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Air-Conditioning » Jolana Malkston
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Nov 132013

Jolana Malkston 2Instead of going back to the small town where they graduated high school, and where there isn’t a whole lot to do even before they pull in the sidewalks at dusk, Macho Guy’s classmates voted to hold a recent class reunion in Branson, Missouri. They reserved a block of rooms at a group rate in a very nice motel for a four-day weekend, and everyone planned on having a roaring good time seeing all the shows and visiting all the attractions.

There was one little hitch in the plans. They scheduled the reunion in summer. In the month of August. In scorching, sweltering, steamy Missouri in summer in the month of August. After experiencing August in Branson, Missouri, it is my considered opinion that air conditioning should be written into the U.S. Constitution as an inalienable right of citizenship.

I distinctly remember that the day we arrived in Branson was the last day of the reunion on which I elected to wear makeup. It reached its melting point and slid right off my face the moment I stepped out of the car at the motel.

Damn, it was hot in Branson in August. It was so damn hot, anti-perspirant/deodorant failure was rife—and ripe. The directions on my anti-perspirant/deodorant’s label read: “Apply a thin layer to underarms.” I tried that. It didn’t last five minutes once I stepped outdoors. I tried applying a thicker layer the next day. Ten minutes, tops. The third day, I slathered it on like cake frosting.

Despite the heat, Macho Guy and three of his classmates decided to play a round of golf. I reminded him that the expected high for the following day was 101 degrees. He said it wouldn’t be a problem; they reserved an early tee time. The next morning, we had a very early breakfast together. Macho Guy left to golf in the oppressive heat, and I went back to our cool, comfortable air-conditioned room to shower before getting in some writing time on the old laptop I brought along.

I finished showering and opened the glass door to step out when in my peripheral vision I caught a somewhat blurry creature crawling across the tile floor to my right. Since my glasses were on the vanity, I had to squint at it to get a better look. I thought it might be a large insect of some kind, but it was a creamy, off-white color and it didn’t look like any insect I’d ever seen. I thought about stepping on it and squashing it. Not a chance. I was barefoot—I was bare, period—so I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Good thing I didn’t because I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. The creature was beginning to look oddly familiar, more so the closer it came to the shower stall. When it climbed onto the fluffy bath mat, I got a good look at the distinctive upward curl of its tail. My flesh broke out in industrial-size goose bumps. Even without my glasses on I could see that I was in very deep doo-doo. My unwelcome visitor was a small but deadly scorpion.


I was alone, I was dripping wet, I was in the altogether, and I was freaking out because a scorpion was right outside the shower stall.


No one heard me, of course. Then I had a brilliant idea. One of Macho Guy’s female classmates had a sign on her motel room door that read: “I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun.” She could shoot the blasted scorpion for me—if I could get past the scorpion to get to the phone and call her.


The scorpion looked as if it was turning in my direction. Not good. Maybe it heard me yelling for help. Too bad no one else did.

I was on my own. I had to kill the scorpion before it killed me. Also not good. I freak out if I have to kill a spider. Where was Macho Guy when I really needed him? Oh, right. He was playing golf.

I took a frantic look around the shower stall for a weapon. Let’s see. One bar of soap the size of a credit card. One tiny bottle of shampoo the size of a tube of lipstick. One tiny bottle of after-shampoo conditioner, same size. One wet washcloth. Some arsenal—I was a dead woman.

The scorpion drew closer while I decided which of my weapons of miniscule destruction I should throw at it first. I decided on the tiny shampoo bottle, but then I hesitated. If I hit it and didn’t kill it, I’d probably make it mad. I did not want to make it mad. I didn’t even want to annoy it. There had to be something I could do that would prevent that scorpion from sending me to the Great Publishing House in the Sky before my time.

The wet washcloth. Of course! I could trap the scorpion under the wet washcloth and then escape. Why didn’t I think of it sooner? No, don’t tell me. I’ll get the answer myself . . . got it! I didn’t think of it sooner because I was scared spitless.

I knew I would have only one chance. I had to land the wet washcloth right on target because I wouldn’t be able to retrieve it if I miscalculated. With knees knocking and teeth chattering I leaned out and held the washcloth a few feet directly above the scorpion and dropped it.

Bullseye! I trapped the little beasty right under the center of the washcloth. I leaped over it to freedom and wrapped myself in a warm, dry fluffy towel.

As soon as I stopped shaking, I called the front desk and informed the desk clerk that there was a scorpion in my room. She made me repeat it twice before she realized she heard me correctly. She said she would send someone up to take care of it.

All the while I patted myself dry, I never took my eyes off that washcloth to make certain its prisoner did not escape confinement. Then it occurred to me that the desk clerk would probably send a man to take care of the scorpion, and I was still in my skin suit.

I was in a warm up suit when the scorpion wrangler arrived with his pincers and specimen box. I showed him where the unwelcome visitor was being detained. He reached down to lift the washcloth and I gasped. Was he insane? I asked him if he wasn’t afraid of being stung by the scorpion. He straightened and apparently thought better of lifting the cloth. He lifted up one boot-clad foot and stomped on the washcloth. He then peeked underneath. He nodded and said, “Yep. Scorpion.” He gripped the washcloth and the scorpion’s corpse with his pincers, deposited them in the specimen box and left. Whew! Close one.

I spent the rest of the morning writing and constantly looking over my shoulder to be sure no more scorpion intruders were sneaking up on me. I wouldn’t sleep in the bed that night until Macho Guy removed and shook out the bedding to be sure no scorpions had taken up residence there. We checked out the following day.

I thought we might get a partial refund because of the scorpion incident. I mentioned the scorpion to the desk clerk checking us out. She sure was quick on her feet. In a bright cheery voice, she said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. We won’t charge you extra for having a scorpion in your room.”

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