my battle with Thing (oh, THAT was a scorpion?)

the other night, my only night completely alone in this isolated jungle home after my hosts left and before my sisters arrived, I did battle with what I now know was a scorpion.

I had the house locked up and the lights turned down, and went in the bathroom for the reasons we all go in the bathroom at night. and there, between myself and the sink and toilet, was a creature that looked like a massive spider had mated with a crab and then shellacked their child in black latex.

I’ve been getting all cool with nature, but with the general unspoken agreement of ‘no monsters in the bathroom, please’.

I stepped out of the bathroom to see if there wasn’t really another person around to handle this. after I confirmed that the nearest person I could ask for help with any dignity was over 3000 miles away, I checked to see if it was still there. affirmative. 

not dead, not giving ground.

I talked to it for a little while in a calm and yet shrieking whine: ‘I don’t know what you are (what ARE you???) but I need this space and I can’t use it if you’re there (do you eat people? are you strong in multitudes like an ant? are you a tiny alien???) cause there’s too much unknown.’

this yielded no response.

I went and got a glass and a newspaper, still in conversation with myself, which is just how I am these days. it’s comforting to create sounds to let out fear.

plan: cover Thing in glass, slide paper under, take thing away to outside.

reality: trying to capture Thing in glass, I learned that Thing can dart sideways really fast like a crab on speed (based on Yale research on speedy high crabs). so fast, in fact, I dropped the glass and it broke. 

but not on Thing. 

(ok, self, this thing is the size of the palm of your hand and you just threw a glass grenade at it, what’s wrong with you? its probably the truly terrified one, the hunted! calm down. just go away for a while and it probably will too.)

(but why hasn’t it left yet?? and where will it go, what if goes IN the toilet like the big moth the other night?? {thats another whole story} I want to pee now and later and brush my teeth and I Can’t until Thing is gone.)


plan b: cover Thing in non-breakable glass, which you can’t see through but also can’t break, slide paper under, take Thing away to outside.

reality: me yelling, ‘I’m not trying to kill you just go in the cup. just go in the cup!! is your brain…do you have a brain?? oh god!!’ while failing to drop the cup quickly enough about 23 times. finally finally I get Thing in the cup against the wall except for one antennae part. I slide the paper under! but Thing is more slender than the paper and instead of being neatly contained in the cup, Thing is now somewhere between the newspaper and the wall.

I stun-bap* Thing through the paper where I think the head might be, and drop everything. and back out of the bathroom to gather my strategic thoughts. 

i consider that I may have to go sleep outside in the jungle, or at least pee there. deep breath, back in, I lift the paper.

Thing is there, but seems dazed. I cover Thing in plastic cup, carefully get paper under, and then Thing comes alive and nearly knocks itself out of my container.

‘no! no, Thing, you cannot stay here!’

there was much magic maneuvering to get my two handed Thing contraption out the locked two handed front door, but I managed. I closed the door behind me, exhaled, and had a good laugh at myself.

today, as I tried to describe it to my sisters, I realized it really wasn’t a spider, or a crab. so I looked up images of scorpions in costa rica. and there amongst the larger, tailed variety, small and tailless and black and harmless to humans, was Thing. 

Thing was, and is, a tailless whip scorpion who moves fast side-to-side on six legs with two massive antennae and has some social behaviors, unlike most scorpions. 

here are pictures!

Thing, and the process of dealing with Thing, reminded me of my emotional processes, sometimes. 

upon seeing the large, though relatively small, and unknown uninvited emotion – and feeling scared – I try to talk myself, and the emotion, out of the confrontation. 

then I realize I have to deal with it if I want to be free of it. or learn from it, or whatever is required to evolve.

then with much flailing and breaking things and self-cheerleading, I get the feeling clear and then laugh at myself for having been so scared of something so relatively small in the grand scheme of…living creatures, and/or the emotional realm.

from fear to acceptance to action. quellchrist falconer, an anarchist revolutionary in richard morgan’s takeshi kovacs series, says, ‘face the facts. then act. face the facts, Then act.’

the faster I can go through this process, the healthier I feel. 

so, now, I’m adding this to my list of accidentally brave things i do, after dives in caverns, and drives alone in new countries at night: battles with scorpions, faces actual emotions and fears, and wins.


* stun-bap is the technical term for a light non-smashing touch designed to disorient a smaller opponent. probably learned this from art of war or something.