Tag Archives: scorpions

I’m not scared of anything

I’m not afraid of anything. Except scorpions. I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, I opened my eyes and I saw this scorpion just inches away from me on the pillow. And I didn’t know what to do, should I move? Do these things react depending on how I react? Should I stay still? I couldn’t do anything, but I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything. The whole time, that growing feeling of dread was overtaking my whole body. What had started out as a pit in my stomach was spreading upwards, through my throat, out across my neck to my arms. Just when I felt like my heart was going to overload, I blinked, and when I opened my eyes, I started to get the sense that there wasn’t really a scorpion there at all, but it was just a weird way in which the fabric of the pillow was bunched up. And yeah, I had been asleep, and that’s happened before, you wake up and you see something across the room and it takes you a minute to get your wits about you.


Still, I’m basically fearless. Unless we’re talking about heights. I wouldn’t call it a fear, exactly. It’s more like an innate terror, something that my body isn’t really in control of. Like, I take a look down, and whatever sort of instincts drive my most basic decision making process, they start sending out panic-induced distress signals, “Rob, abort, get down from wherever you’re at.” If I’m on an airplane, or a Ferris wheel, or even if I’m just watching a movie or a Youtube clip featuring somebody doing something high up off the ground, I get that sweaty palm sensation, which speaks to my empathic abilities, to really put myself in the shoes of anybody. Who knows? Maybe it’s hereditary. Maybe all of my ancestors died horrible deaths after falling from a great height, and through evolution, that fear has been passed down to me, to hopefully prevent me from meeting a similar fate. In which case it’s an advantage.

But no, besides scorpions and heights, I’d have to say that I’m not really scared of anything. Wait, I forgot to mention heartburn. I’m pretty scared of heartburn, not that I suffer from it that often, it’s definitely not a chronic problem. It’s just that, I remember this one time in college, I went to the cafeteria, waited on the line for the omelet station. Usually I’d just grab something premade, but on this day I guess I felt like I deserved something fresh, like it was worth the wait. “Give me everything,” I told the omelet guy, and he said, “OK,” using those mini tongs to pile in a little bit from each container, peppers, onions, cheese, everything. And it was great, but right afterwards, I started getting what I’d later identify as heartburn, that stinging right below the chest. There was no relief, laying down didn’t help, I couldn’t walk it off. Finally I went to the nurse and explained my symptoms. She gave me a bottle of Tums and told me to take four every half hour. And it worked. But still, that feeling, I’m still terrified of that burning, it felt like I was being eaten alive from the inside.

Also, carcinogens, I’m really afraid of carcinogens, all of them, yellow number-five, the stuff that’s in plastic bottles, harmful radiation from the sun, I’m afraid of all of it. One time I read this article about how if you keep your laptop on your lap, then that’s basically a carcinogen, because you’re irradiating your lap. So I threw out that laptop and started only using my phone. And then I read something else about how phones might cause brain abnormalities. So I threw out the phone and I exclusively use my desktop computer.

Wait, I forgot germs, and this ties in, because the desktop computer use is also a way to make sure I’m not touching anybody else’s keyboard, OK, and they’re not using mine. Because we’re getting into flu season, and I can’t afford to start thinking about the flu, if only I weren’t so scared of needles, or vaccinations, I could get a flu shot and sleep easy for a while. But even just the cold, isn’t it always cold season? Or strep throat. One time this guy at work told me that he was recovering from strep throat, and so I quit, no way.

I think I’m getting carried away, but I’m actually very brave, it takes a lot to rattle me. What was that? Did you hear that? I think someone’s at the front door. I can’t be positive that it might not be an attacker. Look, just, if you’re reading this, do me a favor, use your germ-ridden cell phone and call the cops, tell them to swing by and just kind of drive really slowly in front of my house, just to, you know, scare away any would-be home invaders. I think they’re still knocking. Hurry up, all right? I can’t take the sitting here, squirming, imagining all of the hundred different ways in which this is all going to crash down around me, just wind up horribly, horribly wrong.

