na foine ting

Friday, September 02, 2005
Briton Finds Venomous Centipede in House

I read this today, and had to laugh.

This poor guy. Nine inch venomous centipede, and he thinks somehow he's had a close encounter with something really significantly scary.

In Western Samoa, there's two kinds of centipedes.

There's a little red kind, about two inches long max, that moves like lightning and can kill you with a sting, depending on your level of allergy and how much panicking the people around you do before they get you to the hospital.

The other kind of centipede you find in Samoa is big, and brown, and ranges from a paltry eight or nine inches on up to a good foot and a half.

And my friends, when you're a kid only four or so feet tall, a foot and a half of centipede is a lot of damn centipede indeed.

We found one of these monstrous bastards in the laundry hamper one day. Or rather I found one, and alerted my mom and everyone else in a radius of a mile or so with a lot of screaming. My mom, who cut her teeth on third world insects with five inch flying cockroaches in Burma a decade earlier, arrived, and did the first sensible and obvious thing, which was to slam the lid of the hamper back down.

Then she did the next sensible and obvious thing, which was to put the laundry in the washer. With soap.


We sat by the washer, breathless and exhilarated, imagining the centipede, all 20 or so inches, banging around in there with the soap and towels and panties.

Eventually the washer came to a stop. My mother carefully, carefully lifted the lid, and peered inside. There was no evidence of the centipede, so she went and got a pair of tongs from the kitchen and fished around in there a bit. I guessed from the sudden leap backwards and the clatter of the tongs to the floor that she'd found him.

She banged the lid of the washer back down, and punched the start button in a somewhat frantic fashion.

"He's still alive," she said.

Three washes later, the centipede continued to undulate sluggishly, down at the bottom of the bin with the by now very, very clean clothes.

There was nothing to be done but to get Claus Winkler and the gardner. "Bug!" my mother yelled out the back door. They came along by and by, expecting the worst and duly armed with cigarettes, scotch, and a machete.

The gardner removed the still-writhing centipede from the washer with the tongs, while Claus looked on and smoked thoughtfully.

"That's a damned big one," he said, and took a drink of his scotch.

We all paraded out to the back stoop, where the gardner set the centipede down on the cement, and hacked it into twenty or so inch-long pieces with the machete.

The ice in Claus' glass clinked as it melted.

One by one, most of the pieces of centipede crawled off the cement and away.

Put that in a baggie, you silly Briton.
You ain't seen nothing, nothing at all, I'm telling you. Nothing.
And every one of those pieces went on to become a very angry full grown 20 inch bug. Except for the one that wrote a book and got it off of his chest. . .uh . . thorax. or something. That's the kind of thing that will show up in a bad movie with Christan Slater in it. . . . .or Kevin Bacon. Maybe you could write it. . . . . .No?
I was doing just fine with this whole story--until the chopped-up pieces wriggled away.


oh my god... I like bugs, a lot... but a bug like that would do me in.


great story, Kate.
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