My wife is out of town and, mostly, I’m okay with it. The one issue: who will kill the centipedes? In a startling reversal from traditional gender roles, I’m forced to admit that a certain someone else is the centipede exterminator in the family. I know this lowers my stature in the eyes of my traditional Dutch ancestors, where the male was always the insect killer, but I do not abdicate my calling without cause. I’m an inept bug killer. They generally get away from me. I can’t kill a fly with a $20 swatter, while my wife, Nancy, can catch them with her bare hands, and subsequently provide safe transport and release to a new, carefree life in the great outdoors.
Flies aren’t anywhere near the problem that centipedes represent for me. These babies are almost a foot long, and “centi-“, meaning, a hundred, is just an estimate, on the low side. Centipedes give me the heebie-jeebies, and no, I’m not including any images with this blog entry. Google for your flipping self! And add the words “giant size poster”, you sick-o. Earlier this week, I found a baby centipede sitting on an ibuprofen bottle in the basement en-suite, their habitual hangout in our house. Now, usually I can deal with the babies myself, but the pill bottle presented a challenge I wasn’t sure I could handle. I had to call in reinforcements, and Nancy took care of it. Lo and behold, a couple of minutes later I saw another one on the floor, and just as I jumped off the john, another little one fell from the fan right into the toilet. That was close! Three centipedes, even small ones, is not a good sign, and after vacating the bathroom once more so Nancy could do her work cleanly and clinically, I returned only of necessity, and with no small amount of trepidation, to complete my morning constitutional. I was barely settled when who comes tearing across the floor, all legs ablaze and on fire, but “big mama” centipede. I guess I didn’t mention that these centipedes can run as fast as a horse. So I had to run faster than that. Not because I’m afraid, really, but, quite objectively, I’m no match for a beast like this.
I have heard from a reliable source, although I can’t remember the person, or where I heard the story, but, suffice to say, it’s from one of the one million Canadians who claim to know Gord Lightfoot personally, that he actually sold his house to get away from centipedes. Apparently the centipedes didn’t scare Gord, at least no more than when the gales of November come early, but his wife of the time lived in mortal terror. I was told by the same authority that Gord’s ex-neighbours thought the story was an excuse, and that these old folks, where the ice is on the river and they always stay the same, don’t believe Gord was ever as happy in a tony part of Toronto with the Westons and the Drakes. Clearly these ex-neighbours must not have had the centipedes that Lightfoot had, and I, for one, understand perfectly why he had to leave. (Note: I did try to verify the story through Lightfoot’s agent, who, as it turns out, is still under instructions not to discuss the subject of centipedes all these years later.)
All the same, with Top Gun in the house, I won’t need to move. And I can deal with her being away for the most part. I have a strategy. I use the upstairs washroom in the middle of the night, and I wear my heavy Rhode slippers when in the ensuite, and so, there’s only a slight zone of vulnerability that occurs when drying off from a shower. She’s been away for a whole day, and so far, so good.
I don’t have a good solution for the zone of vulnerability, though. About a year ago, a massive centipede ran all up and down my naked body, as I said, at the speed of a horse. If a horse could even do that. Fortunately, Top Gun was standing right beside me, at the sink. The conversation went something like this.
Me: Nancy, Nancy knock it off.
Nancy: What? Now, you don’t like how I brush my …
Me: No, no. Knock IT off. IT. ITTT!
Nancy knocked it off, very deftly, and straight into the porcelain throne. Quite fortuitously, the seat was in the position known around here as “UP”. Flush, and back to the deep, you demon monster.
Two more days. It should be okay. The prices motels charge these days! And here I now sit blogging in my zone of vulnerability, deadlocked between my Dutch cheapness, and the horror, oh, the horror.