Some people have asked if there was any one last straw that led to my sudden internet fast a couple of weeks ago. Others have asked for details about the nature of my hysterical tweets from the afternoon of Friday, October 2nd. In this post I shall address both inquiries.
The afternoon of Friday the 2nd started out perfectly lovely. I’d put my youngest two children down for naps and had set up my three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son for a little quiet time. All day I’d been drifting over to my computer, checking email here, reading blogs there, and I couldn’t wait to finish up all the things I’d started in my sporadic computer time throughout the day. Just as I was settling down into the couch and opening up my laptop, I heard the worst four words that could be uttered in this house:
“Look, mommy, a scorpion!”
My three-year-old daughter was pointing to a scorpion. That was about six inches away from her leg.
I tossed my computer onto the couch and jumped up to confirm that it wasn’t some new scorpion gag toy that some soon-to-be-ex friend had planted in the living room. Nay, it was real. And big — one of the largest scorpions we’ve seen in the house to date. I didn’t want the kids to panic, so I said, “Run! Run to the couch NOW NOW NOW before it stings you! Hurry! It’s going to get you! Run! AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!”
The commotion prompted the scorpion to saunter over to the middle of the living room floor. And this is where the story would end for most people. Most people’s internal dialogue would go something like:
“I will grab the nearest heavy object and drop it on the menacing arachnid.” Boom. “I’m glad that’s over with.”
But we’re talking about me, and nothing can be that simple, especially where scorpions are involved. My internal dialogue went something like:
“I will grab the nearest heavy object and drop it on the menacing arachnid. But WHAT IF IT DOESN’T WORK?! My ‘killing scorpions on carpet by dropping heavy things on them’ success rate is 0%! And what book should I use anyway? Is my husband’s Corporate Finance textbook big enough, or is this an Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary job? I know, I could ask the internet! If I want to seek advice from people on Twitter, how could I summarize this in 140 characters seeing as how I’m going to need AT LEAST 100 characters just for exclamation points?”
Meanwhile, as I was standing around analyzing my situation from every possible angle and thinking of how I could turn it into a clever tweet, the scorpion moseyed on over to a location under our long walnut buffet. This was bad. This was very bad. The buffet stands less than a foot above the carpet, making it impossible to get a book on top of the scorpion as long as it was under there. And then, just to make sure the suck-o-meter was dialed up to a 10, the scorpion crawled onto the side of a large book under the buffet.
The situation had gone from bad to worse. There was no way I could get it.
I seriously considered just staring at it for three hours until my husband got home from work, but the scorpion was headed toward the dreaded toy pit. To fully understand the ominousness of this trajectory, you first have to understand that my husband and I are both the only people of our generation to have children on both sides of our family. The result is that our children are blessed with many, many toys. Many. Like, I sometimes have dreams about frantically writing thank-you notes only to have dumptrucks overflowing with new packages addressed to my children come and pour their entire contents down upon me as I write. The result is that it looks like a Toys R Us exploded in the southwest corner of our living room; we’ve given up on fancy organizational techniques like throwing toys in boxes when the kids aren’t playing with them, and just kind of rake everything over to one part of the living room at the end of the day.
And I knew that if the scorpion made it into the toy pit, it would be all over.
“All over” as in I would never in a thousand years be able to find it, and if I did it would undoubtedly involve being stung. “All over” as in despite all my “ha ha I’m moving” jokes I would NEVER SET FOOT IN THIS HOUSE AGAIN if that scorpion got lost in the toy pile. I had to get it.
“I have GOT to get this thing before it goes into the toys and I lose it and then it stings one of us when we least expect it!” I thought it a blind panic. To calm myself down, I decided to call my husband for reassurance. It would be nice to hear the voice of someone who could just laugh at the whole thing and point out how silly I was being. When I described the situation to him, he responded:
“You have GOT to get that thing before it goes into the toys and you lose it and then it STINGS ONE OF US WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT!!!!!” Or something like that. Perhaps he wasn’t quite as frantic as I perceived him to be through the lens of my scorpion-induced mania, but suffice it to say that his answer was not to chuckle and tell me that it would be fine.
My husband did have a good practical suggestion though: Since it wasn’t in a good smashing position, I should use bug spray. I went and grabbed the last can of Raid from the laundry room, aimed it at the scorpion, went to push the plunger…and hesitated. Not pushing the plunger right when I had the nerve was a fatal mistake. I’d psyched myself out. The problem was that I had major hesitations about using wasp spray for scorpions. I mean, seriously, THESE THINGS DON’T DIE. If the fancy exterminator chemicals only get them to pretend to be dead, why on earth should I believe that some namby-pamby grocery store wasp spray would do anything at all? Shoot, for all I knew maybe that’s what they like to drink for breakfast! This train of thought ended up with me imagining spraying the Raid only to find out that it actually gives them more speed and strength, the angry arachnid now running right at me as I trip and fall and find myself unable to move as it stings me over and over again while I scream and the children come to my aid only to be stung themselves and…yeah. Suffice it to say I psyched myself out.
