Thursday, June 18, 2015

This Land Is Their Land

A month or so ago I grabbed my phone to take a photo of a lizard I could see on the wall outside my apartment.

I remember years ago seeing Steven Irwin over-excitedly state that eight out the ten most dangerous reptiles in the world lived in Australia. Then - gurning with genuine misplaced pride - he went on to gush that they were also loose in his house. Not only that but he gave the distinct impression that he had absolutely no choice in the matter. They'd just wandered in. And there was bugger all he could do about it. Then - as he wandered around his basement with a headlamp on hoping to bump into one or two of them - I remember thinking, "why the fuck haven't you moved?" Of course the answer to that was that he lived in Australia - an entire country that screams "you're not supposed to live here." I'm fairly good with geography and world culture. So if I'm not mistaken it's my impression that the Australian outback is a massive, uninhabitable wasteland that is riddled with killer Drop Bears, demented car gangs and of course, Joe Mangle. More importantly though is it was Steve Irwin. Nobody would have been surprised to have flicked Animal Planet on and seen Irwin enthusiastically guff out, "Look I'm penetrating this Gila monster!!"If anyone would have dangled their willy in a pond filled with Candiru it would have been Irwin.

"The fish in my urethra is THIS BIG!!!"
Now of course I live in Arizona. A vast, mostly uninhabitable wasteland. Which is also riddled with freakish creatures that clearly should not have been let onto the Ark. Believe whatever you like about the Old Testament. But the notion that Noah didn't open up a closet one day and find a scorpion or a cockroach and didn't immediately burn the entire boat makes no sense to me. I'm not aware so much of demented car gangs. I am aware that everyone seems to have bought a personalized license plate. And that indicating seems to be illegal in Arizona. Haven't  seen a 1973 Ford XB Falcon though.  I do live quite close to an Outback Steakhouse though.

A friend of mine told me about something called roof rats. Which I obviously thought they'd made up. There's too much alliteration there for those to be real. Then weirdly a day or so later my daughter mentioned that her mother had to cut down an orange tree in the yard because the neighbor has roof rats. It's an odd feeling to learn from a seven year old that instead of squirrels we now in a place where there are rats seen bounding about in trees. Also the first sentence in that link reeks of the prejudicial aspect of Maricopa County, Arizona - ramming home the point that this pestilence is foreign and shouldn't be here. Go on. Read the bit about them being "an undesirable colonist" and try not to think about a Fox News report about Mexicans. 

A very, very white man

I've had all kinds of people tell me about finding scorpions in their house. And that I should buy one of those black lights they use on Criminal Minds to find where all the semen and blood had been spattered at a crime scene before the serial killer cleaned it all up. Apparently then you can see any hidden in your house without having to wander about looking for them. You know - in that way that people in horror movies do when they hear a gurgling, growl in the basement so decide to go nervously look for it in just their knickers. I haven't come across any. And I literally mean I haven't seen any. That's not a call back to the Criminal Minds black light reference. Plus I live in an apartment building that you wouldn't necessarily call upscale. I'm loathe to get a blacklight and turn it on in here because I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find a pentagram drawn on the ceiling in jizz (really - some people can ejaculate that high) signed by Joe Mangle.

Anyhoo - I was sat in my living room one day and saw some movement on the wall outside. Now - I've been in this place long enough to know if I see something move out of the corner of my eye that I need to get up and grab the five gallon drum of Deltamethrin and spray gun that I felt the need to buy. First up - let's be clear. I do NOT have cockroaches. Right after I moved in I did get freaked out when I found a weirdly-behaving beetle thing running around. Then a few weeks later another one. That was enough for me - I called the apartment office and told them to come sort it out.

Some of you may know that I once bought a house filled with bees. As in the entire wall cavity on one side was choc-a-bloc with honeycomb. So many bees in fact that after having someone come and take away seven (yes.....seven) bee hives over a period of time, that when I was remodeling and hit the windowsill with a hammer that hundreds of honey bees started leaking through the cracks in the sill. More bee hives were removed. Bees kept coming back. And I went from being the tolerant, even-minded person I was (aware of the current plight of honey bee populations - which in hindsight was simply explainable on the basis that they'd all moved to my house) to going the Israeli Option. That being when you feel attacked by a tiny subset group you react by not just destroying it, but also burning all the surrounding ten-square mile region to ashen-dust regardless of whatever else is there. In short - one day I found another bee swarm in my house so I ripped the entire exterior wall off. Then all of them. Right down to the struts and studs. And got my neighbor Larry to come over and we sprayed unpronounceable, chemical evil on everything. And then - just fort good measure - I set fire to the barn/aircraft hangar thing a half-mile up the hill on my property just in case. Basically I went mental. Think John Goodman in The Big Lebowski and you're probably in the right ball park.

Anyway - the point is now if I think bugs are invading my home I know deep inside that I must destroy them all. And the neighbors. And - fuck it - let's just set fire to Scottsdale as well. On this occasion though I don't own my place. So I can't go ripping open walls or deciding to replace the entire kitchen and bathroom on the basis that whilst I'm at it I can also murder anything I find. So I called the apartment office instead. Gave them a lot of, "goodness me and golly gosh" Hugh Grant foppishness and that was that. Next morning a delightful man showed up with a scuba-tank filled with Bug Death. Think John Goodman in Arachnophobia. First thing he said when I opened the door was, "well - you don't have roaches." When I asked how he knew he gruesomely told me, "oh - you'd know." Apparently if you have those they smell unmistakeable. Then he wandered around every room spraying along the ground of all four walls. After a few "so what did you see?" questions he confidently told me that what I saw are annoying but not roaches. Then asked if I had seen a roach at all. I said I wasn't sure. Again he laughed that I'd know if I'd seen a roach.

So. Every now and again I'll see these annoying bugs in my place. The dude that sprayed said that they basically come in from another apartment. One where the person there really doesn't give a shit. But - and underline with fat, bold marker pen - definitely not cockroaches. And when I do I kill them. Then spray the entire apartment and clean everything with bleach (can't get that fucking pentagram off the ceiling though). Then the guy told me to get a cat. Apparently they work better than anything for all your HUMANS NOT WELCOME creatures of Arizona. It certainly explains the ridiculous number of wild cats you see. Seriously- it's mental. So maybe soon enough. Not in this neighborhood though. Would just seem like I'd be leaving the poor bugger to chill in his own filth.

Don't mind me.

Which leads me to seeing that lizard wobbling along on the wall outside. I've seen a few cute, little gecko things buzzing around places I've been. And the odd chuckwalla. And for whatever, innate selective reason I don't think they're creepy or invading. So I grabbed my phone, turned the camera on and went to take a picture. And HOLY FUCK NO. Unmistakeable is right. I'm not kidding - this cockroach was the size of a child's shoe. And I was taken over. No - it wasn't in my house. And no - it wasn't even touching my building. But I methodically went and picked up that five-gallon drum of Bug Massacre and wandered outside and made sure that fucker was dead. And that the entire wall was dead. And the surrounding walls of my building. Then went inside and sprayed EVERYTHING.

To be fair I've met a lot of people born and raised here who say they've never seen roaches or scorpions.  So that's nice. And more importantly - I'm moving in a month. To somewhere where I very quickly brought up the aspect of home invaders. I didn't phrase it as "I'm sure you won't mind if I deliberately burn this entire suburban block down." But the essence of that was in there. Plus I've been very much assured I'm not going to be seeing weird lizards, creepy crawly evil or roof rats there. And I better not. Or at least they better hope not. Or I may have to unleash...

Just to be clear - I am not threatening to jizz on the ceiling


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