No, not Bunny. Not the cartoon. I mean the live kind, little gnat things, mosquitoes, moths, those little creatures that gather in masses to ruin your quiet evening in the great outdoors. That kind. Well, yesterday, Ellie came home with a bug-zapper--one of those black wire cage contraptions with an eerie blue light in the center, to which flying insects of all kinds are attracted to their instant, sizzling extinction.
It was a kind thought--at least where I'm concerned. We have a lovely balcony that overlooks the Hollywood Hills. At sunset, when the cool ocean breeze (usually) flows in to nudge out the heat of the day, it's a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the gathering dusk. The bugs seem to like it just as much as we humans do, however, and they have a nasty attraction to human flesh. For some reason best known to themselves, they seem to prefer my flesh to Ellie's: I can't sit out there for more than five minutes without that familiar itchy feeling down around the ankles--their preferred target. When I feel one of settle in for a pleasant dinner at my expense... well, Buddhist principles or no, I do confess, I slap 'em. I don't just brush 'em off, I slap 'em. It's instinctive, uncontrollable, a gesture of pure self-defense. Only afterwards do I reflect that I've taken the life of a living being, to whom I should have been sending goodwill and compassion.
But a bug-zapper... That's another matter. That's malice aforethought, a deliberate, coldly conscious intention to instigate death. We debated the issue throughout the evening. This morning, on our exercise walk around the hill, we debated it further with our friend and neighbor, Nancy. She voiced my own opinion, that the sound of death by electrocution is blood-curdling, even when it's "only" bugs that are the victims. The slap is a much more human sound, and one for which one can, after all, accept personal responsibility. The bug-zapper is by comparison, well, inhuman. And there are always those yellow candles with the nasty smell...
So, finally, after much debate and anguished self-examination, the bug-zapper went back, this morning, to the hardware store. What do you say, you good folk who read these words? Do you use bug-zappers? Do you have wonderful alternative remedies to share? Some of you, surely, live in mosquito-infested territories and have patented methods of bug-deterrence. Let me hear from you. Please.