I am staying at house with some friends of Joseph’s while I’m here in the south. They live in part of a big old beautiful house. They have been gracious enough to let me occupy the front room while one of their housemates is gone for the summer. One particular morning, I had decided to sleep in. I was in bed slowly beginning the waking up process when I heard a loud knock at the front door.
I knew that the person at the door was not there to see me, so I ignored the knock. Then came another knock. Then came a knock and a “HELLO?” Again, I knew she wasn’t here to see me, so I didn’t move out of my bed even though it was odd that the woman was now inside of the house. I figured it was a friend or another housemate that was supposed to be there. (I later found out that it was their landlady,Miss Somethingorother. It was a name from Full House that I can’t remember. Let’s just call her Miss Uncle Joey). More knocking, more hellos, each becoming more frantic and louder than the last, until one loud knock on my door was immediately followed by Miss Uncle Joey bursting into my room.
“Oh! I just wanted to let you know that the exterminator is here so you won’t be startled. Bye!”
Startled?! Too late. Totally startled. Before I could ask any questions, Miss Uncle Joey was gone. Cue panic mode.
Exterminator? What exactly does that entail? Is Miss Uncle Joey the exterminator? Is she licensed for that sort of thing? Where would one get an exterminator’s license? Is a man in a big suit with tanks on his back going to spray the house down with toxic chemicals? Will this affect my breathing? Will I come down with some incurable disease? Will I need to use my out of country traveler’s insurance? Does my travel insurance cover treatment for incurable diseases? Will the room fill with fog? Do I need to get on the ground and crawl to safety? Won’t I look like a bug if I start crawling? Should I be wearing a gas mask in this situation, because mine is at home in Canada. Are Canadians allowed to stay in homes of Americans? Is this legal? Am I allowed to be here right now? I’m totally going to get arrested, aren’t I?
Do they even have the right house? What if it’s not really an exterminator, but a creepy dude casing the joint for old family heirlooms? Are there heirlooms in this house that I should know about? Where would they be hiding? Should I be hiding? My mattress is on the floor so I can’t hide under the bed. WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO HIDE? Is the closet too predictable? I can’t go to the kitchen, it’s too far away. What about this sunroom thing? Is that like a conservatory? I bet there are lots of things for an exterminator to use as weapons if his bug juice doesn’t work.
I AM OUT OF OPTIONS. I AM GOING TO DIE FROM PESTICIDE INHALATION OR FROM OTHER BAD THINGS. OH CRAP THOSE ARE CANDLESTICKS. THIS IS STARTING TO SOUND LIKE A GAME OF CLUE AND NO ONE COMES OUT ALIVE WHEN YOU’RE PLAYING CLUE. THE EXTERMINATOR IS TOTALLY COLONEL MUSTARD AND MISS UNCLE JOEY IS ACTUALLY MISS SCARLET. I’VE NEVER NOTICED THAT MISS SCARLET SOUNDS INCREDIBLY SOUTHERN. THINGS ARE ALL COMING TOGETHER NOW. THEY HAVE PIPE WRENCHES AND BUG JUICE AND ROPES AND CANDLESTICKS AND I AM IN AN OLD HOUSE WITH MANY ROOMS. WE ARE ALL DOOMED.
Then Joseph sent me a message saying that exterminators are pretty common in the south, especially in old homes and that it was harmless and I had nothing to worry about.
Okay. Time to have a shower and start my day, I guess. Everything is ok. I am alive. The exterminator isn’t coming to get me.
I am calm.
I am collected.
The south is great.
This isn’t a boardgame.
I am at peace.
All is well.
Now time to open the curtains to let in the morning light.
OH SWEET HEAVENS, THERE IS A MAN MOWING THE LAWN.