jews and shellfish


I’m not going to lie to you; I still think about it. All the time, actually. I can only get around it when I’m in another state. At home, no matter the season, I’m always on high alert, certain a scorpion will try to have his way with me. The times where I’ve actually been traveling, I always return home only to ask the house-sitter to fess up. "Come on, how many scorpions did you find while I was gone?" I actually don’t expect them to answer and instead think I’ll be greeted with a peculiar look.

ScorpionRecently Norma offered up the obligatory look of strange, then called me nearer. She then whispered to me, "Three, Miss Stephanie. Look, come look." She had saved them, two dead, one still alive, contained in a single Ziplock baggie. How she managed to get the scorpions to parade into her trap wasn’t my first concern. I began to flail, struggling uselessly, hoping my dramatics accurately conveyed my profound revulsion. My tongue, apparently, was involved. "No, look," she said pointing, "One got hungry and has begun to eat the other." I pretended I was a gay little boy who screamed, and then fainted, upon hearing Barbara Streisand was canceling her latest tour.

Norma was saving the scorpions for her thirteen-year-old son, and today, when I made a wrong turn driving, and twisted my face while simultaneously giving the finger to my GPS, I happened to make, what she called, "The Scorpion Face." What? "Yes, Miss Stephanie, you are very funny. I remember the face you a make when I show you the scorpion. You use your tongue. I like it. I told my husband."

Lobster The other night, alone in my bedroom with Phil downstairs, struggling to get the nanny-cams to work, I made my way to my bathroom, only to stop dead. There one was. Kinda orange. I had to squint, even though it was about the size of an appropriate portion of beef. The deck of cards sized scorpion didn’t move. Yet. I backed up and reached for the phone, keeping my eyes on the perp. "Phil" I intercomed, "You need to come upstairs immediately." As I waited, I wondered what I’d grab to kill it. Because scorpions aren’t exactly cute little salamanders that need escorting out the door. A leather-soled flip-flop, I determined. Once Phil was in the bedroom, uncertain as to why I’d beseeched him upstairs, I pointed. And the scorpion arched its tail, as if to sting. I have no doubt I made the scorpion face, but I was careful not to scream and wake the taters."Either that thing’s ready to sting, or he’s kinda sweet on you."

Phil slammed it with my shoe, and I walked with him to the bathroom, asking that he please forgo the trashcan and flush it away. "The whole reason I saw it was because I had to pee. I still have to pee."

"So go pee."

"No way! I can’t pee until you flush it!" Like I’m really going to sit while looking at the body of a scorpion between my legs?

Now, each and every time I enter the bathroom, I have to turn on the lights, even if it’s in the middle of the night. I check the sheets, every last shoe, and shake the towel from it’s hook before drying myself off. I am terrified I’ll find another one in my bed one day. I once found one, ALIVE, darting around in a make-up drawer! I can’t take it.

Ironically enough, today I’m wearing a lobster print skirt (it’s quite cute actually), very Fourth of July, and I now totally get why Jews won’t eat shellfish. Lobsters are the cockroaches of the sea, and they’re most certainly a cousin twice removed from the scorpion.



  1. Is the lobster skirt from J. Crew last season? If so it IS really cute. I still regret not buying it!

    FROM SK: Yes! I love it.

  2. I grew up in a town outside of Houston and have the EXACT same issue with cockroaches now because of those types of experiences. The last straw was waking up in the middle of the night with a 3 inch cockroach crawling up my nightgown when I was 15. I slept with the lights on for that entire summer and until we moved to Seattle in the fall. There aren't cockroaches up here and that is one of the biggest reasons why I'll never move away.

    Quick question re: the scorpions, though….Isn't there some sort of exterminator that can come and spray the place to kill them? I feel like there must be something that could keep them at bay. Also, do you have trees that hang over your roof? That might also be part of the problem…(Not that you wouldn't have investigated this already…I'm sure you've looked into everything!)

    Sorry about the infestation. I know and feel your pain deeply. :)

  3. To think you moved half way across the country to the burbs and NOW you have vermin problems. This only reinforces my suspicions that I will never really be ready to leave NYC. Bless my rent stabilized apartment in the ghetto!

