Before Adam Sandler sold out and made Jack & Jill, he made some better movies like 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer, and Big Daddy.  And for whatever reason, the way the little boy in Big Daddy cutely mispronounces “caterpillar” has stayed with me, hence the title of tonight’s post.

So why did I name this Capertillars?  Because I saw a caterpillar today and I was instantly upset.

Despite the fact that probably my all-time favorite children’s book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I despise the way caterpillars’ bodies slink.  Nevermind that they usually turn into delicate butterflies, which I love.  I mean, nevermind that they’re the same darn creature in either form.  It doesn’t matter.  With their many pairs of legs fanning their long bodies out like a wave as they clamber across the sidewalk and up the trees, I can’t help but get the willies.

I think this all stems from a bizarre incident that happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old.  Each year for a few weeks, my neighborhood would get completely inundated by these small black caterpillars.  They’d be all over the sidewalk and I’d become weirdly OCD about not stepping on them or having them touch me.  Some of the kids from school would pick them up and let them crawl across their palms, but not me.  No way, Jose.  I was a bonafide chicken when it came to insects, even back then.

Feeling safe that the most recent influx of creepy crawlies had started waning, I returned home from school one day to find both my parents outside.  Dad was swearing and stomping.  Mom was waving from the front porch.  And covering the exterior of my house from sidewalk to doorframe were the thickest, flowiest, most terrifying caterpillars I’d ever seen.  About the size of my thumb, each giant black caterpillar had a flourescent yellow stripe down its back.

Dad was screaming disgustedly about goop coming out of them as he stomped on them and Mom was gesturing for me to come inside.  I couldn’t move.  I was frozen in my tracks.  I couldn’t take one step forward, lest the goop “get” me or a caterpillar fell on my head.  I literally think it took the better side of an hour to get me in the house.  I nearly had a tantrum out of intense fear.  I just knew that the one giant caterpillar over the door was going to flop off and touch me.

It did not.

Maybe it would have been better if it had because to this day, I still jump and shiver when I see a caterpillar.  And I get how the whole caterpillar to butterfly life cycle thing works.  It’s the same insect.  Yet I still hold out my hand to each beautiful butterfly I see.  Go figure.

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