Dark Humor

There is nothing quite like the experience of stepping on a millipede in the middle of the night while on your way to the bathroom.  At first it’s not too alarming.  It is like stepping on a misplaced twig . . . until it curls up . . . and rides the bottom of your sock like a cockle-burr on a poodle’s butt while you hop to the nearest light-switch.  It’s just as well that you are on your way to the bathroom, because vomiting at that point is a distinct possibility.

For the past two weeks I have been stepping on millipedes every single night, always when on my way to the bathroom or to the kitchen.  Apparently, these millipedes are on their way to some sort of mecca.  They are all heading for the kitchen, having first climbed out of the promordial slime of the bathtub’s ancient drain.  I do not know what siren call they hear coming from my kitchen.  I don’t find them once they cross the sacred threshold.  For all I know, they reach the heating vent by the kitchen bar and fall in. 

I am certain that it’s not the same millipede making laps, because all the millipedes that try to hitch a ride on my sock gets flushed down the toilet.  At least that is better than what I used to do when encountering a bug in the house.  I used to upend a trashcan over it and wait until my husband got up to go to work. 

Which reminds me of the time a tarantula – or something very like it – got into our house when I was a teenager and living at home.  My mother, my friend Vanessa, and I were coming home one night when Mom spotted a tarantula in the road.  It was that big.  We could see it squatting in the low beams like roadkill.  Mom ran over it.  I protested.  It wasn’t doing any harm.  It was just sitting there, enjoying the warmth of the pavement after a long day of eating crickets.

My tune changed when we got in the house.  When Vanessa and I went into our bedroom to change our clothes, we discovered a tarantula in the middle of our floor.  We ‘discovered’ it when it started chasing us, boinging through the air like an insane tiddlywink.  It couldn’t decide whom to attack first.  We started screaming, springing in the air in tandem with the tarantula, both Vanessa and me  in a ludicrous state of undress.  

I managed to get to the small en suite bathroom and grab the trashcan, upending it on the romping spider.  It kept romping, hitting the trashcan with every leap and moving it a few inches each time, going toward the sound of our voices.  It was diabolical.  It was vicious.  It was like the thing had rabies and we were on its hit list.  

We screamed for my mother, who eventually came and stood in our doorway, intent on her glorious moment of payback. 

“It’s not hurting anyone,” she mimicked me, leaning a shoulder against the doorjamb, one eye on the moving trashcan, the other on us.  By then, Vanessa was on the top bunk of the bunk bed with her back pressed to the wall.  “That poor little spider was just minding its own business, when -”

“Just kill it!” I screamed.

Somehow it took all three of us to do the dastardly deed with a broom.  It kept jumping at the person with the broom, who, in turn, had to swat it out of mid-leap.  You would think we were playing an impromptu game of baseball for all the batting, screaming, and running going on.  Mom finally nailed it, grinding it unnecessarily into the shag carpet.  I guess she wanted to make sure it was dead. 

Making a silent vow to myself to never walk barefoot over that exact spot on the carpet ever again, I upended the trashcan over the pitiful remains, keeping it fresh – and well flagged – for my Dad to clean up when he came home. 

Hmmm . . . I won’t even go into the time a 5 inch scorpion came up through the drain while I was washing my hair.

Anyone out there have any bug-tales they want to share?  Please spread the horror and tell us about it.  Remember, to leave a comment, click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right!

‘And now for something completely different’ – click on this link below for your laugh of the day and watch with the sound up: http://www.thebigshow.com/video_day/videoNew.php?day=2010-08-18  This is not for the faint of heart!

And, finally, for those of us who need an antidote just about now, click on this site contributed by my friend Merrie Knox and watch it to the end to get the joke:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI   

Have fun!

