In the years since I moved to Los Angeles, I have realized something very unappealing about myself. That is that I'm easily startled. When I was younger, I loved scary movies, haunted houses, and all things spooky. The older I get, the less I enjoy these things, and if someone ever manages to drag me to a haunted house, I will walk through it with my eyes closed and my ears plugged, hoping that the friend I'm with cares about me enough to guide me through it. I also can't handle many scary movies anymore. I liked The Ring, but if Naomi Watts hadn't been it, I would've skipped it. The "Saw" movies are films you couldn't pay me to see. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but the point is, I no longer find it necessary to go to the movies to become scared.
I have ALWAYS, for as long as I can remember, had a strong aversion to bugs. All bugs. I HATE THEM SO MUCH. Living in Ohio, the bugs aren't too bad there. They're rarely anything more than an annoyance. Mosquitoes, flies, ants. All okay bugs as far as bugs go, but annoying nonetheless. As I've gotten older, the only bug I can really tolerate is the ant. Flies have even become to gross me out. But the ant - the normal sized ant, not one of those huge queen ones - is a cute little bug. And I've always been a fan of the phrase, You're as cute as an ant's eyebrow, because come on... an eyebrow that little? CUTE.
We used to visit Florida every summer, where they have fire ants (ew) and bugs the size of miniature ponies. This was what I hated about Florida. I was never able to get over the bugs, and I was never able to shake the feeling that at any moment, one was going to land on me. These large bugs that I'm thinking of (palmetto bugs, roaches) are very harmless. I know this. And I have never had any horrible experiences with bugs... but as a friend of mine once said, there's something to be said for something so little and quiet that it can sneak up on you and startle you. This is what I hate about bugs. That, and they're really ugly.
Naturally, as in any big city with a warm climate, Los Angeles sees its fair share of bugs. I am so incredibly grossed out/afraid of said bugs that I usually walk with my eyes toward the ground so I don't step on any, and if I can see one from a few feet away, I will cross the street to avoid it. I understand this is extreme, but this is my life, people. I'm just telling it like it is. I'm bringing you honesty, and all you can do is judge me. Thanks, really. It's helping my bug phobia.
My old apartment building, the one I just moved out of this weekend, is not in the cleanest of neighborhoods, and as convenient as it is that we have a trash chute, it really just welcomes bugs into the building. My old roommate has a similar aversion to bugs (even though she grew up in Florida). I realized just how strong this is when they were painting our building, inside and out. They taped around our doorbell so they didn't paint over it. One day, on the exposed adhesive of the masking tape, I saw a little bug, trapped. A textbook cockroach. Tiny, ugly, gross. I had to look at this little cockroach every day for about three weeks until the lazy managers FINALLY removed the tape. My roommate also had to look at this little bug, every time she came home or left. We were both equally grossed out and freaked out, so much so that we would not go near enough to the bug to remove the tape which in turn would remove the DEAD bug. We'd rather it stare back at us than go near it.
The other day, when I was packing my stuff up from that apartment, I opened the door to listen for the washing machine, to see if it might be free. When I opened the door, a little brown bug (species still undetermined) came flying for me. In a very hurried move, I slammed the door shut, but the little bastard managed to squeeze in and land on the wall. Now here's where I wish I would have installed that hidden camera, because in the same move as slamming the door shut, I jumped away from the entrance to the apartment and turned my body 180 degrees (in the air), landing in an en garde position, facing the door and wall with offending bug, with my feet spread apart and my fists in the air.
That's right. My fists were literally in the air. I was ready to go to blows with this bug.
I couldn't even turn on the light to get a better look at the bug. The less I saw, the better. I raced into my bedroom, grabbed a shoe, swallowed my fear (I don't even like to KILL bugs), and slammed the shoe onto the wall, right on top of the bug. I held it there for a second, making sure the little creep was really dead. In my head, I pretended it was a small moth, because had it been anything else, I probably wouldn't have been able to kill it. Of course, had it been a moth, I wouldn't have killed it in the first place, but the risk was too great to not kill it.
It would be one thing if this was the only thing that really startled me. But it's not. Today, I was filling up a cup with water from the water cooler in my quiet office. I jumped about two feet in the air when the air inside the water forced its way to the surface, causing a loud "plop" sound. I realized then that I either need to stop drinking so much caffeine or I need to CHILL THE FUCK OUT.
Maybe a little of both.