I’m not scared of many things.
This used to trouble my mother somewhat, as I had a bit of a daredevil attitude – unlike my more cautious and timid sister, I didn’t have enough sense to be afraid of getting hurt. I would generally be the one doing reckless things like:
- clambering over dangerously wet rocks in search of limpets as the waves crashed around me
- falling out of trees into patches of nettles (yep, that happened)
- hurtling down hills in a cardboard box clumsily attached to a skateboard in an attempt to design my own race car
- getting yelled at to come back in when I swam much too far out of my depth in the sea
- flinging myself on a snarling Rottweiler in order to stop it from attacking my cat (and that one was just last summer)
- having to be rescued from a swimming pool by my father after my latest cool stunt involving the slide went disastrously wrong
You get the picture. A great sense of adventure, and none of the necessary accompanying common sense. I’m not scared of heights, the ocean, bad people, or animals. I have been held firmly back by cable car companions who insisted I was leaning too far out, and once remarked to a surprised friend that I don’t know if I’d be able to control my urge to cuddle a polar bear if I ever met one.
But alas! there are chinks in my armor. Two, in fact. The first is cotton wool, but I really don’t think we need to get into that one again. And the other?
Insects. I try to claim that I simply hate them, and that that’s very different from being scared of them, but it’s a lie. I’m terrified of them. And not just the ones that can hurt me, like mosquitoes and wasps. I mean all insects. The winged ones are the worst, because they can suddenly fly at you from nowhere and take you by surprise, but all of them are hateful. Most people are more scared of mice and rats, but although I don’t exactly love those, to me they’re nowhere near as bad as crawly things. You can see a single rat and deal with it. But insects? They swarm. I mean, you could get into a situation where hundreds of them could be swarming all over you, and what can you do then other than shriek and scream and leap around hitting yourself pointlessly? :::pause to shudder::: I remember an episode of The X Files where all these tiny green bugs were killing people by swarming over them and wrapping them in cocoons, and it scared me more than all the alien/monster/serial killer/scary mutant psychopath episodes combined.
Anyway, an unfortunate side effect of the heat and humidity in Korea is the presence of more insects than I’ve ever encountered before. You hear them constantly, and if you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time leaping out of your seat and squealing, or stopping mid-sentence to shriek and flap around. Irish Friend One has just finished (he hopes) fighting a war against ants that recently took over his home. And the other morning I got out of bed, walked sleepily towards the kitchenette to get some coffee, and yelled the place down when I found this creature staring at me:
If I hadn’t been so utterly terrified I would have held something up beside it for scale, because you can’t tell how enormous it was from this. I have seen smaller mice. Seriously. And it was wearing its shiny armor and it had horrible big horns and it was just sitting there on the (life-saving) screen of my open window, staring in at me. I hopped around desperately in my nightie for a while, just whimpering in fear, and I believe I did actually say out loud the words “What do you want from me?!” .
Anyway, then tonight I discovered why it is a bad idea to leave a piece of rotting fruit at the top of a full rubbish bin and go away for a couple of days. My apartment is fruit fly city. I’ve heard it said that if you see one, then you can count on there being a hundred. Well, I’ve seen dozens of them, and as a result of doing that nice little calculation in my head I will never be able to sleep again for the rest of my life.
Although it was late and I’d just gotten home from a weekend of teacher training seminars and workshops, and was tired and in need of a shower and a glass of wine and bed with a good book, I spent the next few hours cleaning my apartment from top to bottom. I didn’t realise how late it was until I ran down to the shop in a frenzy to buy rubbish bags (I even threw out the bin because I couldn’t cope with cleaning it with all the things crawling and hatching in it), which I couldn’t remember the word for and could only manage the Korean for “trash”, and the guy who works there looked at me with the sort of look that very clearly says “Why on earth is this flustered and panicked-looking red and sweaty woman bursting in here at 1am in filthy clothes and chanting ‘trash’ at me?”.
Everything is sparkling clean but they’re still cruising around my room like they own it. I cannot cope with this. I may have to leave and go sleep in a jimjilbang. After cleaning and throwing away pretty much everything they were crawling on, I then did some online research and learned how to construct a fruit fly trap using some soy sauce and a paper cone. I disturbed a fruit fly when I lifted the soy sauce bottle off the shelf for this purpose, and in my involuntary leap backwards banged my head on the corner of a stupidly positioned cupboard, and now I have blood in my hair and a hole in my head for the flies to crawl into and lay eggs in my brain.
I have just inspected my trap. They are supposed to be crawling into the bottle through the paper funnel in order to get to the soy sauce, and then be unable to find the exit because it’s too small. However, instead they appear to be congregating around the outside of the paper cone and looking dopily at the soy sauce, unaware that they can easily just crawl in.
It is just my luck that the fruit flies that choose to invade my apartment are brain dead.