I came home from work the other night to find my wife huddled with our daughter on the living room couch, gazing at the far wall as if an ax murderer were standing there with a chainsaw.
"Where is it?" I said.
"On the wall," my wife said, pointing fearfully. "Over the window."
I turned to look at the window. "Where?" I said, frustrated.
"Closer to the corner."
I scanned the top of the wall, focusing on the area where it meets the ceiling and the adjoining wall.
Then I saw it. I shook my head.
You see, I expected this. I had called ahead.
On the way home, I had stopped at the neighborhood supermarket to pick up a couple of things, and I called the house to find out if we needed anything else.
"You've got to come home right now!" my daughter cried over the phone.
"Why?" I said.
She told me, and I paused for a moment. I asked her if I had heard her correctly. She repeated the problem, and I told her I'd be home soon.
But I took my time at the supermarket as I considered my wife's and our daughter's dilemma.
You see, my wife is a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman.
She gets up every morning at 4 to work out at the gym. Then she goes to work for 10 hours a day, comes home and cooks dinner. Sometimes she does the laundry, cleans the kitchen, even mows the lawn.
Our daughter, who is 21 and living with us as she attends graduate school, shares her mother's sense of independence and self-sufficiency. She works every day and goes to school at night.
All in all, they are two fine examples of modern womanhood. Most times, I don't think they need me. Except in times like this.
Because perched high on the living room wall near the ceiling was the thing that had turned my wife and our daughter into a pair of cowering damsels in distress for the past 30 minutes.
And I am … "The Bug Killer."
"It looks like a piece of dust to me," I said.
"It's not!" my daughter shot back. "It's creepy and crawly, with lots of legs. We saw it crawling on the wall."
I looked at it again. "Well, it looks like it died in a piece of dust on the wall."
"Don't talk about it! Do something!" (I'm not sure which one of them said that.)
I looked around the living room for something to stand on to reach the bug, and my daughter decided to leave the room, ostensibly to empty the trash cans around the house, but I suspect she had another reason. Escape.
You see, even though I am "The Bug Killer," I have been known to show off the captured insect before depositing it in a deep trash bin or flushing it down a toilet.
I've been accused of trying to "scare" people with the bugs I catch, but I assure you that my motives are pure. I simply want to show them that the bug has been nabbed and there's no need for any more upset. (Although a little more upset usually makes me laugh. And if you run, I'll chase you.)
So I balanced atop a piece of furniture as my wife watched my every move, not out of concern that I might fall but that I might miss the bug, which would then start crawling across the wall again.
Just as I reached out to catch the creepy-crawler, my daughter screamed downstairs.
Her shriek made me topple a bit, and I brushed the bug from the wall. It fell, motionless, on top of a side table.
"Eek! Now it's on the loose!" my wife shrieked.
"On the loose?" I said, regaining my balance. "What was it when it was on the wall? Tied down?"
Meanwhile, my daughter was yelling about how the cricket was hopping toward her and asking me what she should do.
"Don't talk about it! Do something!" I said. (Yes, that did feel good.)
In the end, I picked up bug and flushed it (right after I tried to show it to my wife), and I attempted to catch the cricket, which got away.
"The Bug Killer" had saved the day, once again.
I didn't have the heart to tell them the bug had died in a piece of dust on the wall.
I just hope they don't read my column this week.
The economy. Health care reform. Unemployment.
There's a lot of misery in Washington these days, and — let's face it — it's all because of the Washington Redskins.
It's something like swine flu. The way these guys use the pigskin is making a lot of people around here sick. The symptoms don't include fever but a cold, lonely sense of disappointment.
Lots of nausea.
In the first six weeks of the NFL season, the Redskins played six winless teams and tallied two wins and four losses. The Skins lost to teams that hadn't won a game since the Bush administration — the first one.
In the '90s.
I think one of the opposing teams had a quarterback who gets around in a wheelchair. Sure, it's motorized — but it's still a wheelchair. And it was a level playing field.
The Skins motto has become, "If you're a loser, we can make you a winner."
Their motto had been, "If you think your team is bad, we can change your mind."
But at least there's some good news for Redskins fans: The Skins don't have to face any more winless teams for the rest of the season. So the pressure is off. Whew!
Still, the NFL plans to publish an announcement this week: The Redskins are the team to beat this year. Often.
• You can reach Carleton Bryant at 202/636-32128 and cbryant@washington times.com — but only if you don't bug him.