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Women are known for their own accomplishments today. It may seem peculiar, therefore, for me to write about my life from the focal point of what my husband does for a living. But certain callings influence one's life more dramatically than others. For instance, the wife of an astronaut has more to be concerned with than traffic on the highway when her husband travels. And she may have an exciting career of her own, but about what do you think people most often converse with her? I think you can see my point. So here I am--married to an entomologist.
The first hurdle for me in any casual conversation is the standard question, "And what does your husband do?" Over my 20 years of marriage, I have developed several responses to that question. If I want to impress someone, I simply say, "He's a scientist." If I have a lot of time to explain, I tell them that he is an entomologist. Fewer than 50 percent of the pool of inquirers I have encountered know what an entomologist is. I usually respond to the puzzled looks with the comment, "A bug man." Then the fun begins.
For those with good imaginations, images of spiderman or the human fly may spring to mind. For others, pest control commercials may be the only mental connection. Many inquirers have been dumbfounded by the notion that someone could actually earn a living studying insects--who would pay for such a thing? What would he do all day?
I have also met some curious individuals who have wondered out loud what type of person might be drawn into a lifetime of insect study. Some smirk, no doubt imagining an unkempt young man with net slung over one shoulder, tapeholding together the frames of his glasses and a Bic collection stuffed in his shirt pocket. Well, to those of you who choose to judge and stereotype in this fashion I have one thing to say. Yes, some entomologists do fit that description. Yet the professional membership of the ESA (Entomology Society of America) includes all genders, temperaments, and personality types. Some entomology professionals did start out with a childhood fascination with insects. Others may have chosen entomology after failing their medical school exams. Anyway, I can vouch for the fact that many entomologists are regular people. In fact, if you saw one on the street without his or her sweep net or collection jars, you probably would not be able to distinguish him or her from a plumber or an air traffic controller. Some are even athletic. My husband played on a baseball team with his entomology department cohorts in college. They were great at catching flies.