Several years ago I was lying in the basement of my new house when I swore I could hear a helicopter. I say "new" house. There wasn't anything remotely new about it. But it was new in the sense that I had just bought it. Technically speaking if you pick this story up a few months later then all of it became new. But at that point - after breaking in and climbing over the mountains of shit I had found in it - it was new to me. That's when the floor gave way. And I ended up lying in the basement. At which point I realized that one entire wall of the house was riddled with bees. Hence the helicopter sound. After an immensely frustrating time of finding huge hive after hive of honey bees in every fucking wall I had to make a decision. Especially after getting rid of them and them continuously showing up and trying to move back. So I ripped all the walls off the house. All of them. And the roof. And the floors.
|I hit the window ledge and they spilled out like a demented horror movie.|
|Yes. Rowing and horse riding in one actual, real photo.|
I didn't shop around for my first apartment in Arizona. I mean - how bad could it be really? I'm not too delicate to live in a cheaper place in a more working class area of town. But I really should have twigged that the price of $450 a month and the incessant buzzing of police helicopters overhead was an indication of the value of that neighborhood. But some days it wasn't so bad. I knew a few of my neighbors and they were nice people. Except the guy who looked exactly like his dog. And his dog looked like it had been burned in a bleach accident. One day I came hom from work and saw a beetle on the wall. Except it wasn't a beetle. It was a cockroach. And when I went to get a closer look it jumped. The bastard tried to blind me and then make a run for it. So I immediately drove to Home Depot and bought a five gallon jug of deltamethrin and sprayed every inch of that fucking apartment. Good lord was I smug. I knew from my battle with the bees that I will win. I could not be bested. Two days later I walked into my bathroom and there was a bug in my bathtub. A few hours after that I'd piled everything I owned into the center of my living room - covered everything in tarps - and set off four bug bombs in my apartment. According to the instructions for the square footage in my place I'd likely only need two at best. But I opted for the Israeli option - one minor transgression and I was going to go well overboard and make sure anything in the adjoining three apartments was going to be brutally massacred as well. After the fogger had cleared everything in my place a sheen on it like it had been rubbed with deli ham. I didn't let my kids sleep in there for a fortnight just to be careful. But I had won. Three weeks later I found a bug on inside of the balcony door. And I seriously considered burning down the entire apartment complex.
So as I sat in that room and that ex-military man revealed to this ignorant fool that there are parading mobs of demented, feral skunk-pigs (called javelinas) that chase people they can tell are on there own, I once again decided that Arizona is fucking bananas. I haven't heard any stories from friends here about how they were hiking and they were alarmed by an absurdly cuddly kitten. Or sat at home marveling at how it's April and the pool is already open - but on arrival they found a guinea pig next to it. No. All of the stories I hear involve "...but luckily I got to the hospital quickly enough for them to save my foot." The first time I hiked Camelback someone playfully told me there was a mountain lion somewhere on it. That mountain is entirely surrounded by swanky suburbs. The local Game and Fishing Department even have a handy pamphlet you can take home to help in case you spot one. There are creatures that live here that are of a Hieronymus Bosch level of demented. I've seen an emo bee. Seriously. A gargantuan, black bee the size of a Mini Cooper (that might be a slight exaggeration). And I've seen a tarantula wasp that I momentarily thought must be some sort of hairy pterodactyl. And this weekend I saw my first scorpion. Not in my apartment - thank God. This place would be dust already. But I was getting my mail when the perpetrator was witnessed tampering with my apartment mailboxes (a Federal crime, by the way). Obviously I dealt with the situation calmly and bravely. By yelling, "UNACCEPTABLE" and throwing a bill feebly at someone else also getting their mail.
I don't like creatures that hand around gangs. Beasts are supposed to be territorial. Not want others about. But ones that work together clearly have a plan. And must be treated with utmost suspicion. Hence my healthy suspicion of bees, ants and roaches. And now javelinas. All of which don't remotely hold a candle to the epitome of Borg-like satanic evil that are penguins. Those fuckers are clearly up to something. Hanging around in secret far from everyone. All aware that they have a job to do. Which is clearly to wait for the moment to strike. The sad thing is that people think I'm joking about penguins. Think about whatever creature you are irrationally afraid of. That's me with penguins. Except it isn't irrational. After all - you don't get an article in The Guardian about how the were witnessed wantonly violating their own dead for no reason.
After I'd rebuilt the house I bought in New York - with bee proof walls, floors and a roof - I set to digging up my backyard. I had grand ideas about landscaping. And despite getting deeply suspicious warnings from more than one of the prior occupants about digging in the backyard, I carried on with it. And dear God I ended up with a beautiful yard. But I can admit that during that damn, hard work that a fleeting terror bothered me for the months it took me. And that was that during the digging I'd uncover an almost exact replica of the terrocotta army uncovered in Shaanxi province in China.
|This is what my local Starbucks is like if I go on a Saturday lunchtime.|
Instead thought I didn't find anything remotely as awful Just a bunch of dead animals and a disturbing number of what might have been human bones. Not kidding. But no penguins. Thank fuck. And whilst I am aware that my behavior at that time to any intrusive bug that dared come anywhere near my home was probably very Netanyahu-esque - it isn't remembered that way. No. Because this past week I've had a mosquito in my apartment and I've had fits of apocalyptic rage trying to catch the bastard. Whereas my memory of my family and bugs in New York is very much like this,
If that was Arizona that would look very different. It wouldn't be green for a start. And learly everyone is far too overdressed. And instead of a harmless bug on the wall that would be one of my kids clinging to it for dear life as they were surrounded by a marauding gang of Mormon (statistically speaking it's probably likely around here) death-pigs.