After some all-caps Twitter updates, Google searches to find out if wasps and scorpions are in the same genus, countless prayers requesting the support of the unknown patron saints of both scorpion killing and neurotic wimps, and rearranging the living room furniture to make the ottoman and some couch pillows into a scorpion-proof bunker behind which I could hide, I got ready to spray. For real this time. My finger was on the trigger again, but then I thought: What if this doesn’t have the range it says it does?
In what I would later come to think of as famous last words, I said to myself, “Ah, yes, I should really test it first!” So I went outside, picked out a threatening blade of grass and showed it who was boss with my Raid spraying skills. Then another one. OK, good, this stuff definitely had some range. I went inside, moved my bunker back a couple feet to give me even more room in case this spray only made the scorpion mad, and got ready again. Then I decided to test it inside the house. You know, in case it, uhh, spayed differently in indoor air. After squirting it at a blank spot on the wall, I was ready. Well, just one more time. OK, now I was ready.
But wait! Maybe what I needed was some music to help me get up my nerve. I put my iPod on shuffle and got back down behind my bunker just as some Matisyahu song was finishing up. In a you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moment, the next song that came on was the ultimate “one chance to prove yourself and win a great struggle in a David-and-Goliath sort of way” theme song, Eye Of the Tiger. As those first DUNH…DUHN-DUHN-DUHN guitar riffs started (OK, that’s hard to write, but y’all know what I’m talking about, right?) I focused my eyes on the scorpion 12 feet away, aimed the can, and sprayed.
And to my abject horror, I heard only a weak phhhhhhhhhh sound as a light cloud of chemcials came from the can.
I’d used up all the spray in my many tests. The can was basically empty.
In the split second it took for a couple of minuscule droplets to float over from the can to the scorpion’s hideout under the buffet, the thought flashed through my mind, “This isn’t going to be good.” And it wasn’t. One of the drops was a direct hit. The scorpion was unamused. And when scorpions get unamused, they get fast.
In a flash it got down from the book and took off, its stinger ready to take someone out. I instinctively started running the opposite direction, in the back of my mind thinking that I would eventually stop, perhaps somewhere around the U.S.-Canadian border. But when I glanced over my shoulder I saw to my horror that it was not running in my direction, but towards the toy pit. And it was only about a foot away.
“Get it, mommy!” my son shouted as the distance between the scorpion and a toy tractor closed quickly.
The awareness that I would literally never sleep in this house again if I lost that scorpion flashed through my mind, and — with Eye of the Tiger still blasting — I turned around, slammed open the childproof gate and ran back into the living room, knocking over a stack of laundry and kicking over a pile of children’s books that were in my way, stepping on a baby doll and reaching out to within a few inches of the scorpion to douse it with the last few dribbles of Raid.
In one of the more anticlimactic moments I’ve experienced lately, it just died. Instantly. The spray worked just fine.
I’d just thrown a book over it to stall any sneaky coming-back-from-the-dead moments until my husband got home, when I heard my two youngest children waking up from their naps. I went to get them, and when I came back downstairs it smelled like…well, like some idiot had sprayed Raid all over living room, so I announced that we were all playing outside until daddy got home.
A while later my husband walked in to behold the dismantled couch, the ottoman bunker, the scattered laundry and toys, the chemical residue dripping from the wall. To say that it looked like thieves had ransacked the place would be to imply way too much of a feel of order or purpose to the mess; to say it looked like thieves intended to ransack it but decided to stay and get drunk and just thrash around for a while would be getting closer to reality.
When my husband asked me how my day was, I said with a sigh, “It’s been tough — I haven’t had any time to relax and do stuff on my computer today!”
He looked back at the house, looked at me, and observed: “Today one of the kids came close to being stung by the biggest scorpion we’ve seen around here in a while, you stared at it in agony for the better part of an hour, hosed down the house with Raid, finally killed the scorpion, somehow tore the living room apart in the process…and your take is that it was a bad afternoon because you didn’t get enough computer time?”
And that’s when I decided it was time for a break.
- Brother Scorpion, Sister Mosquito
- 20 things I learned in a week without my computer
- Greetings from the House ‘O Scorpions
Thanks to Emily for suggesting the word “Scorpionator.”