  4. Ugh! I am SOOO moving back to California (blasted marriage to guy who's job relocated us to Austin!!)

    Is the skirt some kind of warding-off thing. Like the opposite of a scorpion rain dance?

  5. Ew. I get it.

    I was 8 months pregnant visiting his parents in Tennessee when I encountered a scorpion for the first time in my life. Middle of the night, in the bathroom, screamed bloody murder. I could not sleep that night. The next day I promptly told him that he was taking me home and that I never wanted to come to Tennessee again.

  6. I think SusanC mentioned an exterminator already. I know people who live in the Florida Keys & they have an exterminator on contract who comes out once a month to spray for the "Palmetto bugs" (roaches).

    FROM SK: Oh, believe me, we have a contract with Terminex. And they'll come out whenever we need them to. The problem? THEY CANNOT KEEP SCORPIONS AWAY! Something about having to attract them first. I don't know. Scary. When my sister lived in Charleston, I remember the "palmetto bugs." She lived in the back house of an old Southern colonial, and to walk from those quarters to the street, bugs would literally crawl over your foot! I'd run, even if I were in my most fragile high heels.

  7. That is so scary, can we see a picture of them? I remember my grandpa having some scorpions in a glass jar filled with alcohol, I don't really know what that was for, I'll have to ask my mom.

  8. I am the same exact way about waterbugs. I had too many experiences with them while living in NYC, and even though I haven't lived there in three years, I still get that same stop-dead-in-my-tracks thing when I even think I see something out of the corner of my eye. It was actually part of the reason I moved.

  9. When we moved from home sweet home New York
    To Scottsdale, Arizona's southwest.
    My husband refused to let me walk barefoot
    He was fairly, annoyingly obsessed.

    He grew up in the Scottsdale area,
    And warned me of the skittering critters.
    I scarcely believed him ("Not in the house!")
    But if there's one thing he's not, it's a quitter.

    I barely put up with the fuss at first —
    It could hardly be as bad as he thought.
    We lived in a house with WALLS, for pete's sake:
    Scorpions were no reason to get all distraught.

    But like you, I started seeing them soon
    In the corners, the kitchen, and bath.
    They seemed to be growing the size of my fist
    Along the nooks and the cracks and the paths!

    Look on the bright side: you've something I don't!
    For while my husband stands quite six feet tall,
    He professes a fear of all skittering creatures
    So my five-foot frame squashes them all!

    Oh, those carn-i-vorous arth-ro-pods,
    With their sharp-ly-pointed tails and claws!
    They sit still and pretend to be perfectly dead
    I see right through their ugly facades!

    Here's a tip for you, Stephanie Klein:
    Keep a bottle of hairspray on hand.
    It keeps them from running while you fetch a sneaker
    To squash them to Scorpion Land.

    I moved here, right after you hit Texas
    And as much as it's selfish to say this:
    It's nice to see another New Yorker
    Quite accurately write to portray this.

    Thanks for the post – I feel better knowing I'm not the only NY transplant to be terrorized by them! :-)

  10. Are nanny-cams de rigeur these days? I am reminded of the main character in "Flipping Out" and his "nanny-cam."

    Erin, I too wished I had bought the J.Crew lobster print skirt. I love their prints.

    Damn GPS: "Please make the first legal U-turn"–I hear it all the time in my car.

    As for the scorpions: I would be scared shitless too. Upon seeing a roach or a rodent(it has been years knock on wood), I do a little revulsion dance too, almost like an Irish jig version of "YMCA"–jumping up and down, screaming, and pointing.

    It is pretty much impossible to avoid "palmetto bugs" in Charleston. I hope it is not same for Austin and scorpions.

    WendieLiz–you get "commenter of the day" award.

  11. Might I suggest Aztec instead of Terminix? They're cheaper, they're ORGANIC (non-toxic, kids can lick the trips if they were so inclined, or so I hear!) and they will also come out whenever you need them to, as many times as you need them to. And no contracts!

  12. And yet another reason why I'm not moving out of the relatively vermin free, too cold for the big bugs unless they are Detroit City sewer roaches, Northern burbs.

  13. as mentioned in the past: GET A CAT OR TWO. Felines LOVE scorps, AND are naturally immune to their sting/venom, etc.

    FROM SK: Phil is allergic to cats and their personalities.

