Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Sickness and in Health, but Not in Monster Attacks

I have to preface this by explaining that I grew up in the country. I am not afraid of creepy-crawlies. I had--as pets--rats, mice, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and a giant centipede. I helped my dad clean squirrels and rabbits that he'd hunted. I caught snakes and frogs for fun. I remember being in fourth grade when a praying mantis fell on a classmate's desk and caused the entire room to go into a panic. As someone was about to smash the confused little bug, I scooped it up (bare handed) and tossed it out the window. I do not get creeped out by critters easily. 

This little guy (or gal, we didn't have much time to get acquainted) greeted me this morning as I was making my breakfast and heading out the door. It's a house centipede, and if my blurry iPhone pic doesn't do enough to spark fear in your heart, take a look at these images that Flickr users have been kind enough to contribute to our nightmares. 

House Centipede closeup
I mean, come on! Why does anything need that many legs? Isn't that the creepiest thing you've ever seen?!

I'm telling you all of this because it reminded me of a moment my marriage was put to the test. 

See, before our city decided to join the 20th century and get recycling containers in alleyways, we kept plastic bins on our back porch for our recyclables and then drove them across town to dutifully dump them in the appropriate spot. We'd then leave our empty bins in the back seat of the car so we could start the whole process again. 

Apparently, one of these little friends decided to hitch a ride on a recycling bin and revealed itself on the windshield directly in front of my eyes. 

At that vantage point, it was about 12-inches long (not really) and had about 30 legs (really). My completely uncontrollable reaction was to let out a scream, a terrified, high-pitched, the-world-is-about-to-end scream. 

Luckily, I wasn't driving. Unluckily, my husband was. When I let out that scream, his reaction was to pull to the side of the road, unbuckle his seat belt, and without even putting the car in park, jump from the vehicle. 

He had one leg out of the open door as our car was rolling down the shoulder of a (deserted, thank God) road. 

"What are you doing?!" I yelled at him. 

"I don't know," he said. "But whatever made you scream like that, I don't want any part of." 

We're really a pretty good team. He was an amazing partner through childbirth and we "died" hand-in-hand during the zombie run, but I know when the true terror comes, his reaction will be to leap from the vehicle while I'm left to fight for my life. At least my screams might save him. I suppose if I manage to jump out, too, he'll probably come check on me, once he's sure the monsters are gone. 


  1. I HATE house centipedes! We had them two apartments ago. We would see basically one a day and I lived in total terror. They are the creepiest, grossest thing in the world.

    1. And they're so damn fast! It's like an evolutionary nod to the horror genre.

  2. Thanks for that laugh this morning!

  3. Ugh, we had these in my childhood home. Creepy! My dog seemed to like eating them, though, which is really gross.

    The husband screaming about bugs while I handle them is pretty common in my household, though. My husband is entomophobic to the extreme, whereas I started my research career in vector biology. Or, I'll see something and go 'Is that a silverfish?' and my husband is all 'WHY ARE YOU NOT KILLING IT!'

  4. Basic humanity goes out the window, or door, I guess, in the face of house centipedes. Spiders I catch and release; house centipedes I make my husband kill. Because, you know, that's obviously man's work. I will eagerly argue in favor of traditional gender roles for the amount of time it takes to convince someone other than me to "Kill it before it moves!"