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The Katydid Hunter

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 11:57 a.m. CDT

“I’m so excited to finally get you on the phone. I’ve been dying to meet you,” said a potential consulting client. “My son and I are obsessed with katydids.”

I was named after the katydid, a long insect that looks like the love child of a grasshopper and a mantis. Most people aren’t familiar with katydids, so anytime I meet someone who shares my affection for the bug, I’m over the moon.

“I approve of your obsession! How’d that happen?” I asked.

“My son had to find a katydid in the wild for a science project. We named him Harvey.”

“I love it!” I exclaimed, thinking this caller might just be my soul mate.

“We really fell in love with Harvey. Do you think I’m weird?”

“Of course not,” I said. And I meant it.

“I cried more when that bug died than I did when my dog died. Now you must think I’m weird.”

“Not at all,” I said. But I didn’t quite mean it.

“Probably even more than when my mom died...”

Uh-oh.

“...And I really loved my mom.”

Psycho alert. Psycho alert.

“We could tell Harvey was getting sick. We didn’t know what to feed him.”

“You should’ve let him back in the wild,” I said.

“Never!” yelled my potential client.

Whoa. Where’s the fire, angrypants?

“I loved him. Would you just throw something you love back into the wild?”

Uh, yeah.

“I guess not,” I said.

“I feel sorry for you,” she said. “You must not know real love.”

Right. That must be it.

“Yep. That must be it.”

“Harvey was brown with a bit of green. They come in both colors, you know.”

Don’t engage. You don’t want this person as a client anyway. Hang up the phone.

“We actually come in lots of colors,” I heard myself saying against my better judgment. “We come in bright pink and with yellow stripes and orange—”

“No, they don’t!”

Abort call. Abort! Abort!

“OK. Sorry. I guess I’m mistaken,” I said.

“So look, I really have to get going.”

Good girl. Now hang up the phone.

“Once Harvey died, we knew we could never be without. Our house needs a katydid.”

“What do you mean by you could never be without?” I couldn’t help asking.

It’s not my fault; I had to engage! When you’re named after a bug, you grow a sort of kinship to it. I identify with my totem insect, and if katydids are being harmed, I have to know about it. I have to fix it. I have to save them!

“My son and I take hikes in the woods, hunting katydids. They’re a North American treasure, you know.”

Hunting?

“But we can’t take the heartache of growing attached, only to have it die in a few months like Harvey did, so now we put them in a jar without air holes.”

I’d like to put you in a jar without air holes!

“This way, they’re dead in a few days, and we don’t get heartbroken.”

It’s not worth it. She’s crazy. Don’t engage!

“How often do you hunt katydids?” The words were sprinting out of my mouth.

“At least every weekend,” she said, “and most Wednesdays.”

“What?!” I screamed. “Murderer! You’re committing katydid genocide!”

No, no, no. Shut up. Stop talking.

“I am not a murderer. We love katydids.”

“You don’t love katydids. If you loved them, you’d let them stay in their natural habitat,” I yelled, “which, by the way, includes every continent except for Antarctica. They are not even close to a North American treasure!”

My co-workers stopped what they were doing to stare at me yelling into the phone. But I wasn’t stopping. Not on your life!

“And I was not mistaken; we do come in hot pink. And stripes. And spikes. And some look more like leaves. And some look more like twigs. And before you go around killing off my people, perhaps you could learn a little more about us!”

I breathed heavily into the phone. I was ready for a fight. I wanted one.

On the other end of the phone was silence. And then:

“You know you’re not a bug, right?” she asked. “I think you might be a little unbalanced.”

It’s a sad day when you realize that your own dose of craziness has surpassed that of an angry katydid killer lady. A sad day indeed.

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