I'm going to jinx everything by saying this, but Phoenix is The Place To Be. We don't get hurricanes (unless you count that little weak-sister scare we had a few years back that was supposed to come charging up the Sea of Cortez and level the city and instead dropped maybe a half-inch of rain) nor do we routinely encounter earthquakes, tornadoes or Snowmageddon.

We do, however, get scorpions.

There's something so viscerally frightening about them that when I see them I get so unhinged that I seek refuge like a hysterical, stereotypical elephant facing down a mouse. But there's this True Fact: I'm not a complete weenie. In an office where I once worked, a mouse jumped on my shoulder and ran down my skirt and bare leg, and I was unfazed.

Another True Fact: Years ago the kids and I found a dead scorpion in the kitchen right before we were leaving for school and work. The kids certified that it was, indeed, pushing up little arthropod daisies.

I was not so certain and suggested that we drop a massive dictionary on it to make sure, as the last thing I wanted was a vengeful, crippled (or worse yet, zombie) scorpion stalking me late at night.

The deed done, I was faced with another dilemma because now I was going to have to deal with a crushed scorpion, but my phobia is such that I couldn't even do that. I called, not Dad, Interrupted, who would only laugh hysterically at me (because he was safe at work where there were no scorpions lurking about his desk), but a good friend who offered to stop by and dispose of the cadaver on his way to work.

Suffice it to say that the scorpion population of Ahwatukee and I have enjoyed an understanding these many years: They stayed outside and appeared in the house only in corpse format, and I didn't render them into corpses. This was a perfectly workable arrangement until last night.

I had retired and, as is my wont, was reading in bed when I realized the blanket was scratchy. I shoved it away. Minutes later I noticed in annoyance that it was scratching my elbow. Seconds later I realized to my horror that it wasn't the blanket that was bothering me and that I was, in fact, not alone in that bed and that it was, in fact, a big ol' scorpion the size of a Buick crawling across the sheet right toward me.

I'm 51 years old and have a knee that sounds like a wad of crinkling cellophane when I walk, but I am telling you that I shrieked like a little girl and did that cartoon trick of leaping into the air and cycling my legs in frenzied panic just like Shaggy when Scooby-Doo sees a ghost as I fled into the bathroom until Dad, Interrupted raced to my rescue.

He found me whimpering in the shower, wondering how in the heck I was going to sleep with scorpions dropping on me and where in the heck I could find a black light at 11 p.m. and where in the heck was that dictionary?

The Last True Fact: I am a Scorpio. Go figure.

It could have been worse: I could have been born in May.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at elizabethann40@hotmail.com. Her column appears monthly.

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