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26 Responses to Dark Humor

  1. Snuffygump says:

    That was either a grass spider or a wolf spider. A prodigious, jumping terrorist of the arachnid family. I am surprised that y’all squashed that one. The carnage from one of those could cover two lanes of traffic, if hit on the highway. The thought of ever taking a shoe after it always flashed before me an image of a backsplash that I wasn’t willing to take. I would summit a chair and scream until one of my brothers would come running. They always sucked them up into the vacuum. Trouble was still the effect you got from trashcanning them. At least they never could find their way back out of the vacuum canister and , well, you know…at least I have always told myself that is where they stayed. but now that I have knowledge of the scorpion crawling up out of your sink pipe….
    My personal favorite, as you well know and should recall, is the slug. When we lived in West Fork, they had some kind of secret causeway to enter into the house via the kitchen. Slugs and kitchens are NOT meant to be together. It’s not right. They were contant, and being that I cannot even look at them, I had to have my husband do the removal. The handiest tool to expedite the slug was a spatula. Once scooped onto its platform, he would fling the slug into the toilet. One night there was a big fiesta and my husband started hualing out the first of several, disposing of them as I mentioned before. Since he had so many to extradite, he didn’t flush. Knowledge I did not have. I had to use the bathroom and ran in really quick in between this ongoing sluggacide, lifted up the toilet seat and saw something that I have never beheld in my life! I didn’t know that slugs could do this, stretch 10 times their body length. His head still hadn’t surfaced above the water in the bowl. I didn’t care. I started screaming and flushing, over and over and over again. Think MacBeth. My husband comes bursting into the bathroom and stood there with spatula in hand, filled with his next deposit. I ran screaming from the bathroom. I don’t recollect when I ever got to use the bathroom after that . I mean, you know. Flashbacks.

  2. Thea says:

    Ahhh! The slug story! It’s still as hilarious as the first time I heard it! :) Tell me, did you ever flip cookies with that spatula again?
    Randy and I used to clean the museum on Amelia Island in Florida. The building was the old island prison, built before the turn of the century. The spiders in there – banana spiders – were just as big and vicious as the one in my blog. They used to drop from the ceiling on you. I got to be quite handy with a rubber band. I would spot them on the ceiling before we would enter the room to clean, shoot it down, and Randy would suck it up with the vaccuum… if he was fast enough. Sometimes they would dart into closets, going under the door. Ick! Ick! Ick!…

  3. Ah Thea, I had the side of my foot branded by one of those 5 inch scorpions……..or maybe it was 10 inch……..anyway I couldn’t stand on my foot all day. Happy millipede hunting!

  4. Thea says:

    Margaret – Randy’s comment when reading your comment was a heartfelt, ‘Ooooooo’ of sympathy. You get one from me too!

  5. Samudra says:

    My insect phobia is centipedes. The phobia developed when as a freshman in college, I read Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, thinking it had something to do with the Impressionist painting Le Dejeuner Sur l’Herbe. It didn’t. The following summer in the cinderbrick dorm at U of A in Fayetteville, a bunch of us girls were discussing what insects scared us. When I returned to my room, there on the floor lay (stood?) a centipede about six inches long. It had only about twenty legs, and was gunmetal gray. It looked just like the ones in Naked Lunch. I went back to the room where we’d been discussing insects, and said to the woman who lived there, “You’re not afraid of centipedes? Follow me!” She followed me into my room, where we discovered that it had crawled up the cinderblock and now lurked above my pillow, waiting, no doubt, for me to go to bed so it could leap down and suck my face. She picked up one of my shoes and squashed the centipede against the wall. As it died, it made a whirring noise, like the spinning gears of a small robot being crushed.

    My apartment occasionally produces delicate, fluttery centipedes–long skinny bodies with a hundred long skinny legs sticking out in the shape of a flat egg around the body. I scream and grab a cat and throw it at the centipede, which runs–maybe I should say ruffles–quickly away, usually getting the cat’s attention and producing a pounce, the results of which I decline to stick around to observe.

    The millipedes I’ve met are like thick black worms with rows of bristly little legs marching directly underneath them like little armies. We had scorpions in our first apartment in Little Rock, and if I got up during the night to pee, I always had to check my slippers before I put them on. One night when I was four or five, Mama heard me heading for the bathroom mumbling to myself, “Scorpions look like baby alligators. Scorpions look like baby alligators.” Apparently I had been dreaming of them. I’m told that although those scorpions’ stings could be painful, they wouldn’t kill you.

