In addition to Godzilla, Japanese school girls and obtaining a Japanese driver’s license, one of the horrors we were warned about before coming to Japan was mukade – centipedes. As if they didn’t look terrifyingly creepy to begin with, we were told that they are highly toxic and tend to travel in pairs (Eddie has actually been bitten twice on two separate occasions, and I’m not really sure why he’s still here). Japan sells various sprays and (yes, Slim) even magic powders that are supposed to keep them away. Recently I have become lax in my vigilance out of concern for the neighborhood kittens – I didn’t want them accidentally ingesting the poison and getting sick.

That was before one of the fuckers – as long as my entire hand and thicker than one of my fingers – made its way into my house. I managed to stifle my screams since my windows were open and I didn’t want an embarrassing scene with my neighbors. I was out of mukade spray and powder, so I grabbed the most powerful thing I had – cockroach spray (and why do I have that? you might ask) – in one hand and my trusty insect swatter in the other and proceeded to gas the thing. Now I think that the kittens are old enough to figure out how not to eat insecticide.

Unfortunately, because I was using roach spray, instead of centipede spray, it took a while to kill it (and it’s not like they hold still to let you kill them). It was still writhing on the floor even when my tongue had gone numb and my lungs were burning from the fumes. As it convulsed and fought the inevitable, I was repulsed, yet still I felt a pang of sympathy in my chest (or perhaps it was just the fumes). I kept thinking I should end it with the swatter – prevent it from dying this slow death – but I was too afraid to get close to it while it was still alive (I mean, even after it died I was near tears at the thought of having to dispose of it) and I didn’t want to make a mess on my tatami. So I watched it until it finally stopped twitching and thought about how our fear of something can make us unnecessarily cruel toward it.

Non-sequitor: This is from the article, “The Abyss,” by Oliver Sacks, published in the September 24th edition of the “New Yorker”. The article was about a man who has “Momento”-esque like amnesia – that is, he forgets things within moments of doing or saying them. This quote is referring to the love he shares with his wife.

“It must be an extraordinary situation, I thought, both maddening and flattering, to be seen always as new, as a gift, as a blessing.”

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