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Good People of the Internet.

It’s late at night, my kids are sleeping, my husband is playing around with a 3D model of the Ghostbusters logo in Blender. The prompt is “How to,” and I am back at my keyboard to tell y’all…

How to get accused of performing a weird ritual in public.

All you need to do to get accused of performing a weird ritual in public is to be with a group of people doing something other than looking at your phone.

This happened to me twice in the past couple of weeks. The first time, my kids and I were looking at a dead moth on the ground. Okay, typing that out, this story is starting out pretty weird but hear me out. My kid is into bugs. There’s an app called iNaturalist , and you can take pictures of bugs and animals and stuff and scientists at the other end will ID your finds and use them for their research. It’s cool, if you’re into that kind of thing.

So. This dead moth was HUGE, and we were taking a picture for the app and put a penny down for scale. A guy came up to us and asked, “Is that a thing? Putting pennies down for dead butterflies?”

And I said “No, but it totally should be.”

He followed that up with “Well, I had to see what you were doing. It looked like a weird ritual or something.”

And I said “It’s a ritual of science.” And we kind of nodded at each other in a moment of mutual understanding and he told me to post about pennies for butterflies on the internet and make it a thing, so I did.

Now you know. Go make it a thing.

The second accusation came while I was doing a puzzle with my family while camping in Kings Canyon National Park. The guy staying in the cabin up the hill from us had been watching us for a while and had to come over and see what we were doing because—as I’m sure you’ve caught on—it looked like we were performing a ritual.

We all looked at each other, confused, told him we were just doing a puzzle together and went back to assembling the custom puzzle my parents had printed up of my kids’ faces photoshopped into penguin costumes walking cats with old lady faces.

Clearly, sir, you are the weirdo for assuming that we were doing anything strange or ritualistic.

To be fair, neither of these men were wrong. I am absolutely the type of person that you should accuse of performing a weird ritual. I’ve done it in the past (what up Mountain Spirit, miss you buddy!) and probably will again in the future. But I would never do it in public like that. Come on.

Rituals are best saved for the full or new moon. I thought everyone knew that.

So that’s it. Hopefully you picked up some helpful hints on how to track biodiversity in your neighborhood and help real scientists do real research while simultaneously sketching out the random strangers who might be watching you.

Over and out, Internet. Over and out.

Jennifer Racusin

Jennifer Racusin is a writer with a runaway imagination, an artist making huge bird puppets, and a teacher teaching the future how to think.

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