tfw is a mini personal essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?
You are in a conference room. You are having a meeting with a few people, some of whom are older and some of whom are younger. You are all adults. There are men and women of all ethnicities and all sexual identities. You are talking about work. It is a very professional environment.
Then, as if a natural disaster is occurring, there is a shriek. Someone points, there, at it, the thing: there is a bug in the room. Everyone scatters, some crane their necks to stare and some leave the room, some run around with high knees, trying to take flight. “Kill it,” someone says. “No, you kill it!” another person says. “I’ll kill it!” a person says. “No, I’ll kill it!” another asserts. There is talk about how to kill it and what to do with it, if it will fly or if we should try to put it in a cup and take it outside. People are freaking out. Some people in the room are millionaires, too.
You are in a classroom. It is halfway through class. The teacher is lecturing and, slowly, people in the room start to move as the teacher writes on a blackboard. There is some squealing and exaggerated wincing. Everyone is doing all they can to not interrupt, to not be rude, but there is a bug. People are standing, isolating the area of the room where the bug is. “What’s the matter?” the teacher turns around. People point. There are eyes closed.
“What?” the teacher asks. They walk closer, to the empty spot, and people start to hum louder, warning, hoping that there is no encounter between the creature and the teacher and, then, what you were all expecting to happen happens: the teacher breaks and squeals and joins the crowd, staring, pointing, willing it away. “Can someone kill it?” the teacher looks around. No one says anything. “Does anyone have a shoe?” the teacher asks.
You are on a bus. People are yelling and standing on top of each other and, like a bubble of air, a hole is created through the mass. Women and men scream and there are a lot of “NO, NO, NO, NO, NOs” exclaimed and “STOP THE BUS! STOP THE BUS!” demands. The bug is creating it’s own catwalk through the crowd and you, sardined in the mess, are doing your best to keep your toes from being squished. The doors open people exit the bus, running away from the vehicle, crying contamination and for exterminators.
“Please remain calm,” the driver announces. “I need you to remain calm or please exit the bus now.” People curse the driver and yell. “Are they crazy?” someone says. “Fuck you!” another person yells. “It’s just a bug,” the driver says. “Someone step on it.”
You are at a bar. The yelps of patrons and drawn phones rival the music. People say it’s gross that a bug is here. People say that this place should be shut down. People try to pretend that these creatures do not exist and that they—these creatures who are feet tall instead of inches tall—do not cohabit at all times with them. We are always around each other, hiding from each other, pretending each other doesn’t exist until that moment when we have to deal with the fact that, yes, we do exist, living concurrently, constantly at a potential moment to be grossed out and afraid of each other.
Then, bang. It’s gone.
Everyone laughs. Everyone goes back to their seats. The meeting starts again. The class goes on. The bus continues it’s route. The bar bustles. The bug is dead or gone or simply existing in its own universe away from ours, where only people and the occasional animal are, where bugs are not allowed to expose our petty fears and high pitched screams and inability to land a heel against the ground with precision and force.
Life goes on, tense.