It’s a classic story, almost a cliche at this point. I was speeding around a lake on my uncle’s old WaveRunner, “Freddy,” when I saw what I thought were the branches of a submerged tree jutting out from the lake’s surface.
Freddy was a solid watercraft, having served my family for decades. I knew its hull would make short work of those twigs, and the shattering wood would make quite a spectacle, so I gunned my vehicle towards them.
It wasn’t until I was too close to dodge that I realized it wasn’t a tree at all. It was the head of a swimming elk. Not just any swimming elk either, it was a swimming elk that happened to be the pet of a local djinn also named Freddy that I had heard rumors about but I thought was a myth.
“What the fuck, dude?!” screamed Freddy, apparating from behind a discarded tin can on the shore. “That’s my favorite elk! Can’t a Cervidae take a bath around here without some moron ripping it’s head off with a Sea-Doo?”
“Uh, it’s actually a WaveRunner, but don’t worry about it. I’m sorry man, I thought your elk friend was a tree.” I said to Freddy the djinn. Freddy the WaveRunner bobbed in its own wake.
“Wow, you’re really a dick, aren’t you? I can’t even berate you for killing my friend without you feeling the need to correct me. Guess what? I’m going to turn you into a bug.” said the flabbergasted djinn.
“Oh, uh, what kind of bug?” I asked.
“Well, I’m not an asshole like some people,” I think he meant me “so I’ll let you decide.”
“Like I can have the abilities of a bug or you’re literally turning me into a bug of my choosing?” I asked.
“The latter. I’ll give you 24 hours to decide, choose wisely. Before you ask, here are the ground rules. One, you’ll be reborn as that bug and have the natural lifespan of that bug, but you will have all the memories and intelligence, or lack of it, rimshot, you have now. You won’t be able to communicate with humans ever, or other bugs.”
I waited for him to continue, but he just stared at me.
“You said ‘one’ as if there was more than one rule.” I finally said after a long silence.
“I really don’t like you. See you in 24 hours, choose well!” Freddy said, poofing away at the last word.
Well, I had a lot of thinking to do so I WaveRunnered back home, my mind heavy with visions of rolling balls of dung like a dung beetle for the rest of my short life.
It’s not often that when I research for help on Google that I am met with methods for suicide, but when I searched for “What would be the best bug to be?” all the search returned were pesticides.
How was this not a more frequently asked question? I decided I’d ask around in my social circles for advice.
You know that famous ice-breaker, “Would you rather fly or be invisible.” that is supposed to tell you something about a person’s personality? Like if they’d rather be invisible, they must be diabolical because they want to hide from society? Or if they want to fly, they seem themselves as a hero? My peers’ answers seemed to reflect their personality as well.
“You’d have to choose to be a spider, right?” said my friend Albert. “If you’re a web-spinner, you’re basically living life as a carnivorous artist, snatching food from out of the sky with your cool spiral webs. That’s pretty rad.”
“What if I say ‘spider’ and he makes me a tarantula? Aren’t djinns known for twisting your words to make your wish into something shitty?” I asked.
“Well that’s on you for not being specific, but tarantulas are cool too. You can run real fast, jump, or be the pet of a Goth.” Albert replied.
“Why would I want to be a Goth’s pet?” I asked, perplexed that Albert listed that as a positive.
“Goth girls are hot.” was his answer.
I concluded that if one chooses to be a spider, they are a creep.
Next I asked my coworker Beth what bug I should choose to be. I don’t know if she realized I was asking seriously, but she had obviously thought of this before.
“Easy! A bee – You’re objectively pretty. You can fly. Spend a lot of time with flowers, getting all up in there with your hairy legs. But then again, you’re also a part of a hive mind. If you’re not the baby-factory queen, you’re a limb of that queen. But you also do funny little dances. I can see both sides.”
Beth used to be a Rockette, so I should’ve seen that answer coming.
Jermaine was standing next to Beth when I asked, and disagreed with her assessment. “I’d definitely be an ant – Same hive mind downside of the bee, but super strength! You can live in a pretty sweet sand castle with an infinite amount of rooms and your entire family.”
“But you’re also expendable,” I replied, playing devil’s advocate, “That family you pal around with will carry your carapace back to the sand castle to munch on as soon as they get the chance.”
“I think that’s true of all bugs, right?” said Jermaine.
I had no idea if he was right, but got very sad. Jermaine was a pragmatist, and the son of an air-traffic controller. His mom was allergic to blueberries. That’s not really relevant to anything but I couldn’t think of what type of people Jermaine represented with his “ant” response, so I figured I’d let you suss it out yourself.
Other answers I got were fireflies, scorpions, and stick-bug. People who answer this way are, respectively, Attention-seekers, radiologists, and German.
The last person I asked was Maggie. I had a crush on her, so I was hoping her answer would be insightful.
“A ladybug, because nobody ever tries to kill them. And they can fly, which is important.”
I was forced to let her know that ladybugs are actually beetles and it was obvious she was trying to get me in trouble with the djinn. I had no idea Maggie was such a horrible person.
When my 24 hours were up, I returned to the lake on Freddy, found Freddy’s tin can, turned off Freddy and shouted to Freddy.
“Great djinn! I have made my decision!” I yelled into the tin can.
“Jesus Christ dude, why are you yelling?” Freddy said from behind me, index fingers in his ears.
“Sorry. I just thought – never mind, I’m ready to be turned into a bug. Question though, I’m not going to pick this but if I had actually named a beetle, would you be upset?” I asked.
“Wow, you really are a pedant aren’t you? I meant insect, who cares about the difference. You killed my favorite elk! I was stressed out.” he replied.
I felt bad for thinking Maggie was out to get me. Maybe I should have picked her answer, but I had made up my mind.
“Okay, I’ve decided, but I have one request. Do you think I can choose where my egg is laid?” I pleaded. I gave the djinn my best puppy dog eyes.
“Sure, whatever, I just want you out of my face at this point.” He crossed his arms and bowed his head, and my world went black.
I see a faint light. I am in my egg. I stretch my legs and crack the shell. I have wings. They skitter tentatively, and then spread. I instinctually know how to fly, and I do. Up into the blue sky. As my eyes adjust, I see the Washington Monument. Using it as a landmark, I find the White House, flit through an air duct into the Oval Office, and sting Donald Trump in the eye. The newspapers will call me Lee Harvey Os-Wasp.