I knew that composting was going to be a mental exercise in extreme grossology when we started last month because I've read enough to know that composting and worms go hand-in-hand. But I think I was in denial when I was drilling holes in a brand new shiny trash can and then bunging in freshly-grated carrot peels and fluffy straw.
Then the other day my worst nightmare happened.
I went out to the compost bin and I heard it. That noise. That noise that makes your stomach go all squirly and flip-floppy and makes your arms break out in goosebumps. It's hard to describe it exactly - but it's the noise of worms… moving. It's kind of like the noise you hear if you thrust your hand into a bowlful of Jell-o and squish it between your fingers. Now if you are not a wormphobe, you can't appreciate the intense physical reaction that the worm-noise causes in a wormphobe. It's so visceral and primitive and there's nothing I can do to turn off my complete and utter revolt.
I knew that no matter what noise I was hearing, I still had to open the top to throw in the bagful of scraps I held, but if I opened the lid, I'd probably make eye contact with… "them."
"Them" is my worst worm nightmare. "Them" refers to the m-word that rhymes with faggot (and by faggot, I am obviously talking about the decorative stitch on my fancy sewing machine, thank you very much). When I was a kid on the beach one day around sunset I heard that noise for the first time and glanced over to see something moving along on the sand. When I walked over to see what it was, it was a fish completely alive with m-words, seemingly undulating across the sand. I think I showered six times that day and I'm still scarred by it 20 years later.
I took off the lid to the compost bin the way I always do. It's done in such a graceful way that I'm always glad no one is watching. I spring off the bungee cord and hang it on the fence. Then I step as far back from the can as possible and reach my arm over to the far side of the lid. When I've got a good grip I fling the lid off, opening it up toward me and hop like mad about 15 steps backward. This ensures that the millions of little compost-loving flies that live inside won't shoot up my nose and suck out my brain. But you knew that.
Then I stood there wondering if I could toss in the scraps from where I was standing, but I didn't like the idea of touching the slimy scraps with my hand either. So I walked a few steps closer and tried very hard not to look, but you have to look to make sure those brain-sucking flies aren't mounting a nasal assault. Then I saw it. Wriggling, writhing, undulating, segmented light-colored vile creatures of the compost bin. I can only assume they were the m-word, but I didn't stick around long enough to do a complete scientific analysis.
You need to know that because of the worm issue our compost bin hasn't been rolled around the yard to mix it up like we intended. I can't bear the thought of some cylindrical biological being slipping out from one of those holes and somehow making contact with me - if not the being, then one of its…its…its...ugh…eggs.
Maybe I wasn't put on this earth to compost, but dammit I'm trying. It might not be pretty and it might make me feel girlier than anything else in my life, but we'll continue to chuck scraps into the bin with the hopes of one day making our own black gold. Let's just hope that this is all worth it when I eventually get my therapy bill.