Dear reader, let's all set our emergency swear vials safely out of reach, shall we? Because I'm about to tell you something which may cause you to forget your finer breeding, your delicate sensibilities.
Are we sitting up straight, sipping tea with our pinkies curled? Good, then I'll proceed...
Do not require dung to survive.
(cue glittering, coloratura laughter escalating to the verge of hysteria...)
Isn't that funny, dear reader? Doesn't that just make you want to die laughing?!
Did you, in your wildest dreams, imagine there might be a manual on how to raise dung beetles in the first place? That someone would have made it his life's mission to distill such pearls of wisdom, gleaned at his own effort and expense?
Well, there is such a manual and let me tell you, it tops my list of this year's recommended summer reads. To be sure, you might find yourself wishing you were fluent in Latin, since the writers apparently speak it like the ancient rulers of Rome, but they also mitigate their esoterica with gems like this:
You might imagine an animal that eats feces wouldn't be so picky, but most are careful connoisseurs of freshness and won't build nests with crap that's too old.
Do I need to get out more often, or is that pure comedy gold?
But the best part was when I got to the section entitled Chapter 6: Food and Bait, which I happened to be reading during Izzy's violin lesson, and which states as follows:
Most dung beetles will feed on the fluids from melon, beetle jellies, or even moistened dry dog food pellets if dung is not immediately available. The adults feed mostly on the fluids from dung in nature but only require dung in captivity for nest building.
I stopped and stared. I read and reread. I nearly broke about ten thousand glass vials, right in the middle of Izzy's lesson.
Dear reader, do you have any idea the extent to which my life has come to revolve around dung? Around its origin, quality, and freshness? Do you want to know the lengths I've gone to determine this, the ways and means of procurement which may or may not be legal but which certainly are not ladylike?!
I didn't think so. Bad enough I will be haunted by this knowledge for the rest of my life.
I will say this much: Tin Lizzie and Angel's enthusiasm for watermelon is nothing compared to their passion for dung. There's no getting around it.
But I don't always get what I want to eat, either.