Do you know the story of Cyrano de Bergerac? I love that story…it is one of my favourites. It is just so bittersweet and sad, so perfectly written. And I relate to Cyrano, as I also have a nose that “precedes me by five minutes.”
An artist’s rendition (not mine), courtesy of photo.net: “I am bombastic and timid; ugly and beautiful; brave and cowardly; poet and swordsman: all at the same time”
In the story, Cyrano falls in love with “the fairest of the fair,” but he is so sure that she could never love him back, that he chooses not to tell her. Soon, she falls in love with a dashing, handsome character, a friend of Cyrano’s. To help them both, Cyrano aids his handsome, but lackwitted, friend to woo the girl.
The most famous, and oft-repeated scene, where Cyrano whispers the lines his friend uses to woo the girl, courtesy of photographersdirect.com
I had my own Cyrano moment not too long ago. I had a friend (not at all lackwitted, by the way!), who was trying to woo a girl who studied termites. We were both in Queensland at the time and, as you may or may not know, Queensland is home to the largest termite in the world, Mastotermes darwiniensis.
Mastotermes darwiniensis, the workers are pale, the soldier has big jaws and a dark head, photo courtesy of ento.csiro.au
So, there was nothing he could want more than to take home a specimen of this termite for his girl. (Isn’t that sweet!?) He turned to me, the bug geek, for help.
The problem was that the range of the termite didn’t extend far enough south. We were in Brisbane, and the termite lived hundreds of kilometers to the north. We couldn’t just walk out the door and find some termites. Saddened, he gave up, thinking there was no chance of acquiring this gift.
That is when the gears in my brain started turning.
I started contacting local entomologists and museums to see whether they had any specimens. I played up the nerdy entomologist card, saying how great it would be to have the largest termite in the world for my insect collection (I don’t actually keep a proper collection, shame on me!).
You cannot imagine how excited I was when a local museum replied with an email that said that they not only had M. darwiniensis in their collection, but that they had live specimens.
I set up a meeting date in an undisclosed location (it felt very undercover, haha), all the while keeping my efforts secret from my friend, who had given up on the whole idea.
I met with the entomologist, who gave me a vial with about 20 workers and soldiers. I tried to contain a squeal of excitement. He was very amused, but he didn’t realise that the source of my excitement was not the termite itself (although they were pretty cool), but the idea of the perfect gift.
I left a vial of termites on my friend’s desk while he was away.
When he returned…the look on his face was PRICELESS. “B-but…h-how…” he stuttered, flabbergasted, “How did you get these?”
“Just some connections, you know,” I said smugly.
Maybe you think this was just a simple thing, but I still think it was one of the best things I have ever done. I felt so useful, so crafty! Aiding and abetting in a mission of love (involving termites).
courtesy of bonzasheila.com