Friday, August 19, 2011

The Scorpion Story

We're in a horrible drought here in Texas. It's the driest summer on record. Lawns are brown and crunchy (well, except for the lawns of the people who stubbornly ignore the watering limitations - like we can't tell!). People stay indoors as if it were winter on the Great Lakes.

Another thing that happens in a drought is that critters start quite literally coming out of the woodwork to find water anywhere they can. Last week a neighbor said that she saw a coyote walking down her street. There was a report on the news about a wild fox and a kitten sharing a drink at a backyard watering bowl. I was reminded of the time that we had an unwanted visitor in our front room. This is a post from April of 2008.


I really wanted to be on time for my yoga class. I hate missing the warm-up. We were on track to just make it! I called again for Princess while I filled my water bottle at the sink. I heard her bounce down the stairs. There was a pause. Then what I can only describe as a vocal siren.

"ooooooOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! SSSSSCCCCCCOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRPIOOOOOON!!!!!"

I will try to describe the chaos, but . . . like any good comedy, you just had to be there.

Princess came running full tilt through the living room to the back door. As she passed Buddy, he jumped on the loveseat and immediately started sobbing. Princess grabbed the doorknob, then let go (still screaming - I think she may have a future in horror movies), then ran two or three steps, then ran back to the back door. Buddy was jumping up and down on the loveseat, sobbing loudly. I came around the counter to where Princess was quite literally running in circles screaming. It was like the Marx Brothers meet Wes Craven.

Me: Calm down, Baby. Calm down. What's going on?
Princess: (still screaming in the Mariah Carey range) A SCORPION!!!! IN THERE!!!! (she pointed to the front room)
Buddy: (loud sobs alternating with small yelps)
Me: Okay, okay. I've got it.

I walked in the front room and, sure enough, there in the middle of the hardwood floor was a scorpion. It was mad as a hornet (sorry) and just looking for someone or something to sting. It made me wonder if scorpions can hear.

Me: Okay, Baby. I'll get it.
Princess: I STEPPED ON IT! I STEPPED ON IT!
Me: Where?!?!? Did it get you? Are you okay?
Princess: I'M FINE! I HAVE MY SHOES ON! BUT I STEPPED ON IT! AND I ALMOST TOUCHED IT! WAAAAAAAHHHHHH! (I found out later that after she stepped on it she thought that it was one of Buddy's toys and almost picked it up. It moved just as she was about to touch it.)
Buddy: (now only whimpering)
Me: I'm going to get it. It's okay.

I went and got the flyswatter. I thought about squashing the thing with my shoe, but the shoe I was wearing had a textured sole. All I needed was to have it wriggle into a crevasse and come out even madder.

I do need to pause here and tell about my one and only scorpion sting. It was the night before my birthday a few years ago. I had just gotten a cup of hot tea and was walking back into the living room. As I sat down on the couch, I spilled a bit of the boiling hot tea on my ankle. Or so I thought. What had really happened is that I stepped on a scorpion's head. I was wearing slip-on house shoes that don't have a back, so it's tail came straight up and got me just below the ankle. It felt JUST like boiling hot water. Long story short - I wound up going to the ER because 1) my lips went numb and 2) the pain was incredibly intense and was not subsiding at all. Turns out I'm mildly allergic to scorpion venom. The sent me home with Vicodin and Benadryl. So I do freak out a bit at scorpions and will do almost anything to avoid them.

But I couldn't avoid this one. It was in our front room. In our HOUSE. What does Lady Macbeth say? Screw your courage to the sticking place? Yeah, right, Lady M. I don't think YOU ever stared down the business end of a scorpion!

As I made my way to the front room, I could hear Princess saying over and over, "I wish Daddy was here. I wish Daddy was here." I turned and smiled as I waved the flyswatter and said, "Me too!"

In the front room I had an awful thought. What if I brought the flyswatter down and somehow the scorpion grabbed it with its pincers and then when I brought the flyswatter back up I flung the horrible beastie onto my back? I honestly don't recall ever killing a scorpion (I always have someone else do it) so what if one whack wasn't enough to crush its armor? What if I had to beat it and beat it and it got madder and madder? I was working myself into what could have been a full-on freak-out. But you would be amazed how much bravery you can muster when two sets of trusting little tear-streaked eyes are on you. I brought the flyswatter up like a light saber and WHACK!

Scorpion's armor is really thin. They splat pretty good.

(I didn't wind up making the warm-up for the class, but I figure that the adrenaline surge burned one or two calories.)

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