    I’ve loved spiders ever since I discovered that they eat cockroaches. When I see one in my apartment, I scold it. “Spiders must remain invisible!” I remind it. If it keeps showing up, I’ll kill it and pray for its spidery little soul. Tarantulas are another matter. In high school, I had a friend who RAISED tarantulas. She brought one to school one day and it sat on my shoulder and pretended to be a parrot. When I visited another friend in the woods just outside Eureka Springs, I discovered that there is a certain time every year, like the swallows returning to San Capistrano, that the tarantulas would cross the road to get to their little tiny rock caves on the other side, where they would hibernate all winter, like little black bears. I’ve rescued many a cowering, shivering human from the presence of large spiders and even wasps, but I still need to be rescued from centipedes.

  6. Randy says:

    I’ve got a good story not for the faint of heart. The story goes: my grandfather was putting his boot on, and a foot long centipede came out of the boot and wrapped around his ankle. They tried to pull it off and it dug in – all of its ‘little hooves’, and they ended up ripping it free. But it left its legs all dug in, and they had to pull the centipedes legs one by one out of his ankle with pliers. I’ve seen those foot long centipedes when I was young. They are a beautiful orange, red, and black. And they are hard to kill.

  7. Thea says:

    Oh, Samudra! Your contribution had Randy and I both horrified and laughing hysterically. Your descriptions are priceless!

  8. Slarty says:

    I only have stories of brown recluse spiders crawling across my arms, legs, and up my shirts. But probably my favorite spider story was when my grandma was giving a comment and a spider that had been under the chair in front of her all meeting darted for her feet and she screamed (the “Wojcik Girl” scream) right into the microphone. It was very funny. I also love the story about how she had her cell phone in her back pocket and it started to vibrate (while she was sitting on it) and she thought a bee was attacking her so she got up and ran.

    Poor Elmo by the way! That was like the Joker in Batman (the first one). cccrrreeepppyy

  9. Snuffygump says:

    Phobias coming out of the woodwork!. Thea you have opened a can of….worms! Samudras account had the same effect on me as it did y’all. I have a whole new fuzzy feeling about hibernating tarantulla’s now. I have heard that gear shift grind on a crunching centipede/millipede, too! It’s true! And it justs doubles the creep factor, because the sound reverberates up throught the limb you are using to process it.
    Now Randy…Randy? I know that you are from a small pocket of Oklahoma. Have these coral snake colored sticky things wearing combat boots ever been catalogued by entomologists?

  10. Kippy says:

    I can’t even write about it. I HATE SPIDERS!

  11. Kipper says:

    What if my little brother sees that laughing Elmo video? How are you going to explain that one to him?

  12. Thea says:

    Slarty, I can picture it! I love your grandma, and that sounds just like her! Too, too funny! Thank you for telling us!

  13. Thea says:

    Snuffygump, I will never think of centipedes the same way again… I thought I was creeped out before, but the vibrating-whirring thing that you can FEEL?!! Yowzah!
    Remind me to never step on one… EVER!

  14. Thea says:

    Kippy, I PROMISE that Elmo will NEVER see that horrible video. So pretend that you never read this blog… okay? And I’m going to do a blog about you soon! So have your Mammy send a few more pictures again of you. (I lost some of the ones she sent earlier when my computer went down.)

  15. Randy says:

    Snuffygump, the centipedes are known there, where I come from, but I have never seen them in any books about insects. Or the specialiazed centipede books in the library. Oh, well, until next time.

  16. Purplume says:

    Hi Thea, let’s see if I can work the comment thingy.
    I am afraid of spiders. Once I emptied a whole can of raid on one because it had hairy legs and when I sprayed it, it came toward me. That totally freaked me out. I expect them to lie there and die. I’m so glad I wasn’t there for your hopping one. We have centipedes come in the house at night. Last one that came in showed up while hubby and I were watching TV. We both leap up in unison and spilled our drinks. Hubby has it down to a science – killing them. The ones here hurt for days if they bite you.

  17. Thea says:

    Purplume, you came through perfectly! Thanks for commenting!
    What is it about spiders that are so aggressive, they are like zombies coming after you in the face of gunfire? I think that is precisely what creeps me out the most about them… that and the jump factor. So… I wonder, how exactly does your Hubby kill them? He doesn’t just step on them, does he? If he has another way of dealing with them, we would ALL (apparently :) ) be grateful to find out his secret.

