Growing up there were several stories in my family that surfaced over and over again that made my skin crawl.  They gave me the hebejebes.  When these stories were told horror movie music would spring to life in my head.  You know, the type of music where you know something bad is soon to happen - death is but a sudden make-you-jump scream away.  Now whether they were 100% true, a mix of fact and fiction, or a version of the game telephone where, after being told numerous times, they take on a skewed version of truth, I'm not sure.  The only thing I was sure about was the creepy hang-on-my-spirit aftermath they left in my kid sized mind and heart.

My dad told a story about when he was in the army stationed in Fort Ord, California in the late 1950's.  Outside the mess tent entrance hung a light (picture MASH and those curved lights).  Like happens in most warm climates with insects and lights, the bugs were drawn to the light above the entrance to the mess tent.  According to my dad's story, a solider walking to dinner was talking with a comrade when, upon close proximity to the mess tent, a huge June beetle flew in his mouth and lodged in throat.  My father says that soldier choked to death from a blocked airway.  No one was able to dislodge the huge beetle with tentacle like legs that affixed itself inside his throat.

From henceforth, whenever I went outside in the summer June bug months, I tried to keep my mouth closed.  It was hard to do since I had quite the overbite in my pre-braces years.  I was fearful that if it could happen to that soldier, then it could happen to me too.  I had a horrible fear of dying from suffocation of a June bug in my airway.  It was an irrational but palpable fear.

At 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning I went out on the front step to read the morning paper.  Laying on the porch on its back was a humongous dead June bug.  Immediately I could hear Alfred Hitchcock music and felt my throat tighten.  June bugs were in full season now!  Its size was a bit alarming but gave validity to the story my dad told.

It is said that Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to a mother who had lost three sons in battle.  He acknowledged the sacrifice she had made for her country.  I don't know what letter was sent, or what was said to the family of that young soldier who choked to death on a June bug.  They too probably never looked at a June bug the same either.  

War deaths I understand.  But human loss by a June bug, both disturbing and downright creepy!  Keep your mouth closed around outdoor lights at night.

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