If you stopped by yesterday, you learned that an errant lightning bug had somehow managed to navigate its way all the way from my back patio to my bedroom, where it then dive bombed my head and settled onto my computer desk. On the desktop, I noticed how his left wing twitched—he tried but he couldn’t seem to get airborne again. Figuring he was damaged goods, I scooped him up and named him Philip and dropped him into an empty Poland Spring bottle, all in that order. I was too lazy to take him back outside, and figured I’d see how he was doing in the morning.
As promised, I will now update you on the situation with Philip. The update is: I set him free! It was such a tender moment! There was heartwarming music playing and everything. I laughed. I cried. Remember the movie “Free Willy” when the whale jumps over the kid in order to escape captivity and the kid’s all happy about it? That was me when Philip crawled slowly onto the patio table and, after a pregnant pause, fluttered his wings and ascended a whopping four inches to find the bobbing leaf of a potted fern, where he remained for hours.
You want details? Here’s how it went down. I unscrewed the bottle cap, and, with Philip clinging to it, I placed it on the table. I pretended it was like a little escape pod for him. At first I didn’t think he was going to fly.
And he didn’t launch, not at first. He climbed out of the bottle cap and took a stroll on the table top to stretch his legs. For me, it felt like when you take a cat outside and let it just sit there and soak in all the mad chaos of the colorful world beyond the screen door. Philip didn’t seem to know where to go or what to do.
It’d been a full 24 hours since he’d last seen the outside. He’d gotten so used to his Poland Spring condominium, I wasn’t sure he could ever reintegrate into the real world. He was like Morgan Freeman getting released from Shawshank prison—lost and scared and possibly considering hanging himself. It could have gone either way. To be honest, I was kind of happy. After writing a whole blog post about him yesterday, I felt like me and him had something going on. It was easy to imagine a whole week, or even month, of blog posts related to our computer desk adventures.
After he launched and landed on the fern, I knew that I’d be losing a dear, dear friend. In denial, I scrambled for excuses to keep him anyway. Perhaps he was away from his lightning bug clan for so long, they would no longer recognize him when he showed back up into familiar airspace. They would beat him and cast him out in the same spirit as when a mama bird kills her own baby bird once she smells some human on it.
Yet I knew he’d live far longer bobbing and weaving on the cool breeze of the summer dusk than he would in the hollow, humid silo that was his Poland Spring condo. Plus, I liked the idea of him getting “back in the game” and finding a mate and having kids, and then his kids having kids. And in this way his DNA would probably even outlive my own.
The story of his brief encounter with the Giant would be passed down orally through the generations. This same story, btw, would likely be the thing that got him laid in the first place. In which case you could say that I’d helped Philip get laid, probably many times over, with many different lighting bug babes. I was his wingman.
Anyway, once Philip landed on the fern, I hung around for a while waiting for the big moment when he launched again, this time disappearing into the vast expanse of the yard. I never happened. Not on my watch. What he did was he just stayer there on the leaf. Didn’t move. It was as if he was too sad to leave his new mama. I went inside and did some things and I came out an hour later and still, there he was! Hadn’t moved a muscle. I had to jostle him to see if he was still alive. He was.
And then it occurred to me. What was going on was real bonafied science! There was nothing wrong with Philip; he was doing what all lightning bugs do during the heat of the day: hanging out on a random leaf somewhere waiting for the coolness that comes with the night. Philip was literally going to sit there on his ass until it started to get dark, and then he’d take a shower and brush his teeth and go try and get laid. Exactly like an unwed human male!
Science! I had always wondered how lightning bugs occupied themselves during the day—and Philip’s parting gift was to finally give me the answer: they boringly wait for the dark!
At some point, a few hours later, I came back outside to check up on Philip, but he was no longer there. He’d flown the coop, likely in search of an even better, more well-shaded leaf on which to wait out the daylight. I looked off into the yard and gave a John Wayne-esque “goodbye” nod to the trees, and I went back inside to do what I always do on the weekend: sit around and wait for the night, just like my pal Philip.
Philip is free. He’s out there right now, waiting for later. Waiting for the night. Waiting for his time to shine. He’s thinking of what he’s going to wear, what he’s going to say. He’s had quite a life, has quite the story, he’s positively glowing with confidence. I’m pretty sure he’s going to pull some really bright firefly tail tonight.
Read my first post about Philip here: The Lightning Bug That Tried SO Hard to Get Captured