Without question, the worst part of living in Niger is the abundant population of Creepy-Crawlies. I've had more than my share of misadventures with scorpions, maggots, cockroaches, the famed midjin kanama, snakes, earwigs, grasshoppers, and locust. And those are only the ones I've written about!
Apart from the occasional ant or termite that gets lost and wanders into my house, the bugs have actually been living according to our truce: they don't come inside, and I ignore them when I see them outside.
That is, until the other night.
It was late and I was turning on my fans (yes, plural) for the night. As I walked to my bed, I spotted my laundry basket on the floor. It was full of freshly folded clothes that my amazing and wonderful househelper R. had folded for me. Feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness for this servant-hearted joyful woman that helps take such good care of me, I started to pray 'Oh thank you God for R.! Without her I wouldn't be able to live in Niger! My clothes would be dirty all the time and so would my hou---WHAT THE!?!?!? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE!?!? OH NO YOU DON'T!'
There, sticking out from under my basket was a long spine that forked at the end. Attached, were thousands of skinny hairy legs.
He knew he had been spotted, so he lay there, still . . . probably hoping that playing-dead would lead me to turn off my light, hop in bed, and whisper a sweet eulogy for this dearly-departed invader.
He couldn't have been more wrong.
Like a raging lunatic, I ripped a stray flipflop from its resting place near the basket (cause Lord knows I didn't want bug-guts on the bottom of the ones I was already wearing!). I lifted my shoe-turned-club above my head and swung.
There's a reason I only played one season of softball in middle school before permanently switching to soccer.
I've never been good with a bat.
My nemesis slowly inched himself further through the webbing of my plastic basket.
'WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?!?!' I threatened him, as I lifted the basket up a few inches from the floor, then slammed it on the gray painted concrete below.
This time his legs raced in unison. I lifted and slammed again, this time with swift repetitive blows, hoping to crush him in two . . . or three . . . or a million.
When I finally calmed down enough from my slamming-rage to check the floor for splattered-guts, there was nothing.
My brain caught up with my sympathetic fight-reaction and I switched to flight, dropped the basket and jumped onto the bed.
If he wasn't smushed, WHERE WAS HE?!?!
I leapt off the bed and rushed to the phone. I dialed Cool-J and informed her that I wouldn't be alone tonight. Not that I thought she could actually do anything, but sometimes, when it comes to irrational fears, it just helps to have someone who will know the background story should I show up half-eaten by a millipede the next morning.
Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. My imagination had a field-day playing games with my body . . . DID SOMETHING JUST CRAWL UP MY LEG?!?!?! IS THERE SOMETHING WALKING IN MY HAIR?!?!? Yeah, it was a long night.
But the worst part came in the morning. Needing a zunni and scrub top for work, I began to lift items from the basket. Pinching each one with a long-extended arm, I lifted the articles from the basket and shook them. When I was satisfied that it was millipede-less, I flung it on the bed.
Eventually I arrived at the bottom of the basket.
Which, of course, has lead me to the natural conclusion that he is still here, hiding in a dark corner, waiting for the ideal moment to jump out and scare the living daylights out of me.