Last week I took my kids to see the famous smelly corpse flower at the National Botanical Garden.

The trip from the ‘burbs took us an hour door-to-door, which included 15 minutes of waiting in line outside while it was 4,000 degrees with 9 million percent humidity. By the time we were almost in, the only thing keeping the kids from acting like wild animals was the promise that this flower was going to smell like the worst thing they could possibly imagine. My daughter asked me very earnestly if it would be “worse than a poop and vomit bubble,” and I said, “WELL OF COURSE.”

And then we overheard this conversation between a guy standing in line and a Botanical Garden worker:
Guy: “So this thing must be pretty stinky, huh?!”
Worker: “Nah, not really. There are so many people.”
Guy: [Stunned silence.] “Uh, what? It’s supposed to smell like dead bodies. And why does it matter how many people are here?”
Worker: “Yeah, it’s not really THAT bad. And with all the people around, it just doesn’t smell as much. I don’t know, it sort of dissipates or doesn’t make as much smell during the day or something.”

So to recap, this 10-foot-tall uncomfortably phallic looking plant that is plastered all over the intrawebs gets a little shy around crowds. I am pretty sure no one ever mentioned that to me.

Once we finally got up close to the thing, sure enough, it did not smell at all. My kids told me that they thought they could smell something stinky, but I’m pretty sure it was just all the sweaty tourists.
Titus Anum

Which reminds me: what the hell happened with the cicadas? I will tell you what. Nothing. I did not see one all summer long. Back in the spring I read article after disgusting article about the impending East Coast invasion, describing how the cicadas would take over the East Coast, steal our children, ruin our crops, and enslave us, AND NOTHING HAPPENED.

So I am grumpy about a not-smelly-enough stinky plant, and also about missing an invasion of noisy, creepy insects. Perhaps I need a nap. Or perhaps YOU do, DC, with your nature-hype machine.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be beautiful out, and I’m taking my kids to the movies. So there.

Don’t Bug Me

The pending east coast cicada invasion is, of course, scaring the living shit out of me, no thanks to extremely graphic articles like this one in yesterday’s Washington Post. Here is a lovely image to keep in mind while you read:


The WaPo writer actually uses the words “plump, brown creature” and “wriggling hull” in his first sentence, and it only gets worse from there. He describes how cicadas burrow into trees and feed on their sap, vampire-style, and then emerge every 17 years to “sing, mate and reproduce, in a six-week frenzy…”. All in my freaking backyard oh sweet Jesus. But good news, everyone! Apparently the cicadas don’t sting or bite, and they have a “grotesque beauty about them, with red eyes and orange wing veins.” If I ever say that the upside of something is that it won’t hurt me and has red eyes and orange wing veins, please call for help. Also, there is some discussion of “bug carcasses piling up.” And then a quote from a guy about how awesome this is going to be and how we should really welcome this, because nature!

All I know is that for six weeks of the summer, large bugs are going to swarm my yard, and my insect- and outdoors-obsessed children are going to want to make sculptures and jewelry out of their crunchy brown carcasses, and I am going to have to act like it is a beautiful natural event so that I don’t pass my fears on to them, and then I am going to go lock myself in a closet at night and probably have the biggest fit of the willies on record. So I’m sorry, nature guy at WaPo, I am not welcoming this event.

Really, though, his article was very informative. Perhaps I have some bug issues to deal with.

Shockingly, however, that graphic cicada article was not the most disturbing news story I read yesterday. It was this one. Why yes, that is an article about a painting of Dorothy from Golden Girls with her hair did and her boobs out. I can’t bring myself to post the full picture here.

I get that this is a provocative statement from some controversial artist. And I guess he’s commenting on women, and aging, and feminism, and the painting has become some weird flashpoint for art critics.

But I am fixated on this little fact: Bea Arthur never actually sat for this portrait, which means the artist came up with it all on his own. How does that happen? Was he sitting at lunch with a friend one day, and his mind wandered to Bea Arthur’s boobies? Or perhaps lying in bed, going over his to-do list for the next day in his mind, he thought, “I wonder how much people would freak out if I painted Bea Arthur topless?”

Another interesting fact: the painting just sold at auction for $1.9 million, which some weirdos experts in the art world are saying is a bargain. I am pretty sure that if I had an extra million or two lying around, I would not buy this painting. Or any painting, really. Instead, I would buy the world’s largest bug netting and wrap my house. Or take a six week trip somewhere far, far away from the humming, frenzied cicadas that, as I type this, are slowly waking from their 17-year slumber in the barks of my trees.

And now I have the willies.