Bugs are really hot this summer
I felt I should say something about the U.S. Senate's recent defeat of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, but it's so unfunny and this kind of subject always gets me into trouble. And besides, there are more amusing things to write about, like the flying cockroach the size of a surfboard that landed on my forehead while I was reading in the bed the other night. And the termites! They are swarming this summer in an extraordinarily Alfred Hitchcockian way.
But let's get the flag-burning thing out of the way first. Look: If Hawaii's most famous decorated war veteran, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, says we don't need a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, I'm with him. I've never fought for the American flag. He did. In a big, nasty war. And even lost an arm doing it. Naturally, it offends Inouye when the American flag is burned, but he thinks it's more important not to limit free speech, even if that free speech involves putting a Zippo lighter to the Stars and Stripes. If I lost an arm fighting for the flag, I doubt I'd be as understanding. But I'm in awe of his ability to maintain perspective.
I have one more reason for not making flag burning unconstitutional: The people who usually burn American flags are idiots. If we keep idiots from doing idiotic things, it will be harder to spot them in public. Personally, I like to know who the idiots are. Burning the American flag says more about the idiots doing it than whatever sappy point they're trying to make. Luckily, the republic still has more flags than idiots.
Now, how about those bugs! Man, we might not have the flooding and wildfires they are having on the mainland, but we've got the creepy-crawlies. It's like the summer of 2006 is sponsored by Stephen King.
It's during the long, hot nights that the termites and B-52 cockroaches come out to play. As I said, I was reading in bed by lamplight the other night when a big boy swooped in for a perfect six-point landing on my forehead. One thing you never really think about cockroaches is how much they weigh. Until they are sitting on you. They are heavy buggers. They've got mass. And their feet are pokey. I smacked him away, let my heart settle down to about 400 beats a minute and then went after him with my air pistol. I have his head mounted on the wall next to the moose. They could have been brothers.
The hot Hawaiian nights also bring out termites that swarm in a fit of, I believe, sexual frenzy. I think they come out at this time to find a mate, make termite hoochie-koochie and then sneak off behind the house for a cigarette. My entomologist credentials are questionable, so don't put any money on that analysis.
No matter why they decide to suddenly flee from their burrows en masse at this time, they are certainly doing a swell job of it. I saw a swarm converge on my neighbor's driveway light and, let me tell you, they were open for business.
Quite a few, also attracted by lights, find their way through the screens into the house. The house geckos launch a counterattack, not to mention a window attack, cupboard attack and kitchen table attack. They eat so many termites you can see the insects writhing in the geckos' stomachs. It's creepy in a way would cause Sigourney Weaver's character Ripley in "Alien" to say, "Bravo!"
The geckos make a heroic effort to ingest all of the incoming termites, but the numbers are staggering. What would you do if a UPS truck backed up to your living room and dumped in 4,000 cheeseburgers? (Vegetarians, please substitute "tofu burgers" in preceding sentence.)
Thankfully, centipedes have been thin on the ground this summer. I found one dead in the garage, and he was hardly longer than a standard yard rake.
We've also seen only five or six types of ants attempt house invasions: big black ones, regular black ones, small black ones, tinier black ones and infinitesimal black ones. It's been a dry summer and they all seem parched. Some have even gathered around Boomer's water bowl like wildebeests at a Serengeti pond. Outside, just to add comic relief, large red "crazy ants" careen around in their trademark crazy way. What can you say about ants that haven't mastered the most basic of ant skills, walking in line?
So flag burning might be a sexy topic, but how can anyone spend the summer worrying about that when their house is under siege by platoons of insect insurgents?
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org