It was my first “big girl” apartment, my first summer in Chicago, and my first night at home without my roommates. I was sitting on my bed watching “Weeds” on Netflix when, out of the corner of my eye, I detected a small movement. I managed to turn my attention from Nancy Botwin’s dramatic, suburban-drug-dealer life and fixed my eyes on the doorway.
That’s when I saw it.
A freaking centipede, scuttling along the wall above the door. I think I’ll call him Victor (with a Russian accent) because that sounds semi-sinister.
I watched that sucker make his way around the corner and onto the wall right across from my bed, then down, down, down the wall to the floor. His movements were deliberate. Victor was not taking leisurely nighttime stroll along my wall—he was on a mission.
He scurried along the hardwood floor straight at me. I tried to look as threatening as possible by hugging my knees to my chest and rocking back and forth. My battle cry was but a small, pathetic whimper.
Exhausted by my feeble attempt at bravery, I resigned myself to the impending doom of my poor, pathetic life. I accepted that I’d die a coward, without any dignity or glory. I had even made things easy for my attacker—my 2-inch-high IKEA bed frame hardly discouraged nighttime attacks from creepy crawlies.
Hey Victor, I’m as close to the ground as possible…come eat my skin!
So petrified I literally could not coax my limbs into action, I squeezed my eyes shut and let the weight of my imminent demise envelop me. I tried to conjure up peaceful images of bottomless coffee, puppies, flowers, or puppies drinking coffee in fields of flowers so my last moments could be filled with bliss and serenity.
Unfortunately for me, the terror was too much for my brain and it short-circuited. It went into horror-film mode, turning my already-paralyzing situation into something not even the “Jigsaw Killer” could stomach.
In my dark little fantasy, Victor lept off his haunches—apparently my subconscious thinks centipedes have haunches?—and opened his enormous jaws as wide as he could, emitting an ear-splitting screech and devouring my entire body in a single bite. (Think nightmarish Gila monster).
I whipped my eyes open and found that I was still alive—but barely breathing—and couldn’t find the centipede. I decided I needed to strategize.
I launched myself off the bed before Victor could return to finish me off. I grabbed a slipper from my closet and, as I sprinted back to my IKEA fortress, thought to myself, “A slipper? My murder weapon of choice is a slipper?” No wonder I’m always the first to die in those Zombie Apocalypse quizzes…
I made it back to my bed just as Victor charged out from underneath the tiny frame. I took a shaky breath and WHACK! WHACK WHACK WHACK! WHACK WHAAAACCCCKKKKK WHACK…WHACK!
I think I got him. I lifted up my slipper. Yeah, I definitely got him. Instead of allowing myself to enjoy a moment of reprieve and celebrate the sweetness of life, I sunk deeper into anxiety and insanity. What if Victor’s friends and family somehow knew I had just viciously ended their beloved’s life? What if they came for me?
I know how these things work. I’ve seen “The Princess Bride.”
Or, what if I had just killed Victor, King of Centipedes, and now centipedes of every nation, color and creed would take to the sewage pipes and pour out of my bathroom drain with the sole intention of revenge-murdering me, the soulless Centipede Killer?
It was all too much for my feeble, traumatized mind. I sat on my bed, pondering life and all its complexities when I thought to myself, “Hmm. I bet this is what a highly esteemed medical professional would deem an ‘irrational fear.’”
Struggling to accept my self-diagnosis, I fled to the kitchen and chugged a glass of my roommate’s Sweet Red wine—we’re both really classy—and managed to fall asleep before my overactive imagination rendered me forever sleepless.
For the record, I actually did dream about puppies, flowers, and iced lattes after all. I blame Nancy Botwin’s weird obsession and the Sweet Red’s insanely high, rot-your-teeth sugar content for my sweet, sweet dreams.