I Messed Up Again
2:19 PM EDT on June 9, 2023
It's me, again, regretfully. I do not know what to tell you, except that I had thoroughly believed I had learned from my past mistakes. I had learned that to eat a bug offered to me inside my plastic cube, however large and fragrant that bug might be, was to court unknowable pain. I had supped on the most scrumptious-looking of black insects and crunch-crunched on the juicy shell of the mason wasp only to discover, quite abominably, that the accursed wasp had pricked me with his barbed penis. O wasp penis, O frog mouth!
I memorized the face and body of the mason wasp to ensure I would not make such a mistake again. I studied its thin stripes, the color of fresh butter. I observed the grooves in its translucent brown wings. I stared down the brutal head of its wasp penis, my eyes directed toward the two sharp barbs that had so rudely betrayed my tongue. I knew the face of this wasp better than my own, for I had never seen it.
I even learned to enjoy passing time in my plastic container. Such a domicile could never live up to the verdant paddy fields of Honshu, which extend yawningly into the horizon such that, on a clear day, they might appear to melt under the setting sun. But the container offered the appeals of modernity to which, against my express wishes, I had become accustomed. Plastic possesses a gaunt kind of beauty, not unlike a marbled tombstone or an iPad. When black wasps were offered to me, I refused them, handily. I would not be tricked again! When mealworms fell from the skies, I feasted.
But one day there was a new bug, a not-wasp. It looked—what else can I say?—delicious. It was a porterhouse steak of a bug, an oblong black abdomen interspersed with brown diamonds, with legs that surely promised a glistening crunch. Still, I was wary. Could this be a disguisèd wasp, concealing some kind of wickedness hell-bent on piercing my tongue? But as I watched the not-wasp waddle around out of the corner of my eye, I knew this could not be a wasp, for even the most elaborate disguise could not conceal brown wings and an abdomen like a horned bratwurst. I wondered, could this bug be a gift? A belated atonement for the cruelty of the wasp? My forgiveness cannot be purchased. But who am I to turn down such a succulent snack?
As I grasped the bug in my mouth, all felt right. Its antennae tickled my lips quite pleasantly, and I bit down a second time to savor the nutty, slick exoskeleton that would nourish me for days. I could not remember the last time I had supped on a meal this grand; mealworms, though filling, are peasant food, and I am no peasant. What sublime and alien flavors might this beetle hold? But my musings were severed most abruptly by an excruciating pain that lit my mouth afire, my tongue a tortured soul in Hell, my mind a thunderous storm of hurt when I had only ever known silence. There were no barbs, but instead a squirting of toxic chemicals more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The Juice Of Death!
Spit it out, spit it out! Tell me sir, do you keep the company of wasps, or of Beelzebub? O bombardier beetle, why have you come here to torment me so!
Whatever I did or said under the influence of the bedeviled beetle, I can no longer recall. I do not know how much time passed, or what happened to the bug I had evicted from my mouth (I wish them well).
As the world sharpened, the walls of my plastic cube once again revealing the sanitized world beyond, I pondered my error. Would I ever learn? Do I even wish to? I shudder to think of the alternative—resigned to a lifetime of mealworms and missing out on whatever ambrosia awaits under the shells of bigger, leggier bugs. Cannot a frog be a gourmand? As a famous chef once said: anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. I may not know what lies beyond my plastic cube, or if I will ever escape it. But I do know that to be a frog is to live, to dream, and to taste, without fear. Venomous barbs and scalding chemicals, come my way and I will greet you with an open heart and mouth; all will be worth it for just one taste of the beetle-bound nectar of the gods. Hark! Whoever stands beyond these walls, next course please!