After finishing with our obligatory Friday in-law visit, we take the kids for outings. This time of year, the weather is still tolerable so we are engaging in mainly outdoor activities after Asr. Yesterday, we went to a small outdoor amusement park where my kids and their cousins rode on small roller-coasters, drove bumper cars, and happily hurled from motion sickness. I sat watching the fun from a bench, holding my sweet, sleeping baby. I soaked in the soft breeze filtering through my black chiffon burga and relished the gentle warmth of the season’s slowly setting sun as if trying to keep a piece of it to consol me through the upcoming harsh summer months. I blocked out the whooping and hollering bellowing forth from all the kids in the park in order to engrave the perfection of the moment in my memory. The sky began to change from blue, to hues of pink and orange necessitating our departure. The kids were happy and so was I.
We embarked on the return journey home to a symphony of requests for ice cream and slushies. How dare we adults consider the outing complete without the requisite intake of sugary substances. Five minutes into our journey, I felt a disconcerting twinge in skin of my left shoulder. This twinge slowly started to turn into a sharp radiating heat. Then another twing developed on my left arm, and another on my chest.
“STOP THE CAR!”
“Stop the car someplace where no one can see, it feels like there’s something sticking me, like a hot needle, AAAAYYYYE! Hurry!”
My husband proceeded to honour my orders and quickly pulled the car over to the side of the road, although not in as secluded a spot as I had hoped.
“Huh, esh feech? (what’s wrong?)”, the kids started asking me from the back of the car as they watched me begin a frantic search for the source of my pain under the folds of my abaya.
“Oh no”, I thought to myself, as I batted at my shoulder, “I know this pain.”
“FEE GARROOS!” I wailed pathetically to the car’s occupants upon the realization of my assailant’s identity. I’m now clawing even more desperately at my clothes under my abaya. “FEE GARROOS, FEE GARROOS!”
The Garroos: my enemy. It’s an insect which I'm convinced is an agent of Satan and it must have hitched a ride in my abaya as I contendedly sat on that bench. I have no idea to which kingdom, phyla, class, order, family, genus, or species it belongs (boy, my 10th grade biology teacher would be impressed I’ve remembered those classifications all these years). It looks like a large, long, flying ant. It thrives on hot weather and warm surfaces-including skin. It has pinchers that inflict a bite that feels akin to a bee sting which leave a radiating heat from the afflicted area that lasts up to a week or more (depending on how sensitive you are). Summary-you don’t want to be bitten by a Garroos.
I proceeded to lift open my abaya and my scarf while ducking down in an effort to keep myself concealed from the passing traffic. I systematically probed quickly through my clothes with my right hand while holding layers of clothes open in my left. My husband, sensing my desperation, proceeded to help by jamming his hand down my shirt and rummaging around (I’m not sure his intentions were all pure as I think he copped a feely!).
“I don’t see anything”, he says.
“I know it’s there, look!” I produced a corner of my now red and swelling left shoulder as proof of my sanity. “See, it’s in there somewhere.”
We sat at the side of the road for the next few moments, trying to ferret out the offending insect which only succeeded in angering him further thus, prompting more bites. All the while, the kids were snickering at me through my yelps of pain.
“Maybe it’ll crawl down into her underwear”, the little heathens speculated from the back seat of the car.
Admitting defeat, we conceded to continuing the drive home with the understanding that I couldn’t strip naked in the car to find that bastard bug! I believe I have never held so still in my life as I did during that car trip home. The only thing that moved on me was a finger, which tapped nervously on the armrest in anticipation of more bites.
“But we wanted ice cream”, the ungrateful little twits whined at us.
After a few minutes of ceaseless whining, my nerves broke and I chastised them for their selfishness without so much as expanding my ribcage to amplify my volume to avoid another bite. “It’s on the move”, I whimpered as I felt that hideous insect crawling over to the right shoulder via my chest.
My husband- who missed his true life’s calling, playing the part of Figaro, the Barber of Seville- began to bellow a tune using his best booming operatic voice:
FEEgaRoos FEEGaRoos FEEGaRoos FEEGaRoos
FEE - GA - ROOS!
This ditty distracted the kids from their ice cream campaign and they began singing along. Finally we arrived at my house. While rounding the corner just before reaching my house, I advised everyone to stay in the car for at least one minute after I went in the house. The car hadn’t yet rolled to a stop and the garage door was only partially open when I began my race to the bedroom. Upon stepping foot into my courtyard, my abaya, headscarf, and veil came off faster than what’s been witnessed on any departing international Saudi Airlines flight. My strip-in-transit was continued as I ran up the stairs of my empty house, items of clothing dropping to the floor immediately upon their removal. I entered my room in only my bra and pants and flipped my hair over, giving it a thorough shake out. I quickly removed the last few remaining articles of clothing and proceeded to beat all the clothes against the wall.
I never did find that bastard bug! His legacy: 3 bites on my left arm, 2 bites my left shoulder, 1 bite my right shoulder, 1 bite on my chest, and a really bad nights sleep from their hot-itchy pain. Each red bite measures around 4 cm in diameter with a swollen nucleus of 1½cm. What else was his legacy? He deprived you of reading the earth moving, serious post I had planned because instead, I wrote this one.