The post in which I talk about grasshoppers and ice cream and love

Last night, while mulling over the challenge Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch issued this week (write a story about love in 99 words), I decided to grab the pup and go for a drive through the country.

Okay, okay, so I really decided to go get some ice cream, but take a drive through the country sets the romantic stage better. Unfortunately, the country didn’t get the memo about setting the romantic stage setting either.

Before we get into all the fun, I should explain that the ice cream place is a 30-minute drive from me. It was already dark, meaning the pup wouldn’t be able to see the cows in the field, so I assumed that the trip would be more or less uneventful.

Yes, I know the saying about assumptions.

Everything started out normal. I said the magic words (“Wanna go for a ride?”) and the pup raced to his co-pilot seat. When I tried to hook him into his seatbelt, I realized he had stickers on his collar from running through the woods, so I pulled them off and rolled down the window to toss them outside.

That’s when everything started going downhill. Although the dash in my car doesn’t put off much light, apparently in the country, where there are no competing light sources, it’s like a neon sign saying “All Bugs Welcome!” We were assaulted by every manner of flying multi-legged creature known to man. The pup was having a grand time snapping at them and trying to catch these new-fangled toys. I was desperate to block out the image of hundreds of flying critters getting tangled in my hair.

Just as I got the window rolled back up, we both heard a loud thump on the windshield. It sounded as if a bird had flown into the window, but it was late and I knew all the birds were snuggled in their nests. The pup and I exchanged wary looks, then I scrambled to get him hooked in and get the car in motion.

Mind you, all of this took place about five feet from my front door. I am a master of scaring the bejesus out of myself at my own house.

Two miles of gravel road later, and I still felt like the energy was off in the car. Granted, this might have been from my very off-key rendition of Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination,” but even when the dog’s whiney howl convinced me to stop serenading him, I still felt like something was just off.

After we turned onto the two-lane highway, I noticed lights coming over the hill in my rearview mirror. This highway is usually pretty empty, and people have a tendency to accept the posted speed limits as suggestions only, so I checked a few times to monitor just how fast the car behind me was going.

It was the third glance to the rearview mirror when all of my Spidey senses started screaming at me. But the car wasn’t catching up to me, so what had the hair on the back of my neck standing at full attention?

And then I saw them: two perfectly bent grasshopper legs, perched atop my steering wheel. I couldn’t see the rest of his body in the darkness, but based on the height of his legs, the grasshopper had to be seventeen feet long. I wanted to scream. I wanted to jump up and down and run away—not because I am afraid of grasshoppers, but because the only images that were flashing through my mind at that moment were of grasshopper legs tangled in my hair, which led me to imagine feeling him trapped there, trying to jump or fly away only to repeatedly bash himself against my neck.

But I couldn’t react at all. I was driving nearly two tons down the highway with a pup who thought that pouncing on bugs was good old wholesome fun. Although the pup was strapped in for safety, he could still reach the steering wheel, and with 70 pounds of pure muscle backing up his pounces, we’d be ditch-bound before I could stop him. I had to stay calm and pray that the pup wouldn’t notice the intruder until I could find a spot to pull off the highway.

That spot was nearly a mile down the road. For what couldn’t have been more than 45 seconds (although it felt like 45 minutes), I had to pretend that everything was normal while my brain was coming up with increasingly terrifying scenarios of what this grasshopper was planning to do. The worst thought was that he would jump and, using some magic power, land in my mouth. That’s the thought that sent me swerving off the highway and (finally!) onto the country road, where I shuddered the car to a stop right in the middle of the gravel. I turned on the interior lights and braced myself to meet Godzilla’s distant cousin.

Except the grasshopper was gone.

Before I could figure out where he’d meandered off to, the car that had been behind me on the highway turned off onto the country road as well. The road that I was completely blocking. Without thinking, I cranked the wheel to pull over to the shoulder. As I did, Mr. Hopper came back into view and started crawling over my hand.

I screamed. The dog barked. The passing car slowed. The man-eating grasshopper rubbed its front hands together in the classic evil-villain-deciding-how-best-to-torture-its-victims way. I scrambled out of the car. The dog lunged at the grasshopper. The intruder jumped at the dog. The dog cowered in his seat. Yes, cowered.

I almost laughed, but then I realized that the car door was open, all the interior lights were on, and bugs from three counties over were making a beeline for the light. I managed to convince the grasshopper that he would be happier out in the field of corn than in my car, and two minutes later the pup and I were back on the highway, headed for ice cream while sing-howling “Pure Imagination.” I can’t even imagine what that car full of people thought I was doing.

What does all of this have to do with a love story? Absolutely nothing, but I thought you might get a kick out of it. Plus now I don’t have to explain why I am not leaving my house again until the first blizzard.

A Country Love Story

I held up his ice cream. The pup sniffed it before sticking out his tongue for a lick. His tail wagged. He eyed me while his tongue darted out again.

When his head started shaking, I pulled the cup away, almost expecting his teeth to be chattering. He sat, adopting his polite “I’m waiting for you” pose. He didn’t seem to mind the brain freeze.

I held the cup out again. This time, he skipped the licking, instead gulping down the soft-serve in three bites.

He licked the cup clean, then noticed my dessert. His eyes were my Kryptonite.

I knew I wanted to focus on puppy love in some way this week because two friends have had to say goodbye to furries in the past few days. Riding home from the ice cream place, I didn’t bother with the radio (or singing off tune). The puppy snores were the perfect accompaniment, and all the stars in the heavens came out to hear them.

Comments

  • I’m laughing so hard! It’s a country girl’s problem this time of year, early darkness and no frost yet to have killed off the killer insects. I hate turning on the porch light for the same reason. My husband thinks it’s a vanity thing when I’m screaming at some junebug/grasshopper/moth/beetle, “Not the hair! Not the hair!” It’s more like I can’t stand the thought of creatures entangled in close proximity to my face. Thanks for the hoot! Great flash fiction, too! I know that Kryptonite look well — I have two who know how to melt my defenses!

    Charli MillsSeptember 22, 2015
    • Unfortunately, later last night, I did in fact have a fly get trapped in my hair. If I could have found the scissors, I would be bald today. ::shudder::

      C. JaiSeptember 22, 2015
  • September 22, 2015

    […] A Country Love Story by C. Jai Ferry […]

  • I love the whole lead up to the story!

    Little Miss and Grama (me) found a wounded Monarch butterfly on our walk – I didn’t want anyone else to step on it. So I scooped it up and took it back to my front porch. Where Little Miss and I sat down in the sun. I opened my hand so the butterfly could walk on my grand-daughters open palms. After a few moments it seemed to have enough sun flapped its’ wings and flew off….

    Gotta love happy endings. Cheers. Thanks for visiting me at the Carrot Ranch.

    JulesSeptember 24, 2015
    • I love butterflies! Such dainty beings, yet so strong and powerful. I was just working on a story today in which butterflies came into play.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      C. JaiSeptember 24, 2015

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