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Bob Bites the Dust

June 29, 2006

Bob is Dead

Thursday, June 29, 2006

It is with solemn heart that I share the news of Bob, the Japanese Beetle’s passing. Bob has been on loan with us from the Johnsons while they are on vacation. He has been living comfortably in a bug container on our kitchen counter this last week and a half. He spent his last days digging in his litter, eating his banana-scented Dorcas Jelly and scraping his scaly legs on the plastic walls of his cage making a delightfully creepy, squeaking sound. For the last two days we have noted that Bob has appeared a bit sluggish. Several times he has been found belly-up in his litter, but a soft shaking of his box has shown him to be fine and probably just…uh…resting? But today, the girls and I were disgusted….uh, I mean saddened to find that he did not recover from his resting position as he had done in days previous. No. Today, he is, in fact, dead.

Good-bye, Bob, the Mushi King. We enjoyed our brief time with you. You will live on in our hearts.

Maybe I owe you a little background info on how Bob came to be in our lives. Ok, ok, you talked me into it. Almost two weeks ago, my friend Anya asked if we would mind babysitting their bug while they went back to the states to visit family. “Not at all,” I chirped. “Your bug would be welcome in our home.”
“Are you sure your girls would not mind?” she kindly queried.
“Mind? Oh no, they would love it. In fact, my oldest daughter went to a bug camp two summers ago and she is fascinated by bugs. It would be a good learning experience for them,” I confided.

Days later, the giant, Japanese beetle was delivered to our house with his food. The girls — mostly my oldest daughter — were immediately repulsed.

“We feed him once a week. We’re not really sure how much he’s supposed to eat. (Which, for reference, is not as unusual as it sounds because when I attempted to read the feeding instructions, I found them all to be in Japanese.) Oh, and his name is Bob.” Also, delivered with Bob, was a delicious bag of cakes and goodies for us from a delightful local bakery called Cozy Corner. I haven’t been there yet, but I have twice seen little old ladies on the train carrying bags with the Cozy Corner logo on them. Apparently, it’s nice to hop off the train at Ebina, run in the Cozy Corner for a few delicious pastries, and then take them to a friend you are planning to visit. Aren’t people here so nice?!!! They always are thinking of nice things to do for one another. And, my friend, being so sweet and thoughtful, did this for us in exchange for watching Bob.

Before they left, they did assure us that if he didn’t make it, it would not be a travesty. In fact, they had originally had two beetles — one for each of their older boys — purchased for them by their cool dad at the nearby 7-Eleven. Oh, I haven’t shared that yet. 7-Eleven, the convenience store, is EVERYWHERE here. Also called 7-i Holdings, they are a huge convenience store chain and carry all kinds of traditional convenience items, snack foods, Japanese Manga (comic books), and apparently Mushi King Japanese Beetles. To date, I’ve only noticed one convenience store that has a Japanese name. All the others boast familiar signs from the States or other American-sounding names, for example Circle K, Lawson’s, Hot Spar (from Netherlands), Family Mart to name a few. Who’d have thought our convenience store life-style would be so prevalent here in the country of Japan? Certainly not me! Side note: convenience stores don’t have gas pumps here. The gas station and convenience stores are totally separate entities. More on getting gasoline in Japan to come.

So, back to Bob — Anya had shared that Bob’s friend was found legs up in his box just a few days earlier. She had looked in on the beetle and told her son he looked funny. He was lying in a weird position. Her son responded, “Oh it’s no big deal. He always lies like that.” She responded, curiously, “He always lies on his back with his legs sticking up in the air?” There was a pause. “Oh,” her son finally said, “No, I guess he doesn’t actually lay like THAT.”

With this experience under their belts, they assured us if something happened to Bob, it would be ok. But, we were determined to keep Bob alive no matter what. We fed him diligently and looked in on him several times a day. And now that he’s gone, there’s a strange sadness hovering in our house.

I can’t help but wonder what cake I can get them when they return that says, “Sorry we couldn’t keep your bug alive?” Cozy Corner, here I come. I wonder how I ask for that in Japanese?

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