When we were high school sophomores, we took biology. The class was long and boring, right before psychology.
Mr. Garrett was our teacher and had taught for many years. He’d taught some of our dads and was respected by his peers.
One day in Mr. Garrett’s class, we cut up big dead bugs. Grasshoppers, I think they were, preserved in gallon jugs.
They smelled of strong formaldehyde that made our noses run. And ‘cuz some of us were knuckleheads, we had to have some fun.
I looked at Jackson sitting there. I turned to him and said, “I’ll give you five whole dollars if you’ll eat that insect’s head.”
He said, “I’ll do one better, and I promise it for sure. I’ll eat the whole darn grasshopper for fifteen dollars more.”
That made it twenty dollars, and to us that was a bunch. But I had to see a person eat an arthropod for lunch.
So, we gathered up the twenty from the six of us, in all. We handed it to Jackson, and now it was his call.
He took the twenty dollar bills and wound them in a roll. Then he chomped down on the hopper’s head. I think it went down whole.
He crunched down next on wings and legs and didn’t even gag. Then I noticed one poor wide-eyed boy, puking in a bag.
In one huge bite he gobbled up the body, then he smiled. He’d seemed to take it all in stride. I’d never seen him riled.
It wasn’t long ‘fore Mr. Garrett said, “What’s all the fuss?” I think we all looked guilty. We’d been caught by that old cuss.
He looked at Jackson, then he said, “Where would your hopper be?” Jackson said, “I ate it, sir. Got another one for me?”
Mr. Garrett sighed and turned away. He walked back to his desk. Had he ever seen, in all his years, something that grotesque?
Jackson never told us ‘bout the grade he got that day. But if it had been up to me, I’d have given him an A.