I believe in the lesson of the BBQ Larva.
Bear with me a minute here.
Once upon a time, I went on a lengthy road-trip from North Carolina to California with a dear friend of mine. We were two single thirty-something women, and we were traveling with a giant fish sculpture in the backseat, for reasons which aren’t particularly relevant here.
The first part of the trip was good. We stopped in Alabama, where my friend’s parents live, and her stepmother was in full Southern hospitality mode, to the point of handing me a Mimosa in the shower. No one has ever handed me a Mimosa in the shower before. We went shoe shopping and got massages.
Then we drove across Texas.
Undoubtedly there are people who love Texas, and that is fine. I am not among them. For one thing, it never ends. You enter Texas, and you are there to stay for a good long time. The sign just inside the border says “El Paso – 895 miles.” You laugh hysterically, then remember that you’re going THROUGH El Paso, and the laughter gets real brittle real quick.
So we drove across Texas, and hours passed, and we were still in Texas.
We ate, and we switched drivers, and we were still in Texas.
Night fell, and we were still in Texas. We decided to drive all night, sleeping in shifts, to try and get Texas out of the way. And we were still in Texas.
I should mention at this point that I had a rather unpleasant bladder condition at the time, so that a single drop of fluid in my bladder made me want to run screaming into the desert, and I was drinking gallons of coffee in order to stay awake, with the end result that I had to pee once every fifteen minutes. Unfortunately there isn’t a rest stop or a gas station every fifteen minutes in Texas, so I was driving from off-ramp to off-ramp, marking my territory at the bottom, and all I had was a roll of paper towels to use, so that wasn’t fun for anybody.
And we were still in Texas.
My friend got a speeding ticket at 4 AM, and we were still in Texas.
We ate at an IHOP, looking like refugees from Bedlam, and we were still in Texas.
And then, at long last, we weren’t in Texas any more. We were in New Mexico, and I was so glad to finally be OUT of Texas that I stopped at the first crappy little tourist trap I saw—Trader Manuel’s Authentic Indian Souvenirs or something like that—and bought nearly a hundred dollars worth of cheap Southwestern art, from the pure joy of being Out of Texas.
I had just bought a black leather cowboy hat, and I was eyeing the stuffed jackalopes with lust in my heart, when the clerk came up to me and said “You bought a hat! You get free larva!”
It is a sad fact of my life up to this point that “You get free larvae!” no longer merits even a batted eyelash. I looked at him. He held up a box that said “BBQ Larvae,” and looked at me with desperate hope.
Perhaps I have the kind of face that says “Tell me about your larvae.” It wouldn’t surprise me. “We got a shipment of these in,” he said sadly, “and we can’t even give ’em away. They’re not bad…” He opened the box and poured out a handful of what looked like air-puffed mealworms. “They’re barbecue flavored, but no one wants them.” He ate one.
“I’ve got nothing to prove,” my friend said, backing away.
Apparently Texas had left me with something to prove, because I said “Hand ‘em over,” and tossed back a few BBQ Larvae. They tasted like…air. With barbecue flavoring.
And we drove on.
I have come to think that life is like this.
You go through life, and some parts of it are great, and some parts are awful and some parts drag on forever. Sometimes you get Mimosas in the shower, and sometimes you get speeding tickets instead. You spend a lot of time marking your territory and you don’t get nearly enough sleep, and you eat a lot of bad food and occasionally you go shoe shopping. Sometimes you’re crabby and sometimes you laugh like a loon. And at the end…well…I don’t believe anybody really knows what happens at the end. Plenty of people claim to, but I suspect it’s all just hope and doctrine and wishful thinking.
I believe that whatever it is, it’s probably nothing like we expect. I suspect that it’s something that only makes sense when you’re looking at it from the other side. Maybe it’s unknowable, and maybe it’s just bizarre.
And y’know, some little part of me won’t be entirely surprised if St. Peter or Buddha or the merciful Ganesh comes out from behind the glowing white light, perhaps with a stuffed jackalope tucked under one arm, and holds up a tiny box and says “You had a life! You get free larvae!”