This Throwback Thursday post harkens back to my college days. Age aside, I think I technically qualified as a non-traditional student. After the first year spent living on campus (first semester in a dorm, second in married student housing), we moved into my father-in-law’s house because he had moved to another state and the house was available rent free. What college student can pass that up?
The downside was that it was almost an hour from campus, but gas in a Civic was cheaper than rent so we moved. Another downside, I was soon to learn, was the presence of scorpions. The house was nestled on 10 acres down in a valley full of trees in a remote, rural area with virtually no neighbors visible from the house. It was a beautiful place. Except for the scorpions.
My mother-in-law had told me about how she had gotten into the habit of shaking out her clothes and checking her shoes before putting them on – just to make sure no scorpions were there. I never got in the habit of doing this and was fairly lucky that the lack of doing so never got me stung.
One calm afternoon found me sprawled across our bed, stomach down, arms spread out around my head, enjoying a drowsy pseudo-nap. The windows were open (no air conditioning) and the breeze blew comfortably across me. At one point, I felt the hairs on the back of the hand closest to the window move.
It’s just the breeze moving the hairs, I told myself. I rebelled against the thought because it sure felt like something was crawling on me. Open your eyes and look, I said, willing myself not to panic over nothing. My face was toward that hand. The hand was, in fact, mere inches from my face. I calmed myself, convinced that it was just the wind, and then lazily opened my eyes, intending to verify what I knew to be true and then return to my pleasant slumber.
Instead, I gazed upon the scorpion crawling across the back of my hand. I have never been that close to one before and hope never to be again. I screamed and threw my hand away from me. The scorpion went flying across the room. I stood on the bed yelling for my husband to come find and kill the pest. It had, of course, scurried away. Needless to say, I was unable to return to my state of rest.
We would find them everywhere. In the bathtub. In the dogs’ food bowls. In the sink. One day, as I prepared to leave the house to go study with a friend who also lived an hour from campus, I noticed one in the kitchen sink. Because I am a wise and resourceful woman, I seized the opportunity to scald it to death. I turned on the water as hot as it would go and moved the extendable faucet head to focus that terrible watery heat on my foe.
After a sufficient period of time, I turned off the water. The scorpion did not move. Success, I told myself. To my husband, who was in the living room watching TV, I said, “I just killed a scorpion in the sink. Will you please dispose of it?”
“Sure,” he said.
When I returned several hours later, I checked the sink. The scorpion was gone. I thanked the husband who was still watching TV in the living room. He responded defensively with, “Hey! I’m sorry! I forgot! You don’t have to get all ugly about it!”
My skin went cold. I glanced at the sink and then all around me. “You mean you didn’t throw away a dead scorpion?”
That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps you can’t adequately scald a hardy insect with an exoskeleton. At least, not if death of the insect is your goal.
Yet another day saw us outside. I was sitting on the front porch reading an assignment for school. He was doing some sort of yard work. The porch was obscured from the road – a very private place. It was still a surprise when he walked up on to the porch, turned his back to me, and pulled down his pants.
It quickly became apparent that he was not being kinky, when he said, “Do you see that red spot on my leg?”
I looked and confirmed that I did.
“I think there might be something in my pants. Can you check? I think something may have just stung me.”
With that, I put down my book and gingerly pulled on the edge of his jeans to get a better look. When I did so, a scorpion scurried out of one of the pant legs toward me.
Now, the calm and appropriate response would have been to swiftly brush the scorpion out of his pants. And if I was quick enough, stomp it dead. That’s what he would have done had the roles been reversed.
But the roles were not reversed. And I am rarely calm and appropriate when faced with a surprise such as this one. No, I jumped back from him, knocking over my chair, and screeched, “There’s a SCORPION in your pants!!”
This news, or perhaps the manner in which it was delivered, sent him into a panic. He began to stomp around the porch, slapping at his pants and yelling, “Get it out! Get it out!”
He was really in a predicament since he was wearing Cowboy boots and the only way to remove the pants would require him to first pull them up more so he could take the boots off. Pulling them up would be a good way to get the scorpion back in contact with his skin.
Fortunately, I saw the scorpion fall or jump out shortly thereafter and was able to yell the all-clear before he stumbled head first off the porch. For reasons that I fail to understand, he was a bit cross with me. He knows who he married. He should not expect calm in the face of such stress. I can be calm and level-headed through many different trials and tribulations. But if it involves a creepy crawly, forget it. I’m out.