Aauugh! Oh, I do apologize—you startled me. You’re not with “them” are you?
Please forgive my deplorable manners. Let me introduce myself. My name is Alfred, although for a brief time I was known by the ghastly name of “Crawly.” I am a praying mantis. My purpose in life, as ordained by our Heavenly Creator, is to dine on succulent insects which might destroy humans’ food crops and flowers. My personal preference is rose aphids; therefore, rose gardens are where I choose to spend the majority of my time.
Pardon? Oh, you would like to know who the “them” are to which I referred earlier? Do let me explain…
One fine day, while sunning on a lovely Heritage English rosebush, I was abruptly ambushed and placed into captivity by two Miniature Humans and their Overly Excitable Mother. Before I could launch a counterattack—although I do not have much of a natural defensive system anyway—I found myself trammeled in a box, surrounded by mesh wire. Gone was the sultry sun. Gone were the pulchritudinous pink petals. Gone were the alluring aphids. Gone was my freedom. I, apparently, was being adopted as the family pet.
“What do we feed it?”
“Can we get him out and hold him?”
“How do you know it’s a him? Maybe it’s a her.”
I must confess that last remark was hurtful. True, my physique may be wanting, but nonetheless it is an insult to have my masculinity brought into question. I am, indubitably, a “him.” Moreover, “hers” are cannibals, and I am not a cannibal.
“It’s a him, and we’re going to call him Crawly.”
“No, we’re going to call her Crawlina.”
The Overly Excitable Mother definitively declared that I am a male, and therefore I was unceremoniously dubbed “Crawly.”
Daily, the Miniature Humans carried my mesh-wire box outdoors. The Overly Excitable Mother would assist them in capturing flies and assorted other insects for me to eat. It was utterly entertaining to watch her sneak up on the unsuspecting prey, ensnare it in a jar, and diligently maneuver it inside my box. The humans learned early on that I would feast only on living arthropods; therefore, if my meal were to perish during the transition to my mesh-wire home, it would lay untouched at the bottom of the box.
I, on the other hand, discovered that I cannot eat with three sets of eyes staring at me. For some peculiar reason, the humans insisted on watching me bushwhack, annihilate and devour my meal. After that first experience, I refused to allow my mealtime to be reduced to some barbaric form of entertainment. Therefore, when the next morsel was delivered, I ignored it. While six human eyes gawked at me, I kept my five eyes fixed on them. Eventually the humans tired of watching me stand motionless, and as soon as their backs were turned, I seized my prey.
One unseasonably torrid day, the Overly Excitable Mother came to the conclusion that it was much too warm for me inside the stifling house. She reasoned that for the betterment of my wellbeing, she, the two Miniature Humans and I would go for a jaunt in the air-conditioned automobile. Much to my delight, or so I thought at the time, I was removed from my wire-mesh box for this excursion. The Overly Excitable Mother positioned me on the middle console and backed out of the driveway. As our journey began, she turned the air conditioner on and proceeded to point the blowers directly at me.
“There you go, Crawly. Much better, huh? Look kids, he must like it there—he’s not moving. See his antennae blowing?”
Are you crazy, lady? I wanted to scream. I was not moving because I was holding on for dear life. Praying mantises are taught from an early age to batten down the hatches when the wind blows. This was not a joy ride; this was survival of the fittest.
I do not remember how much of my limited lifespan was spent as “Crawly.” Inevitably, the family grew weary of me, or took pity on me, and returned me to the Heritage English rosebush. I remained on that beautiful bush for a day or two before succumbing to a strong breeze which carried me to another new home. Sometimes I wonder about the Miniature Humans and their Overly Excitable Mother, and I pray that next time, they get a dog.
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