This Is Why I [Sometimes] Sleep With the Lights On

My dad has the knack of scaring the bejesus out of me. When I was a little kid, he’d hide behind doors and leave them slightly ajar; when I went to open the door fully, he would jump out and yell. This caused me to check through the door hinges or just push the door open with full force (something that I still do to this day). Sometimes he’ll start chanting in a low voice while we’re in the dark and it makes my skin crawl. And every now and then he’ll stick with the basics by pressing his face up against the kitchen window when it’s pitch black outside and the only light shinning is the bulb right above the sink.

Tonight he shared a story that now has me a little bit scared to sleep without a nightlight and my little stuffed dog.

An army acquaintance had just come back from Vietnam. He had been lucky in being stationed close to base camp; his troop had access to an actual latrine (as opposed to having to dig a community trench for everyone to use). One night, he found that he couldn’t “hold it” anymore (my dad guessed it was the beginnings of dysentery) and made his way carefully to the outhouse. Holding a flashlight concealed by his poncho, he was able to get to the toilet without getting shot.

As he relieved himself, the soldier heard a faint rustling nearby. On guard, he tried to figure out the direction of the sound – it was directly above his head. The soldier slowly brought his flashlight to the ceiling and was horrified at his discovery: above his head were swarms of tarantulas.

Apparently he burst out of the outhouse with his pants around his ankles.

Since my arachnophobia is still pretty strong, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that a swarm of tarantulas were slowly making their way towards me. I had a feeling that I’d have trouble sleeping with the lights out.

My dad made it worse by having his fingers make a crawling sensation on my arm in the dark while we were out watching the fireworks.

I can tell you right now that not only will I be sleeping with a light on tonight, I will also have a flashlight under the covers. You know, to throw at the tarantula that might be underneath my bed.

Edited to add: I also found a small spider nestled inside a basket of strawberries. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until 4AM.

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  1. September 14th, 2009