Me vs. Nature

Well, this morning, I had a little incident.  Do you see this picture of the petrified lizard?  Not sure how long ago he kicked the bucket, or how long his corpse has been waiting around on the back porch to make me scream, but I believe his mission is accomplished!

Dating back to when I was about 2 years old, I have memories of being afraid of rodents and creatures.  Now don’t get me wrong…I LOVE animals and the beautiful ways Mother Nature shows off!  I think some animals are quite fascinating to watch.  I have a true appreciation for all creatures…..as long as some of them don’t come near me.  When I was 2, my family moved into a new home, and a lot of houses were being built in the neighborhood at the time.  Field mice were scattering, and the first year we lived in that house, my father caught 26 mice!  Some of my earliest memories are of my mother standing on the kitchen counter, screaming for my father to kill a mouse.  I’m pretty sure this traumatized me, but I also think rodents know just who to terrify.  They’ve probably even created a drinking game about scaring certain humans!

My experiences after that might be normal for some people, but for someone like me, it’s sealed into my memory forever, and has helped to amp up my fears!

One night at church camp, when I was about 10, we got to sleep outside under the stars.  We were telling ghost stories, and I looked up to see whiskers directly in front of my pillow!  I screamed and buried my head under my covers (this seems to be a strategy I go to frequently).  It was just a baby mouse, but why did he need to listen to the stories in front of MY pillow?

Another time, I was about 13, and was waiting at my grandmother’s house alone.  She was in the hospital, and I was waiting for my parents to come back.  I got up to go to the kitchen, and felt something under my foot, but didn’t pay much attention to it.  When I came back from the kitchen, I saw something smooshed (is that a word?) into the carpet.  I couldn’t tell what it was, until I got closer, and my nose was about 6 inches from it….I saw a tail attached to it.  I had flattened a mouse!  I screamed, but realized no one was there, and I wasn’t going to be rescued.  I ran to the other room, and stood on a chair, while I called my sister, who lived across town.  Now, I knew this wasn’t a good plan, but it was the only plan I had.  Guess what she said?  She said she wasn’t driving across town to pick up a dead mouse!  I can’t blame her, but I needed sympathy!  So I put newspapers all around it to keep the dog away, and sat on the other end of the living room until someone could come pick it up. Finally, my Uncle Chuck came, and picked it up.  Of course, before disposing of it, he waved it in my face while I screamed some more.

As I grew up, I had a few other instances with mice occasionally, such as one scratching my leg when I picked up dirty laundry from the floor.  Or finding one in a bag of dog food.

Then there were the bats.  Before anyone defends them, they are just flying mice, and don’t belong in a house!  Ok, ok…..go eat the mosquitoes, but stay the hell out of my house!  My parents caught a bat in our attic door in our house we lived in while I was in high school.  Then when I was married to my ex husband, I woke up one night to feel something brush across my face.  Then I heard a fluttering sound.  I hid under the covers, cried, and woke up my ex.  His reaction?  He put his head under the covers too!  He finally got up to find a tennis racket, and told me to go downstairs.  Our son was about 8 at the time, and he got up to help.  After missing it a few times, my ex finally got it, and the bloody bat landed on one of his baseball hats.  Yuck.  We had two or three more, and one was when I was home alone (my ex was gone a lot, and I was home with the kids by myself for several years).  I woke up one night to hear that familiar fluttering sound in my bedroom.  I was terrified, and wanted to just move out of the house right then in the middle of the night.  Again, I crawled under the covers, and cried.  Finally, I admitted I had to take care of it myself.  I had heard stories about people getting bats caught in their hair.  I’ve also heard this doesn’t happen, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I put on a motorcycle helmet, stood on the bed with a tennis racket, and a t-shirt and underwear, and cried, while swatting at the flying rodent circling me.  I swung the racket a few times, and missed.  Finally I got it, and had to scoop it up to dispose of outside.

Now that I live in Florida, I’m dealing with lizards on a near daily basis.  Every day, I have to walk to my car before the sun comes up, and go past these icky little lizards that look nearly transparent.  They hang around right outside the front door, on the bricks, where they really blend in.  They’re pinkish/whitish in color, and are so incredibly creepy!  On these mornings, I have encountered lizards (of all colors) and frogs, and neither really seem to be afraid of me.  I think they probably have little alarm clocks, and they say, “Ok, it’s Lauri time!  Here she comes, fellas!” and they clink their beer glasses together to do a toast!  Al always walks me to my car in the morning.  I used to think it was to scare away the critters.  Now I think it’s to see my reaction to whatever might be lurking out there.  I have done some pretty awesome dance moves, that would be worthy of the Soul Train line dance!  I had a bird dive bomb my head one day.  I’ve had little wet tree frogs land on top of my bare feet while I’m wearing sandals.  I’ve had lizards and frogs scurry into the car when I open the door, and never see them again.  Is there a reptile/amphibian grave yard in my car?  A convention? Where do they end up going?  Are they waiting until there is a whole team of them, so they can do a mass attack on me someday?

I do learn a thing or two about creatures, and how to handle them through all of this.  For instance, if I turn on the porch light, and bang on the door before walking out, the scary “ghost lizards” will scurry up into the roof over the porch.  I also learned that spiders can hear.  They don’t generally bother me, but if they catch me by surprise, I might jump or scream.  One good long blood curdling scream will cause a spider to jump!  That’s how I know they can hear!

Between birds, mice, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, bats, and rats, I have some huge phobias.   I looked to see if there is one phobia that encompasses all of these things, and they are a lot of little phobias. I think I’m bordering on having “panophobia,” which is the fear of everything!

Yes, little petrified lizard from my porch this morning, you successfully terrified me in your crispy state.  You really could have scared me without touching my finger, but I guess it was more fun for you that way.  Attention all creatures great and small….unless you are a friendly dog, please keep a safe distance from me.  I’m getting older now, and my heart might not be as strong in the future.

“Therapy helps, but screaming obscenities is faster and cheaper!” -unknown


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