the prognosis for the child who routinely introduces animals to kitchen aid appliances, lawn equipment, or the u-bend behind your toilet bowl is probably not going to attain high office at the united nations. rather, these profiles represent the budding antisocials more familiar with quilting a throw out of your intestines (to wrap your still warm corpse in, before abandonning it in the nearest landfill), than fretting about bombings in belfast, saving the monarch butterfly, or kim jong il's agenda for the next 6 months.
as adults, it is normal-- often desireable if you have a very "girly" significant other (x or y chromosome)-- to posess the skills necessary for stomping on spiders, cockroaches, and ants the size of grapefruit. as children, we make do with the cards, and regional critters, we are dealt, in order to develop these lifelong skills to either maintain an intimate relationship or secure admission to medical school. i become quite maudlin when thinking about 6, 7, 9 and 11 year old me engaging in the kinds of activities that any recycled paper membership card carrying constituent of PETA worth their organic, free range, vegetarian salt would be come enraged at-- albeit in a peaceful, kumbaya sort of way. so while there was a little less incineration of creepy crawlies under magnifying glasses or smacking of fireflies with baseball bats going on, my brother and i were able to entertain ourselves adequately with what the red sea and persian gulf had to offer.
in saudi arabia we enjoyed collecting shells washed up or scuttling onto the beach; those that walked were assiduously evicted from their homes. the shoreline also yielded the more seasonal crop of 'marooned jellyfish', which we harvested by the frisbee load to assemble onto driftwood kebabs. sea cucumbers fascinated us foremost because of their poo; they eat sand, which passes through a single intestine, to be expelled in a more refined state out of an anus that is shaped like a cake decorating nozzle, thus forming a perfect little flower that could bring a french pastry chef to his knees. sea cucumbers also have a unique, but nifty defense against prey and 8 year olds trying to pluck flower turds from their bottoms. instead of changing colour or shooting out volts of electricity, they eject an artillery of something that looks like silly string and ramen noodles. we, of course, attempted to initiate this reflex by treating them more like empty tubes of toothpaste. when not performing enemas on sea cucumbers, we kept ourselves busy practicing advanced amputation techniques. and while they were typically not repeat patrons, the brittle starfish was a favourite because the detached "point" would continue to wriggle for several minutes in our hands.
moving to the desert inland we shifted our focus to arachnids and reptiles. i had been warned from the age of 9 about the hazards of camel spiders and scorpions seeking refuge in my shoes, although i did not have my first foot/scorpion encounter for another 10 years, when i was cleaning out buckets of flot at an archaeological dig. word had obviously travelled to the other side of the arabian peninsula by that time, because he disappeared under a rock before i could get a long (very long) and pokey stick to turn him into a kebab. fortunately we didn't really have to leave the air conditioned environment of the house to find a couple of ghekkos that had taken up residence under the fridge. meal preparation was always a bit more exciting when mum was stirring the spaghetti bolognese and a scaly squatter sprinted through the gas burners, leaving a glowing tail behind him like cinderella's slipper. of course she should have been used to domestic and deadly drop-ins after her experience with a butcher knife and a black mamba that had smuggled itself into the kitchen in a bag of dog food when we were living in south africa. little did i know that part of my current job description would also include extermination.