub."

I prepare myself to kill it. I'm not exactly a Buddhist or anything, but I do hate killing things, even bugs. Still, I hate bugs hanging around, um, well, bugging me. So I gather a small wad of toilet paper in my hand and prepare to squish the thing.

Upon approach, I discover the bug is one of those small, mothy things. Not a fly. Not an ugly crawly thing. Just a little mothy thing. I throw the wad of toilet paper away. It seems I am prepared to live with little mothy things.

This has to be an issue of brain-wiring. I think I have hidden in my brain something like those books of ship and aircraft silhouettes, prepared for the purpose of distinguishing friend from foe. Silhouettes of little mothy things: okay. Silhouettes of ugly little crawly things: kill the son-of-a-bitch.

I am now trying to decide whether I should rescue the little mothy thing from the bathtub before I take my shower. If I don't, it will surely perish in the deluge. If I do, what the hell am I supposed to do with it? Find a nice wall for it? With luck, my cat will find it soon and eat it. I guess I don't mind all that much having the thing killed, so long as I am not the one who has to do the killing.

Um. I get the feeling that with a little bit of effort, I could turn this post into some sort of parable, or analogy, or metaphor. I'm sure there is some sort of simple but profound moral lesson to be found in all this, if only I could get the thing organized. But it's Friday morning, the weekend is nearly here, and as I write this, my morning schedule is falling apart.

Sometimes you have to go for the literary value of the moment. Sometimes you have to get showered for work. And sometimes the cat eats the little mothy thing before you can get to it.

Today I will live my life as if the cat has eaten the mothy thing.

Amen. So be it.


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I have a different instinct with little mothy things, which I believe has developed over years of shopping and fashion worshipy-goodness (I tried to hammer that quality out of myself through years of education, and it worked for a while, but on my 35th birthday I developed a mid-life crisis, and began to shop...I haven't stopped yet, but that's another story).

Anyway, my thought when I see the silhouette of a little mothy thing is, "That little f***er better not get into my closet!"

I'm not sure how that fits into the parable, but, oh well. I'd have killed the little yicky bastard. :)

"That little f***er better not get into my closet!"

It actually occurred to me that mothy things might be a problem for some people. For my part, I've always been astonished when somebody points out to me that the hole in the sweater I just put on was caused by a moth. See, I never really believed in moths. I just thought holes appeared from wear & tear. I thought moths eating holes in clothing was something you only saw in cartoons. But, no. It's true. They make holes.

But I like the holes more than I like the sweaters. They astonish me more. I don't expect others, especially clothes horses, to agree with me.

Maybe later today I will write the Parable of the Hole and the Sweater.

See, I never really believed in moths.

I love this statement. The other day at dinner I told Rockgod, "I don't believe in transfats."

I don't mind the holes in some of my sweaters. My problem is how to get the moth to be selective. I might actually like a few holes in the big giant grey wool fisherman's sweater I like to wear while drinking tea and reading mysteries. But the melon cashmere sweater set? My stomach hitches at the thought.

It's okay that you don't agree. My overly emotional attachment to thread and shoe is not one of my better, more admirable traits. It's just sort of something I've given up trying to overcome...

Hmm. The lesson I have tended to draw from people's variable willingness to kill particular bugs isn't so much moral as aesthetic, and not very flattering to us apes. Which is to say, a lot of it is, as you say, visual, and was summed up in an old boyfriend's response to Jerusalem crickets: "Kill that thing, it's UGLY!"

As for little mothy things, well, I'm pretty happy to kill them on sight. The very small ones are often flour moths, what get into flour and corn meal and dry pet food and such and really, one experience of finding my flour rendered unusable by being filled with little crawly yellow grubs and their abandoned webs and pupae and carapaces would have been plenty to turn me off of them. And I've had them more than once. Yich.

Clearly, life on the high seas with Captain Aubrey was never really for me.

Ah. Flour moths. It didn't occur to me to wonder how the little buggers spent their day, eating flour and stuff.

Even so, as a celiac I have no flour in the house anyway so I guess I'm engaging in a sort of inadvertent entomologic cleansing just by being who I am. I feel another parable coming on.

And now that you mention it, yes, I think you would do well to avoid not only the lesser but also the greater of two weevils.

Hear no weevil, see no weevil, that's me.

And I hadn't thought about the ways that celiac disease would impact your relationship to flour moths, but I suspect they will be just as happy to invade any rice or corn meal you have handy...

I suspect they will be just as happy to invade any rice or corn meal you have handy...

Probably. But this being New York City, I try to keep all my dry goods in sealed containers. I do occasionally find some wise-acres partying down in the long-grain rice. I always thought they came with the merchandise but I suppose they could be part of a moth military strike force.

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