Ladybirds are the kindest of all the insects. They are not the mandible-clacking monsters that museum curators keep as pets. They’re gentle, they never forget birthdays, and if you look stressed, a ladybird will play a set of ladybird-sized pan pipes until your cares evaporate, like milk.
Why are ladybirds adorable? I shouldn’t have to tell you – this information is drilled into all of us as children. And the children agree – the same boys who throw cans of Coke at honey bees and blackmail spiders can be found in a softly lit room, allowing a ladybird to crawl up their favourite pencil.
It’s conceivable you’ve forgotten exactly why ladybirds are fucking amazing, so here’s a quick recap.
1. They are a metaphor for human aspiration. A ladybird, on your finger or pencil, will always climb to the top. (It’s a metaphor because humans wouldn’t clamber to the top of a constantly turning pencil, and also, humans aren’t ladybirds.)
2. Farmers actually buy ladybirds. They buy them in big sacks, and tip them onto their land, where they eat the aphids and till their soil with their outrageous ladybird masked balls.
3. It’s terribly unlucky to kill a ladybird. This can only mean that God loves ladybirds, because God’s in control of luck.
So, ladybirds are brilliant. Or are they?
The answer is no they are not.
I’ve got ladybirds in my room. I know it’s ladybirds for two reasons. First, I’ve taken photos of their spots as they run along my pens. The flash gets their attention, and they turn around to look at me. Giving me a little nod, as if to say “come on, pick it up, I want to run to the top”.
The second reason is that I’ve killed fucking loads (two) of them.
The Melancholy Death Of Lady Bird
The first one landed on my neck without me even noticing it. It must have landed on my T-shirt, and started climbing to the top of me – like a difficult pencil. At the time, I was killing gorillas in World of Warcraft (see also: lack of recent posts), and after fireballing enough to learn how to levitate, I took a couple of seconds to scratch all the bits that needed scratching. A flutter, fzzt and smear later, and I had ladybird guts all over on my neck.
THIS ISN’T SO FUCKING CUTE NOW IS IT
To Lose Two Ladybirds Is Beginning To Look Like Carelessness
I caught the second one after a shower. I threw my towel towards my bed, and the second I loosened my grip, I saw a ladybird basking in the growing shadow of my soggy afterwash. I didn’t want more guts on my towel, so I lunged to grab it. This un-coordinated action knocked a can of Red Bull and a small stack of CDs off my desk, and whipped the ladybird to death.
Naked, suprised, and weapon in hand, I felt like the worst kind of locker-room bully. What kind of monster would towel-whip a ladybird? What kind of naked monster would do that?
My Truce With The Unknowable Menace
Since then, I’ve decided to leave them be. I don’t have what ladybirds want, and I don’t know what they’re scared of. If I was living in a cartoon, I’d try leaving a trail of aphids to the garden. But if life were a cartoon, they’d be attracted to the delicious traces of Lemon Source shampoo on my pillow. I don’t have to tell you how these things work; you’ve all swapped signposts around to get your pursuers to drive into a canyon. But even thinking this way means I’ve now imagined resting my head on a pillow-slip filled with hundreds of ladybirds. I’ve imagined it thirty times since starting this paragraph. It’s like a fucking ladybird has crawled into my ear, and it’s steering my brain.
This morning, I felt something fall onto my back, and I jerked to my feet. Having an unquantifiable number of ladybirds in the room where I dream – mainly about ladybirds – isn’t helping. I looked around. Nothing. Then I looked up, in that slow way that people usually look up when a Godzilla has just stamped on their car. And I saw a ladybird, sitting on my lightshade. Was it… throwing things at me? I can’t bring myself to quite believe it was squeezing off some eggs into my hair, but something definitely dropped from above, from where that ladybird was sitting.
That kind of shit in a trucebreaker, you big spotty bitch, and remember that I’m millions of times heavier than you are. And remember what I did to your friends. I killed them by accident; if I put my mind to it, I could be your fucking scourge.
RIP SALLY YOU WERE A LADYBIRD OF THE OLD SCHOOL