Adjusting to life in Florida is like a hazing. Every critter that could possibly take advantage of my nerve system is giving me a run for my money.
Shortly after moving, I went to the beach to watch the sunset. And zillions of sand fleas infested my feet and ankles. I scratched off half of my epidermis and invested in every single anti-itch ointment, spray ... you name it. Believe me, I was not above snorting Benadryl.
Just when I decided that amputating both legs was the only answer, the sand fleas moved on.
I will just barely mention the day I sat down in the yard … right on top of a fire ant community. That’s also the day I stuffed the water hose down my pants because, well, I have no shame when it comes to those types of emergencies.
When I started feeding squirrels in my backyard, the population jumped from three to 27. If I don’t lavish them with unsalted peanuts at the time they expect, the little dears turn into burglars.
So far, the bandits have broken into the screened porch to steal half of a Pop-Tart, one graham cracker and two pieces of a doughnut. They have gnawed the paint off the storage closet door, trying to get to the peanuts.
Raccoons and opossums have also chosen my address. They arrive with families in tow, ask me for condiments and then shamelessly tear into my trash cans.
But I can’t be mean to them. And they obviously know that.
Last night when a palmetto bug the size of a hamster started dive-bombing my face, I finally lost all patience.
“Knock it off,” I hissed.
“Never,” the giant bug said with a laugh.
“I mean it, you little terrorist,” I shouted. “I will light up your life with my flip-flop if you don’t get going.”
“Never,” he reiterated. And wham, he kamikazeed my face and buzzed under my hair.
Well yes, that freaked me out. Yes it did. I jumped like my hair was on fire and batted at the air until the bad bug left my messy tresses and landed on my keyboard.
“Good times,” he grinned and crossed all those creepy legs.
“Fine,” I sighed. “You can have the porch to yourself. I’m going to bed.”
This morning I found ants from 13 counties. They were swimming in dribbles of spilled Pepsi, lounging on dropped chips and hauling away toast crumbs.
“Are you ... uh ... here to stay?” I asked.
“Probably,” one of them smiled.
“I kinda guessed that,” I said with an eye roll. “Well ... can I get you anything?”
“I don’t think so,” another ant said. “You’re so messy, I think we’re good for a few days.”
Coner, a long-time humor columnist and former Southsider, resides in southwest Florida. To learn more about her books and blog, visit www.sherriconer.com.