I couldn't help but break with my regular, frenetic, MFA writing/studying routine to post about this. I was lying in bed the other night (reading frenetically, of course). Where the Red Fern Grows. A classic I've avoided because it suffers from the painful dead dog syndrome, actually two dead dogs. But, in the name of higher education, I'd decided to tackle it.
I was just getting to the good part where Billy catches his first coon. He races back to the farm to tell his family. He's screaming and jumping and hooting and hollering. He's so worked up, his mother thinks he's been bitten by a snake. She drops everything and runs to help him.
When she discovers it's not a snake bite at all but a captured raccoon, she threatens to give Billy a sound thrashing.
Pretty exciting stuff, right?
Now add to that that this story takes place in the back country of the Ozark mountains in northeastern Oklahoma, about an hour and a half from where I live. As close to home as it gets, really. Plus, it's nighttime. The kids are in bed. I'm alone. With the dog. And I'm reading about snakes. Yeessh.
Something tickles my arm. I reach over to brush it off, thinking my imagination is really getting the better of me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see something scurry off across my bed. I bolt upright. I look.
It's a scorpion.
At least, I think that's what I said. I was busy rocketing out of my bed as far away from the scorpion as possible. Practically hyperventilating, I dash to the phone and call my dad. Yes, I'm five again, tops, and hoping my father can fix it all. His advice: Kill it.
Gulp. I have to kill a scorpion. In. My. Bed.
Sorry, Wilson Rawls, but now Where the Red Fern Grows not only suffers from the dead dog syndrome but also the dead scorpion one too. After I'd beaten the scorpion very very flat, I called my husband and told him he had to come home right now.
When he finally got home and found me, a shell-shocked bundle of jumpy nerves huddled up under a blanket upstairs on the sofa as far away from my bed and any other scorpions that might be lurking, he had a hard time taking me seriously. In his defense, I must have been a comical sight, only I didn't feel a comical sight. I wanted sympathy. Indignation. Deadly, bug-killing chemicals.
But my husband is from Germany. They don't have scorpions. He doesn't get the whole, "They can hurt you" factor. To make matters worse, he is a Scorpio. He joked that I shouldn't have smashed one of his family members. Ugh.
Seeing as I was not going to get the needed overdose of understanding and sympathy from him, I called my girlfriend down the street, who hates bugs, ALL bugs. Okay, so maybe that was a little selfish, but I needed a lifeline! My friend really rose to the occasion. She listened. She was sympathetic. Indignant. Offered bug-killing chemicals. But in the end, there were two of us not sleeping that night.
Many many dollars later (I called the bug guy out to douse the house; so did my poor friend), it is safe to say, the only scorpio(n) I've slept with for many nights now is my husband...I hope.