Friday, August 26, 2011

Short post: Heat and Scorpions

It was 108 degrees at 9pm the other evening, and I've been telling people this summer seemed milder than most.

Do you think that's the test, then? You've finally got the mettle to stay in Arizona if a summer that's about to break a record for the most days over 110 degrees qualifies as "a mild year" in your book? Perhaps I'm smitten with this place. Maybe I'm just grateful I don't live in Yuma, Arizona. Or maybe I have heat poisoning of the brain. I did walk outside on a 116 day and say casually to my husband, "This is not so bad."

Crying out loud, I was defending the furnace that viciously persecutes mankind in these parts for four + months every year! Why, I don't know. The only thing I've ever gotten from it was a chocolate bar. How? By leaving a bag of Ghiradelli chocolate chips in my car while I shopped. I came out to a bag of liquid chocolate. I put it in the freezer when I got home, and voila! Scrumptious chocolate bar!

All this heat is making me uncomfortable, though. It's making me itch. Not literally, no. But mentally. I read in the paper that local hospitals had received a record number of phone calls about scorpion bites last month because of this heat. When temperatures get so high, even the bugs haul their buns inside looking for a cold beer. And who follows the bugs? Why their natural predator, the scorpion!

I know so many people who have gotten bitten in their beds, just out of the shower, outside....mostly in their beds....that I have a sense of inevitability about meeting a scorpion's stinger one day. It feels like fate, a fate I am anxiously tryin not to think about, but a fate I can't avoid much longer. With each fresh story I hear from friends and acquaintances about their painful encounter with that aggressive arachnid, I can feel my time coming, coming.....

If I crawl into bed at night without shaking out the sheets, I lie there taut, legs together, toes curled, arms pressed against my midsection, waiting to feel...well, what that stinger will feel like. It's much nicer just to shake out the sheets and inspect under the pillows, flipping them over in case a scorpion is hiding on the back side, snickering behind its pincers and thinking about how freakishly funny its going to be when he stings me on my neck.

I escaped my fate once. I reached into a diaper bag at the home of Matthew's grandmother. A small scorpion crept out after my hand, and I screamed and leaped back. Grandma forked the scorpion and thrust it down the garbage disposal. The crunch of that disposal is something that still haunts me today. "Well, that's taken care of," she said staunchly. Ah, Grandma - she was made for the desert. On her property that bordered BLM land, she dealt with rattlesnakes and javelinas, too.

I'm here in more urbanized desert, but still the desert, and I've been here nine years. Heaven help me, I'm convinced there's a scorpion waiting for me somewhere, sometime soon. And if we break a record this summer for highest lows and most days over 110, I just know I'm going to wander into my kitchen one of these late nights, find a scorpion on my counter eating crickets and sipping a cool beer, and he'll look me right in the eye as he uncurls his tail and says slowly, "I've been waiting for you..."


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