  14. Ahh! That picture alone makes me want to scream. I've heard the larger the scorpion, the less venomous they are.

    I had the same problem in my apartment here (in Austin) with cockroaches. The exterminator came and we never saw one again, but I was so paranoid of them crawling around my bathroom, I ended up moving to a high rise (where I pretend they can't crawl to).

  15. Move closer in to town. In 9 years here, I've never seen a scorpion, but I've always stuck close to Central Austin. The flip-side to that is that the roaches stick to the central part of town, but thanks to an exterminator, I haven't seen one in years. :)

    (Though I have had almost the exact same conversation about roaches and toilets… though in my case, I made him take the corpse outside to the trash in case it revived after I sat down on the toilet…)

  16. This may be helpful: Scorpions fluoresce under black light. Get a black light flashlight for when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and they'll glow bright as day.

    In related news, I'm a science nerd.

  17. OMG I'm totally freaking out right now…and WTF with that photo??

    I'm pretty sure I'm making a "scorpion face" right now. EEEP!

  18. Erin beat to the punch about the skirt, and regretting not buying it.

    Why the picture of the scorpion with its spawn? I just shivered a bit even though I'm far far away in New York. Actually, the scorpion spawn do remind me a bit of rice noodles.

  19. First, I like the "Miss Stephanie" thing. And isn't Norma hispanic? Does she say "Meese Stefan-nee"?

    Second, I have lived in Tucson, AZ over 20 years and have NEVER seen a scorpion – in my home; at the Sonoran Desert Museum, yes, but never in my home.

    And third, saw this in the lates issue of Vogue and thought of you:

    Cute story – icky thought of shaking through everything to look for critters. Ah, life in the Southwest…

  20. This may be helpful: Scorpions fluoresce under black light. Get a black light flashlight for when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and they'll glow bright as day.

    In related news, I'm a science nerd.

  21. At risk of repeating myself, I simply must. When my cute son was about 5 or 6, he wanted to go with his neighborhood friend and dad to go scorpion hunting. I figured it was sort of like 'dinosaur hunting' – perfectly harmless, a great way to get in the outdoors, no possibility of success. Until he came home with 3 live ones. So, we bought a terrarium, and started (against every girly value that I hold dear), studying the critters.

    We learned that the little ones are the most poisonous, but not usually death-inducing (unless through fear).

    I couldn't possibly let that terrarium stay in my sweet boy's room – but I got over it eventually. Pretty soon, feeding time (crickets) became a favorite pasttime, and once the natives died out, we started receiving big-assed African scorpions from his friends as gifts. One was about 4 inches long, dark red-black – named Black Cherry.

    Now – all that being said – I agree with the hairspray, hard shoes, Raid, or any other non-toxic to babies pesticide that you can spray on it until you can cover it with a glass to let Phil take care of. There must be *some* advantage to being married.

    PS – after the scorpion phase, we had a snake phase, then a dog. Now we're down to a hummingbird feeder in the back yard and I'm thinking even that is a bit high-maintenance.

  22. how about an indoor hairless cat? An outdoor cat? We feed four feral outdoor cats (we trapped them and had them fixed as 4 is plenty!)that help keep rodents/birds/scorpions away.

    I also 2nd Aztec – they are awesome! or ABC organic pest control. Both companies have done a great job for us.

  23. Suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic scorpion disorder). Lived in Austin (NJ transplant) for 2 years and I know EXACTLY what you are experiencing. Then moved to Houston…oh yeah, the roaches. Now back in NJ – bug-less, at least where I live.

  24. Wow, I totes have the heebie jeebies now. I always see cockroaches in shadows and even after I fully light the area I thought I saw them and determine it was my hallucinations (again) I concoct stories of how they escaped under the bed. ICKY!

  25. I'm moving into a house in the country and was just talking with someone about the hideous huge yellow-and-black spiders in the shrubs. I thought I was skeeved out BEFORE.

    And then I get HERE and oh my god, oh my god, there's a PICTURE of a SCORPION with her damn little maggoty BABIES riding on her back. (stomping and scraping at my skin and squealing, freaked-out-chick style). Damn you, Stephanie Klein! (chuckle.)

    I am tough as they come and nature doesn't freak me out. But spiders are the end of me. And scorpins are spiders with stingers as far as I'm concerned.

  26. Holy cannoli, you have officially given me the creepy crawlies for the ENTIRE NIGHT.

    BABY SCORPIONS?!?!?! You should have a warning for the scorpophobic :)

  27. I wouldn't trust a cat to nail those little nightmares. My cat learned to just stare at them and keep his distance. I didn't discover what he was staring at IN THE SHOWER, until I had a head full of shampoo and that evil thing was moving toward me with his tail up ready to sting something! They can get in through the tiniest of cracks anywhere around your house. We spent a day going through the house screening EVERYTHING and more. We also cut down the tall tree in the front of the house, that hung over our roof, as they were dropping off of it and into our air vents. (somehow) Those are now screened as well.

    We did a blacklight hunt around the outside of the house with our exterminator, and he found well over a dozen in an hour. Crushing the little buggers seems to be the only way to kill them. But, kill their food supply around the house, and supposedly they'll hunt elsewhere for food. (I still check shoes, shake out towels, robes and even clothes I wear each day.)

  28. Ugh. I'd be turning on all the lights, too. When I lived in Austin, I never found a scorpion in the house. I think I must have been very, very lucky! If I ever move back, I'll now be peering under everything and always turning on that bathroom light at night!!!! Scorpions and roaches will send me up on a couch screaming every time. (I like the idea of a black light flashlight though!)

  29. Steph-
    I grew up in Southern NM, scorpions were just a part life. As were vinegarones and taranchulas. Exterminators DO help. I hate to repeat other comments, but cats are one of the best things to get rid of them. That sucks that Phil is allergic.

    Pretty much everyone I know has been stung at least a couple of times. They are super freaky, but it's like a bee sting. You will probably hurt yourself more trying to get away than they will hurt you.

    And yeah, checking my shoes every day was just a part of life. We always picked up EVERYTHING off the floor. Always.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Our neighbor has three cats that she lets roam wild, so we see them in our yard sometimes. That's a benefit. My fear is that with her outdoor cats, the scorpions are coming to us! We also have a lot of bunnies and deer with their baby deer. Love when Lucas and Abigail point and say, "baby." Love. ALSO, I was in the parking lot at Target and I saw a GINORMOUS hairy tarantula. It is something I'll never forget. I felt like I was in that episode of the Brady Bunch.

  30. No she does not call you Miss Stephanie! And why do you have a nanny cam?

    FROM SK: It's not a hidden nanny cam. We have three cameras hooked up to a private IP address so their grandparents, aunts, and cousins can watch them when they're in their playroom.

  31. If I had known there were scorpions in Texas I would never have moved there. And I had four cats, and it didn't help. I will agree that exterminators do help, but they are hardy little monsters. I'm so relieved that I have not seen a single scorpion since I moved to NC.

  32. Gross. I'm so glad you can't get them in Europe. I saw a snake a few months ago though which was also pretty gross and poisonous spiders. Can't stand spiders but a scorpion, now that would freak me out too.

  33. This is just horrific considering I live about 2 miles from you! I have never seen any scorpions at or around my house but now I am on high alert. Ugh….

  34. Stephanie,
    We moved to Scottsdale, AZ from Austin last December. Since moving there we have killed over 40 scorpions in our home. Our poor Dachshund has been stung twice on his naughty long nose!
    I feel you…..I despise them!

  35. Someone above said it…have you tried lavender? I have no experience with scorpions, only ants, but I have heard that lavender repels them. Maybe plant some lavender around the outside of the house or leave little sachets in places you tend to see them/suspect they are coming in. The ants freak me out and they are generally harmless to people (not to the house). Also you might try a local exterminator company. I've found the local ones know better how to solve local problems than the national ones like Terminix. I'm cringing for you.

  36. Come on back East to NY…where the only thing there is to fear is traffic!

    Oh and you just killed my love of lobster…thanks very much.

  37. to Kim – you said scorpions aren't in Europe, not true. I'm reading a book that takes place in the south of France & they constantly mention that they find scorpions in their farm house.( the book isn't fiction either!) Good luck getting rid of them Staphanie.

  38. i would add something to the Terminex contract covering meds to cure the anxiety i would face if one EVER returned…that is of course if they could get them to leave

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