Yaya and I had another go-round about scorpions today (although this time, thankfully, we were talking about theoretical scorpions and not actual scorpions that were being shaken in cups in front of my face). It all started when I explained to her that that it keeps me up at night to ponder the following data:
In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that a few weeks ago a nice friend at a baby shower told me that when she lived in France they had scorpions in their house and this never happened to her. At first her statement shattered my perception that scorpions always target people in beds at night. But then I had a delayed reaction in which I realized that she said this was in France. These are French scorpions. These are work/life balance scorpions. Maybe her experience indicates that not all scorpions are as inherently aggressive and creepy as I thought they were, or maybe les scorpions were en grève because the threadcount on her sheets wasn’t high enough. The data is inconclusive, hence it has been omitted from the chart.
Anyway, after taking a moment to ask if I seriously lie awake at night stressing out about things in chart form (yes, welcome to the world of a neurotic nerd), my mother-in-law gave me this look that all my Texan relatives give me when the subject comes up, a sort of bemused smile that says, “And the problem is…?” I wanted to react by sputtering hysterically, “And the problem is WAKING UP TO SCORPIONS STINGING ME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHILE I AM SOUND ASLEEP HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE WHAT THE PROBLEM IS THERE?!” but I decided to make a futile attempt to have a civilized dialogue on the subject, out of morbid curiosity if nothing else.
Yaya took this opportunity to explain to me that it is only because of my pampered middle-class lifestyle that I even worry about this. She offered some light stories from her childhood of scorpions attacking them in the course of daily life. “Those suckers sure would get us good every time we got on that tire swing!” she recounted with a chuckle. “And we didn’t worry about it when they got in our beds — you’d just brush ’em off if they got ya’ while you were sleeping.” She assured me that if I’d grown up in rural Texas in the days before fancy-schmancy houses with things like insulation and well-sealed walls, having a few scorpions in the bed here and there would be just a natural part of life for me.
This is not, of course, something I can prove empirically. But I am certain — like really, really certain — that under no circumstances would I ever be nonchalant about scorpions in my bed at night. Maybe I am missing some sort of gene that makes you chilled out about surprise nocturnal attacks by stinging arachnids, but I do not believe that my distress about this situation is due to lack of exposure to it.
Her next point — one that I’ve heard before and found no less perplexing this time than the first 100 times I heard it from other Texan relatives — was that scorpion stings are no worse than wasp stings. Really? And to think I was all stressed out about this! I mean, seriously, that was the only thing I was worried about, the toxicity level of the venom. Because, other than that, there is nothing at all disturbing about being woken from a peaceful slumber in the still of the night by an explosion of pain and realizing that there is a scorpion wrapped up in your pajamas, attacking you, repeatedly stinging you, and between the darkness and your delirious state you cannot immediately locate it to get it off of you. As long as it’s not worse than a wasp sting, that should be fine. …Oh, wait, no, that still sounds like a hellish nightmare.
At this point the conversation ended with me uttering a long, defeated sigh and Yaya needing to yell at someone named Billy Ray on her cell phone.
What I have found is this: if you don’t see what is disturbing about the idea of being stung by scorpions in bed at night, it is not something I can explain to you. I have tried repeatedly to show Yaya and my other Texan relatives my way of thinking on this, to find common ground in our different viewpoints, and I submit that it cannot be done. It is an unbridgeable gap.
At least I have a blog. Evidently if this ever does happen I will get no sympathy from my relatives about it; but hopefully, somewhere out there on the internet, I will be able to find at least one person who could see why I might be unsettled about scorpions in my bed.
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