I try to remember the scorpion when I’m going about my daily business.
You all know the story, right? I wasn’t aware until I started looking into it, but apparently it’s really, really old. