Wednesday, November 20, 2013


(Warning: I will be writing about nasty bugs and writhy reptiles today so if you have a psychopathic aversion you may not want to read further.)

Once upon a time, long long ago, I worked for a television station in Phoenix.  One of our news photographers, a big broad-shouldered guy, used to love to discover tarantulas when he was out on a story in the desert.  He would pick these big hairy creatures up, put them in a box and bring them back to show around the newsroom.  "Show around the newsroom" would usually mean: tap someone on the back and then hold the box right in front of their face as they turned around.  Shrieks and profanity would fill the air, depending on the victim of such a stunt.

At one time I shared an office with a weatherman, equally affected by these types of practical jokes.  He will remain nameless but those of you who knew him "back then" will probably recognize him by his habit of wearing t-shirts with the names of various charitable organizations on them to plug their latest do-gooderism on his weathercasts.  One day a friend of his stopped in to see him and offer a co-host for his nightly forecast, a damned boa constrictor. The weatherman and his guest enjoyed my ashen face and demonstrable fear as I sidled along the wall to get out of the office until guest and snake had left the property.  I have a horrible fear of snakes of any kind.

When SWMBO and I lived in Phoenix years ago a swarm of black widow spiders made their homes right outside our back door.  You rarely saw them in the daylight but at night you could turn them up by the dozens by shining a flashlight around the entrance.  Needless to say, once we discovered them, we didn't use that entrance to the house at nighttime.

When we moved to Mexico, we would find the occasional scorpion in a wash basin in the morning.  We learned to quickly do away with them.  A friend came to visit once and, sure enough, a scorpion was in his basin in the morning.  He came to us, somewhat white-faced, and said "there's a scorpion in my wash basin."  We reacted too nonchalantly, I see now, and went to crush the little bugger in a paper towel and toss him away.

Those Mexican scorpions were tiny and we have since learned that the smaller they are the more deadly they are.  SWMBO was stung by one in bed one night.  I got rid of the bug but her arm was both getting numb and hurting and we had to scramble to find out what to do next.  One of our books on Mexico advised holding the scorpions body on the spot where she had been stung to somehow take up the poison.  SWMBO did not take kindly to that cure and a call to a doctor resulted in her taking a dose of Benadryl and her experience with her mother resulted in her putting a baking soda poultice on the spot to coax out the venom. Both of those apparently worked as the effects soon went away.  Oh, and one of our books advised remaining calm!  Sure.

Safely back in the confines of the United States, I discovered a scorpion in our bathtub a couple of months ago.  I crushed him with something or other and then flushed him down the toilet.  I reported my wildlife adventure to SWMBO and she said, "Oh, great, now we'll have to keep an eye out for the other one.  They always travel in pairs, you know."  I didn't know but I'd been searching ever since with no luck.  We reasoned the other one had gotten away outside somehow.

That was until yesterday.  I was sorting through a large stack of LP record albums and, all of a sudden, a rather large scorpion scurried out.  I did my best to dispatch him and flushed his remains.  Then I reported this proudly to my shuddery wife.

Oh, I forgot one other story.  At one time we lived in a small apartment in a row of them in a rural area.  One night we heard a ruckus outside and I opened the front door to discover a pretty good-sized rattlesnake curled up between our door and our neighbor's door.  She had come home at night and found him.  Another neighbor, who used to wear a lot of camouflage clothing and carried a gun or two and liked to go out rough camping with another friend who also always wore a pistol strapped to his hip, came out with the friend from his apartment.  I assumed one or the other of them would shoot this dangerous invader who had been looking for a warm place to sleep on the sidewalk.  But no!  Armed to the teeth though they were, they used a couple of brooms to shuffle the snake down about 50 yards or so to the edge of a ravine where they escorted him off to the wilds to live on.  I couldn't believe it.

But then.  This entire post was prompted by one today by the Chubby Chatterbox (read it here) in which his wife discovered a spider that she described as large enough to saddle and ride directly above their front door.  CC was ordered to get rid of it and he says his first thought was to capture it painlessly and set it loose to spin its web in his front yard.

Quite obviously he must be a relative, at least philosophically, of my two snake handlers.