Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Peek Inside the Stink Bug Think Tank

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Peek Inside the Stink Bug Think Tank

Article excerpt

A front-page story in this newspaper last week reported that the stink bug invasions that Western Pennsylvanians had come to hate were much less common this year.

We sent a Morning File correspondent to the stink bug headquarters to investigate. He filed the following report:

I walked in, notepad in hand, and the first thing I noticed was the overpowering stench. A stink bug media flack escorting me to their oval office apologized, explaining that a heartless, intolerant teenager had wiped out an entire delegation of lamp- buzzers that morning.

I persevered, having survived assignments of similar harshness in Somalia and Kosovo. I was then welcomed by the stink bug ambassador to humans, who invited me to take a seat and observe as though I were a fly on the wall.

"What if I act like a stink bug on the wall? Just leave a light on for me," I drawled, hoping to get a big laugh. No one smiled, and that's when I realized that serious business was afoot.

Some wonky stink bug then gave a report on the species' local numbers that sounded even worse than the collapse of Pittsburgh's human population in the 1980s -- right down to the part where he said you could fire a cannon down the main drags in Braddock and McKeesport today without hitting a stink bug.

Afterward, no one said anything or moved for a long time. I watched and waited ... and waited ... and waited.

Just as I was about to conclude that stink bugs are the most boring living objects I'd ever come across -- other than some of the people on a public access channel -- the stink bug president moved from a window and addressed one of his aides.

"What are our polling numbers hereabouts?" he wanted to know.

"Not good," said the stink bug who evidently managed their media operations.

"If there's some public support for us, I can go to the local foundation community or universities, make a pitch for some research studies, and have the academics figure out what we need to get boosted back to normal population levels. Really, now, how low can our popularity be?"

The pollster didn't hesitate. "If our positive rating was one point higher, we'd be right where Rick Santorum was in Shadyside before he dropped out of the presidential race. …

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