All began well enough, but within a half hour of uphill walking my legs began their protests. While the others were pointing out this vista or that, I was pointing out the rest areas we were passing. Because no one seemed to get the hint, it was time to implement my plan.
“Aaah, Stan,” I wheezed while leaning against an old rotted stump. “What is this leafy, gasp! flowery thingy growing on this stump?”
As everyone came to a stop I could almost see Stan’s ego oozing from the corners of his wide grin. “Why that’s a Fernidilla Clairopactus. It’s in the fern family.”
“The hell,” I panted. “I figured it belonged to a family, but the fern family? Fascinating! Anything else you’d, gasp! like to add?” I ignored my wife’s groan behind me.
After another fifteen minutes of hiking….
“Hey, Anne,” I huffed, “what’s this bug on the side of this tree?”
My wife was the first to take a look. “That’s a potato bug, you nimrod!” she hissed into my ear. “What are you trying to do? This hike will take all day if you keep holding us up. And don’t give me that innocent dumb look either,”
“That happens to be my smug look, miss no-it-all, wheeze! Now listen to your sister. You might learn something.”
Upon inspection, Anne smiled knowingly. “You’re right, sis. That is a potato bug. Its scientific title is, Polectorititum Speculi. They’re usually found in moist and dark areas.”
“See,” I replied, “and you thought it was just any old run-of-the-mill potato bug. It’s a Polect..errrrrfffffttt…what ever Anne said. Thank you Anne. Your description was intriguing.” I then looked back to Maxine. “Now if you ever happen to need a potato bug you’ll know where to look. They’re in…er, wet dark places.”
“Yeah!” Maxine replied, attempting to keep her words in control. “like under any rock. Now do you mind if we make it to the waterfall in this life time?”
“Grrrr!” I replied.
The trail seemed to get steeper with every passing minute. After another half hour cramps had set up a base camp in my lower legs while doing commando raids on the rest of my body. My chest heaved as my lungs fought with the heart and other organs for more space to balloon. Finally I collapsed against a wind-fallen tree. “Aaahh, gasp! Anne, wheeze! What is this, gasp! insect that, pant! landed on my arm, gasp!”
“Once more everyone came to a stop. Anne patiently gave it a closer inspection. “Well, it’s a little difficult to say, seeing how you smashed it against your arm. But my guess would be it was a mosquito.”
“I’ll be, pant! darned. And what did you, pant! say the scientific name was?”
“Honey,” Maxine interrupted, “obviously you’ve taken a sudden and surprising interest in bugs and plants. So why don’t you stay here and study them while we finish the hike.”
“Well,” I wheezed, seeing her knowing smirk, “I was looking forward to seeing that waterfall. But how can one compare water falling over a cliff to possibly discovering a new specie of plant or bug. Who knows what species of…er, bug or plant I might discover. I’ll report any interesting finds. But first I think I’ll just sit on that log over there and have a Twinkie.”
As I watched them disappear out of sight I knew they had all seen through my ploy. If ever again cornered into making such a trek, I think I will barrow someone’s dog. They like to stop, sniff and pee on everything in sight, giving me a wonderful reason to stop for a breather. Or I could start exercising and get in better shape….Naaaaaaahhhh! I’ll barrow a dog.