In Alaska, we like a wide berth. In fact, several of us commented on it while waiting on line at the Costco pharmacy. You could have driven a shopping cart around us like we were pylons. Alaskans don’t need to be close enough to one another to know whether or not the person next to them is wearing deodorant. The more space the better. An arms distance is the norm.
Not so in Miami.
They like everything close. Cars, shopping carts, people…close.
A few weeks ago I went to Aventura Mall, which is conveniently located just minutes from my new home. Juneau doesn’t have a real mall so I thought this could be fun. Within ten minutes I was hyperventilating and trying to find the nearest potted palm tree arrangement so I could lay down amongst the fronds.
Chaos doesn’t describe it accurately. Organized mayhem, perhaps. Don’t stop walking cause the person behind you is going to use you as a welcome mat and go right up over you. Don’t stop to look at anything unless you plan your exit from the pack in advance.
It was truly a herd mentality. The weakest one in the herd is usually left behind for the hyenas and Aventura Mall is no exception.
A highlight, for me at the mall, was discovering in one of the fountain ponds….a group of enormous Koi. Yes, my first thought was….”if this was Alaska there’d be 10 people in there trying to catch these fish.” They were as long as my arm and as round as my thigh. Not something to be messed with. I was amazed nobody was in there wading around with a lasso.
I’ve been here for almost two months and I’ve been nervously anticipating my first wildlife encounter. By wildlife, I’m referring to things that are going to leap out and scare the shit out of me when I’m not expecting it.
Actually, I’ve been planning to encounter them in this order:
There are a lot of rat hotels. They go in but don’t come out. You see them everywhere. Big plastic boxes with giant holes on each side. I saw a dead rat on my way to work one day – on the side of the road. Too big for a mouse. Too small for a cat.
I can mark off iguana lizard and tiny little lizard.
The other day I brought in from the garage a suitcase (like a big duffle bag) that had my shoes in the top and began to unpack it.
I pulled out about 4 shoes when all of the sudden I saw a flash of brownish red coloring the size of my big toe – scurry across the bottom of the bag.
I think my immediate response was something like:
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
All the while running through the house, flapping my arms and jumping up and down like some kind of kid hopped up on pure sugar.
Thankfully Eric was here visiting for Easter (as a surprise) and came running towards me. He thought I had injured myself – like cut my arm off – to use his words. He grabbed me and asked what happened.
I couldn’t stop.
I stood in front of him and continued leaping around….. one knee up to my chest and then another –I was standing still – jumping hurdles like an Olympic gold medalist – while shaking my hands like a kindergartener who can’t get the glue off.
He went in to “capture the beast” and asked for a plastic cup and paper towel. I gave him the tools and then stood in the other room. When he captured the villain he asked for duct tape – to cover the top of the cup before disposal.
Apparently, you don’t want to squish and kill them in case it’s a female and then their eggs are everywhere.
THIS is when I decided it was best to put my head between my knees and ponder, “how the hell am I going to do this by myself?”
You are shitting me right?
Eric continues to clean out the suitcase of shoes – checking each shoe for visitors. I sit on the bed – safely out of reach of any flying creatures. Suddenly something moves on the bag. I immediately start screaming…..
Eric jumps…..”Where? Where?”
Oh. Sorry. False alarm. Cat fuzzy. Sorry. Cat fur fluffy thing….right there. Sorry.
Jesus, I need a shot of vodka.
Then I learn about Banana Spiders – which are not threatening. I looked them up online. They’re large but thin – like a Daddy Long Leg. That’s okay. But then I hear about the Wolf Spiders. They jump at their prey. Seriously? The photo via Google….the Wolf Spider was AS BIG AS THE PALM OF YOUR HAND.
Just thinking about it makes my mouth go dry and I feel a little woozy. Is it getting dark in here?
The first time one of those enormous Palmetto bugs or flying cockroaches lands on me — they’re going to have to call the Paramedics to peel me off the ceiling like a fruit roll up. I’ll then spend the next 30 days in a psychiatric ward….Raid Spray cans in each hand and a back pack filled with back ups.
I’m sorry but any insect creature I can dress up in a small dog’s outfit is too big.