I’m Bret Stephens, And In My House, You’d Better Smack My Wife On The Belly Before You Call Me A Horse Fly

Cara Michelle Smith
Aug 28 · 4 min read
(Photo by David Smooke on Unsplash)

New York Times’ columnist Bret Stephens … flew off the handle on Dave Karpf, a professor for George Washington University who called him a “bedbug.” …. Karpf posted a screenshot of an email he received from Stephens, which challenged the professor to “come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face.” -Mediaite, 8/27/2019


In my house, you’ll have to share several ham foldovers with my wife and kids before you call me a centipede.

In my house, you’ll have to smack my wife on the belly before you call me a horse fly.

In my house, you’ll have to stand in my foyer and share your honest-to-God thoughts about my homemade potpourri before you’re allowed to call me a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Roaches will survive the apocalypse. I couldn’t survive eight hours of quippy criticism! Boom. That’s zero points in the “Bret Stephens is a roach” category, and one point in the “Bret Stephens seems like a sane, sensitive guy” category.

These are not my brothers! (Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash)

Things work a little differently in La Casa de Stephens. We’re a free speech household, because I value free speech, and not just when it’s convenient for me. We’re also a capitalist household, which means nothing is free, everything has a price, and even “free” things require you to meet a set of demands before you can participate in them.

One of my demands? Don’t call me a fucking bug!

Want to call me a tarantula? If you want to do that, I’ve got two words for you: don’t!

Thinkin’ about calling me a stink bug? Why don’t you try walking my Bichon Frise and watching Succession with my wife first? If you do all that, and you still want to call me names, then guess what: it’s still not cool to call someone a stink bug!

You think the average Gawker spawn or HuffPo twerp knows discipline? I don’t. My kids know discipline. They learned it the old fashioned way: by having their daddy dump ice cold water over their heads if they dared to call me an arachnid.

Spiders lay eggs. I’ve never laid an egg in my goddamn life — and I don’t intend to!

Think I’ve ever created a spiderweb? Think again! (Photo by Shahid Shaikh on Unsplash)

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is Bret Stephens super freaked out by bugs?”. Here’s the question you should really be asking: how many awards has Bret Stephens won? Bret Stephens has won a Pulitzer Prize. Bret Stephens won the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. Bret Stephens has lungs, a liver, and five hundred and fifty glorious eyelashes — things that prove, once and for all, that he is not a bug!

Think a ladybug could win a Pulitzer Prize? Congratulations: your brain’s broke!

I still remember the worst argument my wife and I ever had. We were lying in bed together, playfully bickering over whether Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand would be cream or alabaster, when I let slip that I’d watched the most recent episode of Billions without her. She called me a liar. I called her a jerk. She called me an ass. I called her a jerk again. She called me a Calleta silkmoth caterpillar. I collapsed instantly and woke up 72 hours later, tears streaming down my face, in utter disbelief that my wife uttered one of my forbidden words.

It’s really not that complicated. Braid my wife’s hair if you want to call me a titan beetle. Make my wife some piping hot stew if you’re thinkin’ about calling me a treehopper. You can call me a toad, a pig, a snake, the perfect encapsulation of fragile masculinity, or a hypocritical free-speech advocate who only supports things based on self-preservation,.

But if you’re thinking about calling me a red-fanged funnel spider? Sounds like you’ll be treating my wife to some of your finest hand-rolled tortellini!

Because in my house, you can say whatever you want about climate change — and not a damned thing about horse flies!


Cara Michelle Smith is a comedy and humor writer in Chicago. Her work has been featured on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Reductress and The Rumpus, among other publications. You can harass her on Twitter here, so long as you do it creatively. Check out her full portfolio here.

Cara Michelle Smith

Written by

Cara Michelle Smith is a comedy writer and journalist. You can harass her on Twitter at @Cara_Smith5, so long as you do so creatively.

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