Cuddling with a Centipede (the stranger in my bed mid-lockdown)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is not an opinion piece.
This is just a report of recent events. Maybe a shit show.

It is 01:19.

I’m Googling “do centipedes hunt in packs”.

I just woke up faster than one should wake up. Dazed and confused.

Something just happened. And I find myself mumbling “what the fuck” in honour of the last 40+ days of lockdown.

My situation is nothing like the unimaginable circumstances of others but there have been some weird days, stupid days, kak days and dark days.

A week or two into lockdown, I locked the keys in my car after a trip to the grocery store. Lockdown, locked out, ja, the irony is not lost on me. I got a rash from washing my hands too often (ja, there might be an Alanis Morissette reference there too). Thanks to the Velcro on my couch which keeps the back cushion in place, I caused, witnessed and experienced my pensioner cat’s first seizure; apparently it was a Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizure (FARS). It is not a pretty sight to see and I wish I could shake the image. A friend has been hospitalised and is in a coma (without a doubt keeping the faith; she is a ray of positivity and a fighter).  My computer monitor had a flickering line dance on its own, and I thought, this is it. I have three resident mosquitoes who survived summer, Doom, and they are 100% cooperating and adhering to the lockdown rules. They have been irritating me for the past 40+ days and at night, it looks as if I’m mid-exorcism because of their buzzing. And now the centipede thing happened. It has been a weird month and a bit.

It is 01:13.

I feel something on my ear.

I’m kind of waking up. Scratching my ear.

Yes, there is definitely something on my ear. It feels cold and wet.

I’m waking up a bit more.

Can it be the tip of my ponytail? My hoodie’s strings?

It is a few seconds after 01:13.

It can’t be my ponytail or my hoodie’s strings.

I feel again.

What in the name of? What the fuck is this?

I am in a tug of war with something.

I manage to lift this thing grabbing on to my ear and fling it to the wall.

I’m still waking up.

I get up, turn on the light and go the bathroom.

No, it is definitely not my ponytail or my hoodie’s strings.

What can it be?

I turn on my phone’s torch and shine the light on the floor in the direction of where the flinging happened.

Nothing.

Not even that pair of earphones that is still missing.

I think I am awake now.

I am now more certain than ever that the thing I felt on my ear was a living thing.

But where is it?

I look around the pillows.

Nothing.

I check in the vicinity of my cat (who is sound asleep) at the foot of the bed.

Nothing.

I lift the duvet.

There it is.

And all I can say is, “Okay. Okay. Okay.”

A fully grown centipede with all its pairs of legs.

There it is.

“Okay. Okay. Okay.”

I am remarkably calm.

I get up, grab an empty honey jar and help the creepy-crawly-bliksem into the honey jar, and close the lid.

He is a feisty one.

Meet Leggy Larry

In Afrikaans a centipede is called an “oorkruiper”. Direct translation? An ear crawler.

Ja, the irony is not lost on me. Again.

There is this old wife’s tale tail that they climb (crawl) into your ear, lay eggs in your brain and then they munch on your brain.

Nom nom fokken nom. Lekker.

It is 01:19.

I’m Googling “do centipedes hunt in packs?”.

Are there more?

Are they all coming for me?

Can they come later though, because I am tired and want to sleep but I can’t sleep because I feel things crawling on my skin from head to toe.

I’m Googling.

Not even the images with the 15 to 75 pairs of legs scare me off anymore.

I’ve been scarred enough already. Violated.

Apparently, “centipedes do need to find a sheltered spot to live in when it’s cold. Where they go depends on their overall environment. Common places for centipedes to find winter shelter include under rocks, in cracks in building walls and under the bark of old logs.”

They forgot to add “cuddling under a duvet” to the list of common places.

It is 01:29.

How this thing did not bite/sting/attack me mid-flung is beyond me. Apparently the black ones have venomous claws that they dig (ja dig) into prey to neutralize them.

Nom nom fokken nom. Lekker.

I have had enough of centipedes.

I read news. Because that is mos the healthy thing to do right now.

Again, I find myself mumbling “what the fuck” in honour of the last 40+ days of lockdown. This whole lockdown and level bullshit just seem ridiculous now given the current state of our economy. The first 21 days made sense (at the time), an extra extension also probably made sense (at the time).

But did it really make sense? Were we not all in the honeymoon phase of COVID-19’s vows?

Nothing makes sense anymore. Dazed and confused.

I’m angry. I’m confused. I’m worried.

The centipede and mishaps of April have nothing to do with the lockdown, and yes, it is being blown out of proportion. But somehow all is related. Even if it is just in the name of frustration and violation.

I want to know that a father can run after his kid (to protect, not to frolic) without getting arrested. I want to know that businesses will remain open – and in operation – and that they don’t have to let go of their staff. I want to know that there is a beacon of hope and familiarity for those non-Covid-19 hospital patients who can’t receive visitors. I want to know that people will survive this; physically, financially and mentally. I want people to be responsible. I want citizens to respect those enforcing the law, and those enforcing the law to respect citizens. I want news – any other news – I will even take sports. Bore me with a golfing tournament, please I beg you. I want government to share their projections and insights for the future with us, because right now everything just has “Oops, you are screwed” written on its forehead.

And you know what? I just want to go bloody outside.

I know there is a 06:00 to 09:00 let’s-be-outside curfew, but I will most likely be outside and go for a walk around the block at 15:23 today.

Come find me. Come fine me. Whatever.

My apologies, but I was just in a tug of war with a centipede who chose to shack up with me during lockdown. He broke the rules first.

The other possibility is that I’ll be cleaning for the 17th time when the clock strikes 15:23.

Who knows.

Come find me. Come fine me. Whatever.

And while you are on your way, can you please bring me a bottle of something with alcohol in it and a pack of legally obtained cigarettes. I can’t burn the house down, but a centipede on my ear in the middle of the night seems like a good excuse to light something up right now. See it as my contribution to the economy.

Come find me. Come fine me. Whatever. Just know: I have a jar with a centipede resting and regaining its powers. Over the last few hours I have grown fond-ish of him, he is now known as Leggy Larry, the OG of breaking lockdown rules. I have seen it all, I have felt it all and I’m not afraid to use a centipede against you.

And remember, they like going for ears… and no mask will protect you. Hear hear.

Leggy Larry is carnivorous.

Good luck.

Sorry not sorry if you are a tannie sensitive to f-bombs. But did you see Leggy Larry’s legs?