… on an unpermitted business

Seriously. Get a room.


The dragonflies.

They’re back.

And, Houston? We have a problem.

Because I think I’m running an un-permitted brothel.

I know.

Madam Dingle.

It’s like a bunch of sex-crazed squatters showed up in the middle of the night and just decided to go for it, without the respect nor the common decency to airdrop teeny weeny privacy screens.

Luckily, most of my neighbors have gone for the season because – Miss Judy has taught me this – Landing Road used to be a pretty respectable place, and now I’ve gone and ruined it with my apparent penchant for attracting love-sick flying insects.

I will never be elected to the beautification committee now.

The ethics committee is a distant dream.

I began to collect evidence for my inevitable cease and desist demand letter from my local planning board (due to the no permit thing), choosing the Step-Step-Squat-Click technique utilized by professional dragonfly photographers everywhere, when I was suddenly transported back to Swallow Union Elementary School – circa 2000 – attended by one, super shy third-grader: Mackenzie Dingle.

Bug Day.

You chose your bug.

You researched your bug.

You crafted a presentation about your bug.

You created a costume, so you could be your bug.

And yes…. oh yes… at the end of all the presentations?

Bug parade.




Mac, not so much.

Luckily, she was heavily into the performing arts.

Oh… no, it was not she who was participating in drama class. It was Sam.

Mac just demanded to go to each after school drama class to watch him act like wind and trees and stuff.

So, when it came to the inevitable first non-optional public speaking assignment, I told her the coolest thing was that she wasn’t going to be standing up in front of everybody to give her presentation… her bug was.

Piece o’ cake.

So Mac made up her index cards from her carefully researched class notes, and she practiced each night as if she were giving a monologue.

You know.

As a dragonfly.

She had a nice long tail on her Gymboree leggings (it was really one leg of a pair of nylons, stuffed with other nylons, with little elastics every few inches to make it look like the tail was in sections), she had wings (again, nylons, this time over bent up wire hangers), and she had a funky hat with funky eyes and hairy extra ‘legs’ safety pinned on a nice purple shirt (because, purple).

“Hello. My name is Odonata. But that’s just my scientific name. You can just call me dragonfly.”

Oh, ya. She nailed the emphasis on ‘dragonfly’ every time.

She made sure to include good and scary information about mandibles and snatching prey out of the air, for her best friend and fellow frog catcher Mikey Doran (know your audience).

Eventually, Bug Day arrived.

Mac was quiet that morning, didn’t want to eat breakfast.

She packed up her costume in her little plastic bag from Shaws, and walked silently to the car as if it were the prison van.

I actually got out whilst in the drop off line that day, a big no-no. But, as the mother of the shyest kid in third grade on Bug Day, I got a nod and a pass from Principal Myerson.

I took Mac by the shoulders, looked into her huge brown eyes, and said “You’ve got this. You are going to be a great bug.” And she took a deep breath and pursed her lips and nodded resignedly (though I chose to take it as ‘bravely’).

And I watched her walk to the door, and then into the abyss.


That feeling of sending them off to their doom.

tick tick tick tick tick…. 

I had to wait until 2:15 to see how it went.

Would she bounce off the bus or creep slowly down each huge step, holding it together until the bus lumbered off, and the other kids couldn’t see her anymore…

I could hear the bus coming before I could see it rounding the curve.

I took my own deep breath and got ready.

I could see her moving to the front of the bus as it rolled to a stop… the red lights were flashing… I could hear the soft thump thump thump of her decent… she rounded the front of the bus…

All smiles.


All the way up our long, dirt driveway she told me about the day.

Lots of kids just read from their cards and didn’t even look up!

She was so glad she memorized her lines.

Her tail looked great and her extra legs didn’t even fall off and her wings weren’t even too heavy!

She was elated.

When we got to the house and went inside, we had a message on the answering machine. I expected it to be JoHn checking in, but it was Mrs. Chadzynski – Sam’s drama teacher – who said she’d snuck into Mackenzie’s class to see the presentation and that she wanted to tell Mac that hers was the absolute best presentation she saw all day! 

Mrs. Chadzynski said Mac embodied the essence of the dragonfly (Mrs. Chadzynski is originally from Poland, but has this inCREDible cosmopolitan European accent and dramatic way of speaking and moving that is so totally and authentically her that it is completely disarming, and enchanting. Mac adored her.)

The kid beamed.

Screw the Go-Gurts, it was ice-cream all around!

A celebration of a fine performance.

Which brings me back to the here and now.

These freaking bugs… they are just performing!

Yes, also fornicating with complete abandon…

But I’m going to go with ‘performing’ when I step up in front of the planning board to plead my case.

“No, no, Mr. Planning Board President, I am not running a brothel without a permit… I’m running a circus without a permit. These bugs are just my high wire act. It’s about balance not sex!”

I mean, sure, I’ll still get nailed for the no permit thing.

But it will be for something more ‘respectable’.

I’m still a little nervous.

Maybe if I presented my case as if it were a monologue.

Or maybe as a bug!

That damn costume has to be around here somewhere…

Thanks for readin’.

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