Speaking of Nature: Columnist finds seed bug in his pudding

  • This is a western conifer seed bug. Many find them in their homes in late fall. For The Recorder/Bill Danielson

  • Here a seed bug clambers around on a patch of thistle down. For The Recorder/Bill Danielson

  • Bill Danielson

For The Recorder
Sunday, November 05, 2017

Today, I share with you a story from my own life. It’s not a happy story, nor is it one of those events in my life that I look back on with tremendous pride. But, it is a good story.

It is a story so good that it has been remembered over the years, and told on special occasions to the amusement of all that hear it. Since last week saw the annual observance of Halloween, and since yesterday was my wife’s birthday, I thought I would share my story with the world. Sweetheart, this one’s for you.

My beautiful wife, Susan, is a hypochondriac. If she reads about some new disorder in the news she will invariably develop a severe case of it by dinnertime. If she experiences a slight muscle ache the day after going on a hike, she will almost certainly diagnose herself with a rare case of “wet bone.” I don’t know if “femoral neuralgia” is real, but she’s had it six times.

One of the most charming presentations of her hypochondria takes the form of a very calm Susan holding two fingers to the side of her throat while her eyes are closed and her lips are very faintly moving as she counts her heartbeats.

I ask, “heart attack?” and she responds, “Yes!” Then I ask, “how many does that make?” and she responds something like, “third one today!” Susan is a survivor.

I’m happy to say that Susan’s rate of heart attacks has dropped precipitously over the years, but when we were first married, she suffered myocardial infarctions on a weekly basis. During particularly severe episodes, she would often beg me to get her some aspirin as quickly as possible in the hopes that thinning her blood would save her life. More often than not, I would do this with only the slightest chuckle.

One evening Susan had an attack, but I noticed that her fingers were not on her throat. She begged me for aspirin, and I decided to fetch some for her. This particular episode seemed a bit off, but who am I to judge a person in crisis? Well, I should have listened to my inner self, for as I started up the stairs, I heard my beautiful wife call out, in a faint voice, “And bring the big pudding.”

Susan is also a chocoholic. The day before this particular heart attack she had decided to make chocolate pudding. This was the instant pudding that only requires the addition of milk, some stirring, and a vessel of some sort in which to set it in. Susan had used an eclectic mix of the small glasses that can be used for orange juice in the morning — scotch in the evening. The “big” pudding was simply whichever one was the largest that remained.

As soon as I heard Susan ask for the big pudding, I knew I had been duped. She had preyed upon my care and concern for her mental wellbeing in an attempt to get me to retrieve pudding. And it worked. What deviousness! What manipulation! What madness! Whatever. Pudding sounded pretty good to me, too, at that moment.

I opened the fridge and grabbed the two largest puddings remaining, and headed back downstairs to the TV room and put on my best scowl. But, the smile on Susan’s face melted my resolve and she giggled when she realized that I realized what she had done. With a sniff of faux derision I ate a spoon full of pudding. Pretty good.

The second bite was not so good. As my tongue pushed toward the roof of my mouth, I discovered that there was something other than pudding in the pudding. It was hard and certainly didn’t belong there.

I swallowed, keeping the foreign object pressed against the roof of my mouth, then I removed it. To my horror, I was able to identify it as a dead western conifer seed bug. This species may be familiar to you as a home invader at this time of year.

In some sort of pudding-induced trance, Susan had taken the glasses out of the cabinet and started pouring the pudding without looking into the them. Thus, the dead insect was accidentally entombed in the delicious chocolaty treat that would eventually, and tragically, find its way to my mouth.

The only bright side of this story is that I was the one who “ate” the bug. Try to imagine the disorders that Susan would have developed had her hypochondria collided with the real world in such fashion?