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1. Just a little bit longer

2. Pain is just bread in French

3. All aboard!


Entomologists are not generally known for their humor although I never understood why being a bug lover should inhibit the enjoyment of a good laugh. The only guy I know who has anything to do with entomology is Percy Crapper, who, despite his unfortunate name and his oddball profession, has a sense of humor that keeps the regular crowd in stitches.

Actually, Perce is not a pure scientist, but rather a teacher of middle school biology and phys ed. He tells me that getting those thirteen-year-old kids interested in bug collecting seems to keep them from getting into worse mischief.

“It’s really pretty surprising what you can convince kids to do with a little creative thinking. Usually the boys think it’s going to be great fun when I say they can carry around jars of poison.”

“Poison?” I asked him. “Isn’t that a little outside the middle school curriculum?”

He just laughed at me. “It’s just those little jars we had when we were kids. You remember, catch a fly and stick him in the jar for a while so you can tag  him for your collection. A little cyanide in plaster of Paris.”

I could remember that, all right. We were a bit older than those kids, if I recalled it correctly, but we had a ball ridding the world of undesirable pests while gaining extra credit with each bug in our displays.

“Of course,” I told him. “Your dad took you out in the country one weekend and you ended up with dozens of specimens the rest of us had never even seen before. You even got a walking stick right off the ground, when I had to trade three cockroaches and a mud dauber to Harold Finnegan before he’d let me have his extra one. And the one he traded me had one leg missing and was a small one at that. Yours was a lot bigger, and that teacher gave you double points! It wasn’t fair!”

Percy gave me a medium smile and said, “It was just a little bit longer than yours. I wasn’t really trying to beat you, you know. Besides, that was twenty years ago. Forget about it.”

I wasn’t ready to give up quite that easily.

“My father should have called the Board of Education to do something about such blatant favoritism,” I complained, a couple of decades late.

“All a board can do is suggest,” he said.