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Ask the Monkey: Barnum

Dear The Monkey,

I think I swallowed a moth in my sleep. There was an antenna and/or leg on my lip when I looked in the mirror this morning. Should I be concerned? I sleep with my mouth wide open at night and it has gotten me thinking about just how much wildlife has met its demise while I slumber. I am not “creeped out” by the idea, but I do feel some remorse. Any advice/penance?

Sincerely, Barnum

The Monkey Responds:

It is interesting that you mention penance, Barnum, as penance was precisely the motive for this moth’s kamikaze plunge into your digestive system. You need not feel remorse. If you must feel any way about it, feel lucky, for you have been an unwitting participant in one of nature’s littlest-known phenomena.

Moths are, of course, best known for their appetite for fabric. The world over, they are cursed by humans for chewing holes in sweaters and socks, briefs and bustiers. What few people realize is that moths are among a small number of species that has a natural capacity for shame, of which they feel plenty for the instinctual imperative that is their taste for textile. The moth’s shame is incalculably tremendous, so far beyond the scope of human shame that it has inspired entire cultures to achieve its magnitude (the Japanese sense of honor and the Catholic sense of guilt both originated in response to the “challenge” of the moth).

And so it is with no small gesture that the moth must atone for its perceived sins. Most commonly, it will fly out into the open toward a light source, so as to be quickly illuminated, identified, and disposed of. However, it is under the circumstances of an unconscious, gaping maw like yours that the moth is offered an ideal opportunity to truly pay its debt. Acutely aware of the potency of its unique Vitamin C gland, the moth aims to benefit the prospective owner of a victimized wardrobe by allowing itself to be consumed and its nutrients to be absorbed.

This is what the moths have done for you, Barnum. They have afforded you a lifetime supply of Vitamin C. The next time you are complimented on your exceptional skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, or blood vessels, remember who you have to thank.