One night a few years ago I went down the front steps of my house, a trash bag in hand, my purpose to deposit it in the large bin where it’s collected every Wednesday morning. I was wearing sandals and walking along the sidewalk, only a few feet away from the bin.
I placed the trash bag in, and replaced the lid. Taking the short trek home, I noticed the beautiful full moon, and the lovely trees in full summer greenery; then, on the sidewalk on which I walked, I spotted something leap toward me.
My right foot, which only a moment before had lifted from the ground as I took a next step, came down on the dangling heel section of my sandal, and this little creature had timed it just right to end up between my heel and my sandal’s cushy material. It was too late for me to stop my foot from coming down and crushing the little bug to death, and that is what I did.
Crickets are sticky. Having a basement as I do, I have accidentally crushed a few, and I always have to rinse the stain of buggy guts with soap and water for a few long seconds before it washes clean. This last time I was not thinking of those past crickets, or those sticky messes.
I was thinking, What if that had been a small man? What if I lived in a world where shrunken men were driven mad by the vision of passing sandaled feet, and developed super jumping powers (or a rudimentary catapult, I don’t care) in order to reach their desired pedal destination?
Or maybe it wouldn’t be some amok passion that happens at the sight of feet, but a coming-of-age trial, a test of manhood, or something as simple as a mode of transportation… the same way sand worms were used in Dune to hitch a ride from place to place. But if a shrunken man were to ever catch my toe with one of ’em hooks, trouble would be afoot. Really.
As I returned home, limping so as to avoid resting my sticky heel on my sandal, I thought of what it would be like to carefully pull off my sandal, to lift it to my eyes just to see not a bug, but a tiny smear that used to be perfectly masculine, little arms and legs, a bloody stain that used to be a thinking head… and I felt that silly sadness that permeates a child’s heart when she imagines a loved one’s funeral. Fleeting, surreal, but still there, if only for a moment. Something powerful, this imagination.
In my bathroom, as I rinsed away the cricket’s remains, I thought of all the bugs I had killed with my feet before, and imagined how the very thought is one that gives pleasure to some people in this community. I don’t share this enjoyment, but from my perspective I see how it works. There’s a transformation that takes place with the extraordinary growth, “real” or relative, of a woman, that makes her into a force of nature.
There’s something about the destruction of small things, something that must be imprinted since the very first time the creature that would become homo sapiens crushed living things on the ground callousing her feet that translates into irrelevance. Sure, from the “insignificant” perspective of a 5-6′ tall human, a colossal, 8-mile-tall woman that roams the earth with naught a care for what she kills is an insane murderer that should be stopped, terminated… but to her, things are not the same. She isn’t mad or destructive in the same manner that you aren’t mad or destructive when you walk on an ant hill as you take your dog for a walk.
If that ant hill protested in a way that I could understand, things would be different, but when I imagine myself miles and miles tall, I don’t hear these cries of horror. I only envision that he can see me coming, and take delight in thinking of all that he feels, the way he melts when he witnesses the force of my nature flatten everything but him.
It’s not always comfortable to realize I’m explaining impossibilities to myself as realities, but whatever discomfort doesn’t take away from the mental deliciousness. I don’t enjoy destruction, unless I’m in the mood for it.
Most of the time as a giantess I’m happy to live and let the little ones live. I can’t count the times my mind’s eye has looked down the streets of a crowded city, watched those tiny shapes squirm on sidewalks, carefully deposited one giant foot after the other on pavement and not flesh, winced at the feel of fragile metal crunch to the swing of a swerving toe, automobile drivers honking and shaking their infinitesimal fists in my direction as I apologize and exchange insurance information, my rates growing almost as quickly as I do.
I recognize that feeling. I felt a very similar way once when as a child, I lived in a city that was invaded by crickets one year. No, I don’t mean there were dozens of crickets in the basement. No, there were not hundreds of them. There were hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions.
They covered the streets and sidewalks and walls, they piled up so high after they hatched. My father took my siblings and I out for a car ride, the windows closed all the way up, and they still got in through the vents. It was exciting to have such tiny visitors in the car, but I felt sorry for their fate as the tires of my dad’s car made a nice paste of their bodies. The cricket invasion never took place again, but I always hoped and waited for it anyway.
That’s all for now, folks.