When most people hear the term “Just dropping in,” they think of an unexpected knock at the door by a familiar face. At worst, they’re inconvenienced by the need to go throw on something decent and kick items under the couch. No one associates the phrase with a scorpion landing on your head, then getting a running start to jump off your shoulder and scuttle into the closet before you can even register what’s happening.
We’d lived in Arizona two years by then and I had never even seen a picture of a scorpion, let alone a real one. Talk about a memorable introduction.
I wish I could say my reaction was reasonable. I should be able to say that. A woman who’s driven cross-country alone, single-handedly changed the spark plugs in her first car (a gray Grand-Am named Diane), taken many a charge on the basketball court, and who’s got a battle plan for intruders that could arguably scare your pants off if you knew it – that woman should not be afraid of a bug no larger than her big toe.
Nevertheless, that woman (who should be transitioning out of third person by now) had an all-out-fit!
Forget that the scorpion was long gone. Once my body registered that it had actually touched me, I couldn’t have stopped the flailing limbs, shrieks, and shoulder jerks if I wanted to. That’s not the worst of it. When my toddler twins came running to see what all the fuss was about, I threw my body sacrificially in front of them as if the whole room were crawling with venomous insects. I know. By the time my kids are all grown and out of the house I’ll have a resume long enough to get me instantly cast as female lead in a drama.
The twins remained calm (to the discredit of their mother), curiously peering around me like rubberneckers on the freeway trying to get a glimpse of whatever answered to the shrieky call of, “Scorpion! Scorpion!”
Breathing like I’d had a wrestling match with the thing, I finally composed myself enough to pull my phone out of my pocket and text my husband: “There’s a scorpion in the house.” It’s pathetic but I did fully expect him to drop everything at work to come save us.
His response? A very delayed, “Kill it.”
I sooooo was not happy with him at that moment. He of all people should know that his capable wife turns into a useless girly girl when there are bugs involved, though not utterly useless. I went instantly to Plan B. I called our pest control company, put on my sweetest trembly voice, conjured up a plea that would have appealed to the hardest heart (especially the bit about the small, helpless children) and had a technician to our house within fifteen minutes. There’s that acting skill again :-).
Turns out scorpions are multi-talented creatures themselves. Though I’d done a quick search and found nothing out of the ordinary but what looked like a tan piece of chewed gum in the closet corner, the technician instantly identified that gum as the scorpion. They’re able to fold themselves up and give off the appearance of a harmless blob. If that doesn’t make your skin itch!
The tech left with the blob/scorpion, but not before informing me that it was the most venomous kind in our region – the bark. Very harmful to small children and elderly adults. Oh how wonderful!
I got suited and booted as we native Californians call it (geared up for the task at hand) and got busy. Dressed from head to toe in thick clothing (with just the skin on my face exposed underneath my ball cap), I emptied every drawer, went through every pocket, turned out every sock, shook out every toy – you get the picture – looking for any kids, cousins, or extended family members the scorpion may have left behind.
I didn’t find any. But something about that first encounter let me know it wouldn’t be my last.
And since this is “The Scorpion Chronicles,” it obviously wasn’t. Four years and a refusal-from-my-husband-to-relocate later, you may wonder if my ability to handle these encounters has improved. I’m chuckling just thinking about it. Follow along and you be the judge.