I was puttering around, as I do on weekend mornings when I don’t have plans. Suddenly my daughter started screaming, “MOM! MOM! MOM!” in a manner which indicated that perhaps the world was coming to an end in an especially creative way. Or, since she’s a teenager, in a manner which indicated some celebrity broke up with some other celebrity. I ran to her side.
The scream was legit. She was in the bathroom holding a toothbrush, using it to point at the sink. In the sink was the sort of creature upon which the Japanese used in the 1950s to model its movie monsters.
It waved its claws and its tail stinger at me. Despite our size difference, it was not afraid of me. I was afraid of it but determined not to let my daughter know. My fear seemed ridiculous and irrational, and I pride myself on making sense.
I had no weapons at my disposal. I was wearing green pajamas with pink flamingos on them. I had no pockets to search, no shoes to take off and use as bludgeons. I opened the cabinet beneath the sink and found nothing particularly useful there either. I picked up a spray bottle of Formula 409. The bottle didn’t seem sturdy enough to damage the scaly exterior of the scorpion, so I spritzed him. He stopped, shrugged off the cleaner, and tried again to climb the side of the sink. I spritzed again. And again. He was not pleased, mostly because it made the sides of the sink slippery, but he didn’t seem to be in any kind of mortal distress. I guess it is the 410th Formula that is the lethal one.
“What if he crawled in my bed?” My daughter asked.
“He wouldn’t do that,” I said, as much to reassure myself as her. I pictured myself opening one eye on a lazy morning and seeing the scorpion staring at me on the pillow. I focused on keeping my breath even. “Scorpions like moisture, that’s why you always find them near drains.”
She was mollified. I kept on squirting, and it kept doing no good.
I didn’t want to take my eye off him, but it was time to get bigger guns.
I looked at my daughter, who cowered behind me, wanting to watch the enemy vanquished but not wanting to be vanquished herself. “Go get your father,” I commanded. She scampered off to the back porch, where he was doing his Sunday morning outdoor puttering.
He came in with his chest swollen, reeking of testosterone. He assessed the situation, turned a cup upside down, trapping the scorpion inside to give him some time to collect his weapons. He then poured boiling water on it and plucked it out of the sink with barbecue tongs and into another cup filled with rubbing alcohol to seal its demise.
He was unpanicked and clearheaded.
My husband, a pain in the rear in a lot of situations, is definitely the guy you want around in an emergency.
My daughter, who has lived with me her entire life tentatively said, “Times like these I’m not always sure I’m a feminist 100%.” She looked crushed to have to speak those words and afraid of how I might respond.
“We all have different roles,” I said. “Men can’t breastfeed. None of us can do everything.”
She thought about it a minute. “Like how Daddy can’t find anything in the refrigerator?”
“Right. My job is to find stuff, and he kills scorpions. In some families, it’s probably opposite, where the Mom is the scorpions slayer and the Dad finds stuff.”
She thought about that for a minute and said, “I don’t think so.”
“Look. You don’t think Ms. Diane or Ms. June could handle a scorpion? I’ve killed scorpions before. Daddy’s just better at it than me, and if he’s around why should I? We all just need to play to our strengths and not feel badly about it or how it plays into traditional gender roles.”
“No,” she said. “That’s not what I meant. I don’t think there are men who can find stuff.”
“If there are,” I said, “I’ve never found one.”
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com , on Twitter, or on Facebook. Lori is a National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 Columnist winner, and a New Apple, Readers’ Favorite, and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.” She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.”
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