I’m never going to the desert

I’m so glad I don’t live in the desert. I apologize if this comes across as insensitive, I realize that some people live in the desert, but I really am glad that I’m not one of them. If you’re reading this from the desert, before you get angry at me completely bashing your sandy way of life, I urge you to try moving out of the desert, or at the very least getting away for an extended vacation. While I’m sure that you might be able to rattle off ten or fifteen reasons why living in the desert is cool, I’m confident that after a brief stay in a non-desert environment, you’ll lose a lot of that sand clogging up your brain, you’ll rethink everything.


True, I’ve never actually been to the desert. But from an early age I realized that I’d never need to go to the desert to understand what a terrible place it is for people to live. When I was in second grade, I remember the teacher going over a spelling lesson. She told us a trick so we wouldn’t get confused over how to spell desert and dessert: “Just think kids, you always want a second helping of dessert, so dessert is spelled with that second s.” And although that should have been enough to make the pneumonic stick, she continued, “But you never want to go to the desert, so that’s why it only has one s.”

So for a while, I wouldn’t even spell it desert, I’d spell it de’ert, because I didn’t even want my one s to be mistaken for me wanting even a single trip to the desert. This fear of the desert was reinforced when I’d go home to play video games. Anybody who had Super Mario 3 for regular Nintendo knows exactly what I’m talking about: the desert level.

It’s a horrifying place to wind up, even in an eight-bit setting. There are giant pyramids made out of blocks, but some of the blocks start jumping at you when you get too close. Each stage is infested with these bouncing flames invincible to Mario’s attacks. That mean looking sun in the background starts swooping down to kill you when you’re not even paying attention.

And I don’t want to make this whole thing about video games, but every virtual desert level is the worst. The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart, they’re all terrible places, desolate and dried out, the sun so oppressive that if you spend too much time on any given stage, you could wind up with a tan just by sitting too close to the TV.

I can only imagine what the real desert must be like. No water anywhere. Sand flies. Holy shit, sand flies. I’ve heard they’re like ten times bigger than regular flies. They burrow under the sand and wait for you to walk by, and then they bite you. But that’s not it, the bites get infected and start swelling up, by the time the blister pops, you don’t even realize that there are all of these sand fly eggs ready to hatch under your skin. It’s the same with sand spiders.

And what about scorpions? I think that Mother Nature put certain creatures on this planet solely to keep human beings far, far away. Snakes, wendigos, and scorpions, they’re all just living warning signs, scorpions existing to tell us, look, if the miles and miles of endless sand, complete lack of water, and oppressive arid heat weren’t enough to keep you from setting up shop here, I’m going to crawl around your house and sting you with my giant poisonous tail. Now go away.

Popular culture doesn’t help the desert’s case. Nobody was looking to settle down and build a home on Tatooine. No, that’s where you leave little babies when you never want the The Empire to find them. It’s the same with the Dune series. Do you think everybody liked wearing those hydro suits, saving up their own sweat and pee to be filtered and recycled into drinking water? No, the whole point of those books was to turn desert into something non-desert.

I just don’t get it, you spend all day riding around on your camel, and if you’re lucky enough to avoid having the skin torn from your body in an unexpected sandstorm, you’ve got to worry about not accidentally tripping over some spiky cactus patch. You waste all of your time walking across the sand for a drink of water, which is much harder than walking on solid ground, and even if you happen to not get stuck in any quicksand, it’s more than likely that the drink you were after the whole time is actually a mirage, and look up above, the vultures are already circling up in the sky, just waiting for your body to collapse from the heat, yet another feast for sandworms and sandrats.

No thanks, I’ll stick with the regular worms and regular rats, no desert for me. If anybody needs me, I’ll be far away from the desert, somewhere nice and cool, with plenty of water to drink and lots of shade where I can relax.