The Butterfly Effect

29 Aug

The camping trip was really last night – it just didn’t seem like a good idea to post a blog saying “Hey everyone, me and my entire family are going four counties away from our house now and we are taking all of our dogs with us!  We love you!”

But that’s what we were doing, and so I was sneaky and said that the camping trip was next week.  But it’s already over!  If you were thinking of coming over and availing yourself of my sweet, Grove City blogger’s pad then you missed your chance. 

I am a litttle bit paranoid.  For instance, right when I heard about Chinese hackers who could turn on your web cam and look at you, I started sticking a Post-It to the camera on my lap top.  It doesn’t have a lens cap for some reasons, so that’s what I do. 

I don’t think it’s very important that the hackers are Chinese, that’s just the detail sticks out in my mind from the news story.

I still do it, stick a Post-It over my web cams.  It’s one of those things my wife pretends isn’t happening.

Anyway, time to take the daughters camping, secretly, off the radar.  Logistics dictated that I drive Ellen down separately, since she had to pick up one of her little pals.  Please enjoy these highlights of our conversation on the way down.

She started off with the normal stuff – let’s get chips, how long til points A, B, and C, etc.  Then she was quiet for a while.  Then she suddenly groaned and said, “Argh!  It makes me so mad that I’ll never find out about the universe!”

I said, “What’s that, sweetheart?”

She gestured at it, the universe blasting around our windows.  “How did this happen?  How would we know if it stopped happening?  If something was happening before all this was happening, wasn’t that also the universe?  What’s going on around here?!”

“You mean the universe?”

“Yes!  It’s so huge and we’ll never even see our own whole planet!  It makes me so mad that I’ll never find out what the universe is all about.”

“Maybe that’s what God is for, sweetheart.”

“Well if God made the universe it’s the same problem.  Where did He come from?  Doesn’t He have a mom?  It’s even more frustrating, cause it seems like He could just tell us, but He won’t.”

“No, I don’t mean God is for universe-making.  I mean, God is for not driving yourself crazy trying to figure that out.”

“Well, He’s not helping.”

“Listen, maybe when we die, we shed these bodies like the cocoons of butterflies, and we leave the Earth behind and go out into the universe for infinity, learning everything you just said, finding out anything we want to know.”

We drove along for about five minutes while she thought about that and then I’m not kidding, a giant yellow butterfly swirled out of the air seemed to hover for a second directly in front of the windshield.  It practically smiled and said, “Hi, Ellen!”

Then it hit the windshield – we were going seventy miles an hour – and left a sparkly yellow splat.

Ellen screamed, a real phonetic scream.  “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”  She clapped her hands to her head, screaming.

I said, yikes, and hit the windshield wipers but I was out of fluid.  Splerk, splerk – now there was a sparkly butterfly gut rainbow on the glass.  Ellen kept right on screaming.

“You know, I think butterflies live like eight weeks,” I told her – had no idea, really.  “That one was probably in constant pain it was so huge and old.  I’ll bet he was praying for death’s sweet release, and along came Ellen and her dad, like the Grim Reaper and his spunky little girl.”


I looked at the butterfly streak – it was in fact sparkly, like there was glitter or pixie dust in it or something.  Had I ever washed this car, ever in four years?  Even once?

I said, “I think he’s okay, sweetheart.”

Ellen turned the scream into a question, gesturing at all the other splotches on my windshield.  “Are all of these spots butterflies?!”

I looked at them – there was a good chance that they were.  I blurted out, “Bird poop.”

Ha.  It worked.  She even stopped screaming for a second so I asked her, “You know what the white stuff is in bird poop?”

She said, “No.”

“That’s bird poop, too.”

“We’ve got to slow down.  You’re killing butterflies everywhere you go.”

“Ellen don’t kid yourself, it’s us or them.  They look innocent and pretty and colorful, sure, but given the chance, that butterfly would kill us both in a heartbeat.  Our friends, too, every single one of them.  Burn down all our houses, the shops we work in…”

“There’s another one!” 

Big one, too.  Looks like a sparrow as it dips right in front of us and then over our heads unharmed. 

“You see its fangs?”


“Piranhas of the air, darling.  You want to keep your feet on the ground and stop fooling yourself.”

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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Uncategorized


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