I spent my childhood as a city girl in Dallas and moved to Claremore as a young adult. After spending many years working at Pixley Lumber and on the campus of what was then Rogers State College, I moved to Tulsa. The past six months have been quite a culture shock, as my husband and I relocated to a farm in Collinsville. While this doesn’t actually qualify as an “Adventure on Windy Hill Farm”, it did occur on the way to Windy Hill Farm.
I was driving home from work the other evening when I realized I was not alone in the car. (Cue the spooky music.) In the far passenger side corner of the windshield sat a large cricket. Crickets don’t really bother me, as long as they keep their distance, which is probably the same way crickets feel about me. So, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have a stowaway on my journey home. No problem…until I realized from a longer look that the cricket was indeed a grasshopper. (Now, cue the music from the shower scene in” Psycho”. A creepy, weird eyed, green bug juice filled, sticky legged, grasshopper IN MY CAR. I tried to be brave but then relented, reached across my car and gingerly turned down the sun visor. Hopefully, he’d stay behind the visor and I could practice my husband’s approach to many awkward situations, “Out of sight. Out of mind.” Apparently, the grasshopper did not like not being able to keep his weird grasshopper eyes on me and slowly crept out from behind the sun visor. Since I was stopped at a red light, I took the opportunity to get out my cell phone and snap a quick photo of him for prosperity. “See who rode home with me?” I’d say to my husband. I continued to try and be brave.
For some quick reassurance, I thought I’d call my friend Lois. She has the same phobia of grasshoppers that I do and it would be nice to talk with someone who totally understood my fear. As a member of the unholy sisterhood of grasshopper-phobics, she could cheer me on as I sped down the expressway. She answered on the first ring and her response was shocking.
“Whaaaaaaat? He’s in your car? What are you going to dooooo?” she howled. So much for the vote of confidence she was to have cast. I could hear the astonishment in her voice. At this point, I was overcome with hysterical laughter and unreasonable fear. This fear may have seemed unreasonable to others but not to Lois and I. All of these emotions were punctuated by a regret for not having gone to visit the ladies room just before leaving the office. Those of you with long commutes know exactly what I’m talking about! I was no longer able to breathe, tears were sliding out of my eyes, I was about to wet myself and THERE WAS A GRASSHOPPER IN MY CAR!!.
“ I don’t know!” I howled back. “It’s looking at me!”
“Is it flexing its legs like it’s about to hop?”
“It’s just looking at me and wiggling its antennae!”
“Oh, my God. It’s going to get in your hair!”
My fear had become so primal that I’m pretty sure I shrieked something in an ancient language not heard by modern man. This was followed by “If I crash my car you’re going to have to tell them what really happened!”
“You’ve got to pull over!”
“It’s going to get in my hair!” Except I was now pronouncing the word hair as hay-er as I reverted back to the language of my childhood in Texas.
“You have to pull over!”
“He wants to get in my hay-er!” Funny, in my high speed hysteria, I was now able to read the mind of an insect.
“Alicia. Get a grip. You’re not going to crash. You’ve got to pull over.
Again, I babbled in that ancient language of fright.
My mind flashed forward to a single car crash scene. Flashing lights from emergency vehicles casting their jerking splashes of red and blue lights. In the center of it all was me being rescued from a smashed up car. When did it get dark? In my nightmare, I could see the paramedics recoil once they realized I had wet my pants and the trooper turn his face from me once he learned all this chaos had been caused by my girlie fear of a certain multi-legged creature. “But it was a grasshopper!” I heard my bleeding victim self whimper from a moving gurney. “A GRASSHOPPER!” The trooper’s Smokey Bear hat just shakes back and forth as he files away another story of how stupid civilians can be to tell at the next trooper get together. Oh! The embarrassment!
Meanwhile, back in reality. In the few seconds it took for this odd little scene to play out in my mind, the grasshopper has crept up to the rearview mirror. I realize my friend is right. I am going to have to pull over.
“I’ve got to pull over.” I squeak out through my fear constricted vocal cords. “I’m going to hang up now but I’ll call you back”.
“What are you going to dooooo?” she’s now sounding a little hysterical herself.
“I’m going to open up all the windows and try to get him to hop out.”
“What if he won’t leave?”
“I can’t breathe!”
“What if he won’t leave?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just walk home.”
“How will you know if he gets out?”
“I’ll never know so I’ll just leave my car here. They’ll probably put one of those red stickers on it and have it towed away”. Funny how in my hysterical state, I still knew the rules of the road. You abandon your car on the side of the road and if it stays there more than three days, the troopers put a red sticker on the glass and a wrecker comes to tow it away to a storage yard.
“Are you on the side of the road yet?
“I can’t breathe! I’ll call you when it’s over.”
As I rang off, I swear I heard her warn me again about not letting him get in my hay-er. I pulled off the expressway onto the shoulder, off the shoulder and onto the grassy shoulder. The traffic whizzed past to my left at alarming speeds. I sat in the driver’s seat and he sat on the top of the rearview mirror. The Grasshopper and I looked at each other right in the face. His weird grasshopper eyes gazing unblinkingly into mine. Do grasshoppers even have eyelids? (Cue the music from ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.) Very slowly, so as not to spook him, I reached up to press the button which would open the sunroof and eventually lead him to freedom. Sadly, in their misguided struggle for making all the bells and whistles on their vehicles more conveniently accessible to their drivers, the designers at Ford placed the sunroof open and close switches just above the rearview mirror. At any other moment in my life this would not have mattered. Now it mattered a great deal. The grasshopper watched as I brought my hand up to activate the switch. His antennae twitching as he gazed at the tender spot on the inside of my wrist. I depressed the button and the sunroof began to open at speed a bit slower than continental drift. My unprotected wrist just within spitting distance of the grasshopper. I knew I couldn’t stay parked long on the grassy shoulder as the heat from my engine would start a grassfire and then I’d really cause problems for my fellow commuters.
Again, in my mind, the emergency lights flashed crazily into the scorched earth night and the firemen were asking me to again tell them how I thought the fire began. Fortunately, in this nightmare, I hadn’t wet my pants. Although, maybe that would have stopped the fire from spreading. STOP IT!!
The grasshopper and I are looking at one another, the sunroof is open then I roll down each window of the car via the buttons on the tiny mission control pad of my arm rest. Passenger window down? Check. Rear passenger window down? Check. Rear driver’s side window down? Check. Driver’s window down? Check. I begin my prayer, “Please, dear Lord, let the grasshopper go out the sunroof and not try for the Driver’s window so near my hay-er.” Yes, God speaks Texan.
I carefully reached over and picked up an unsuspecting library book from the passenger seat and took a quick whack upwards towards the open sunroof. After a satisfying whack that sent the grasshopper soaring into the stratosphere I rolled up the windows made a speedy merge back into the traffic towards the skunk infested wilds of Windy Hill Farm.