  18. Snuffygump says:

    A wet dry vac with a large cannister works wonderfully for us too. When we lived on Truebloods property in Decatur, we just left ours out. The place was so overrun by insects we had to stay on the offensive. Something we had never seen and named a coral spider, probably related to Randy’s waffle stomping mega ped, lurked around the edges of the fire stove. Wasps & hornets plied the airspace above our heads. Ants, in everything. Both Val and I became adept at sucking wasps out of midair. Downside was having to listen to them dinging around for days afterward. But we hardened our hearts, we had to…Oh! Let me not forget the transparent crickets. I don’t know what their lack of pigmentation meant, but stories flew around in those days of poor confined- to- wheelchair people having their toes gnawed off by these hideously pale hoppers. Think external sinus drainage in it’s early pale green tinge.
    Now to be fair, we did have a delightful visitor in that house. I discovered a bright green praying mantis living amongst the flowers on the sill above the kitchen sink. We named him E.T. We enjoyed his company for about 3 days until I missed seeing him one morning. Val and I looked everywhere, until I made the grissley dicovery. Right where I stood to wash dishes at the sink, right wear I stood and enjoyed watching my little green friend, I found the perfectly flattened body of E.T. If anyone has ever driven over one of their own pets, well, the trauma was equal here.

  19. Kippy says:

    I’ll be glad when this subject is over with. E. T. was my pet.

  20. Thea says:

    I hadn’t seen any of those when we were there – thank goodness . . . I think the worst would be the transparent crickets!
    Poor E.T.! Poor Kippy! Snuffygump, you are like that old woman who sat on her own cat…

  21. Purplume says:

    Amazing, this worked and I didn’t do anything different???

    Right you are, if you step on these centipedes they curl around and bite you on the foot. My friend said it hurt all the way up to her groin.
    People recommend keeping tongs just for picking them up with and then cut off their head.
    My husband prefers immobilizing them with a pampered chef fly swatter. It has plastic fringe on the top edge. He sticks the swatter straight down on them instead of swatting. Then they can only wiggle and not run away. The worst is when they escape and you find them later.
    Then he smashes their head with a bulbous hose nozzle and puts them outside for the birds to eat.
    This sounds like a crime drama.

    So sorry Snuffygrump about your E.T. I love to find praying mantis. They eat a lot of other bugs.

  22. Thea says:

    Thank you Purplume! Great idea… I never knew that about their heads… of course, what WOULD live without a head? Besides starfish… Seems like a very expedient way to handle it.
    (And he recycles it! :) )

  23. Slarty says:

    I just read Randy’s comment! That is a terrible story! Awful images in my mind! Not good before bed.

    And Snuffygump! Poor E.T.! That’s a sad story!

    …and the ugly caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The End. Ah…happy happy! Great blog, Thea! Lots of good comments too! Love to read the stories!

  24. Samudra says:

    The year I discovered the annual migration of the tarantulas was the same year I discovered that insects have specific dates for Doing It. The friend I was visiting in the woods was a Lesbian Separatist and wasn’t at all comfortable with my fascination with mating insects. That year the swarms of giant yellow & brown grasshoppers that had been hopping around all summer started Getting It On in late September, sometimes in groups of three or more. My friend resisted my attempts to call her attention to their orgies, so I pointed out the mating dynamic of what she called Good News Wasps, because they’d hover in front of your face and buzz as if they were trying to communicate, but I assumed they were ichneumon wasps because the females stung the males, laid their eggs in them, and dragged them off into corners to serve as larders for the new brood. But no, not even this example of female dominance outweighed the fact of Doing It. Up to that point I’d thought the reason she loved praying mantids was that the female eats the male while they are in the throes of passion, but I guess she’d never thought about the reproductive aspects of mantid life, because she didn’t like them as much after the three days I kept pointing out female mantids trying to hump my shoe. I don’t know what she’d previously thought they were trying to do–join the Sisterhood? dance?

  25. Thea says:

    Wow, Sam . . . the things you learn when you least expect it . . . High School Biology only taught us how to identify trees by their leaves . . .

  26. Thea says:

    Thank you, Slarty!

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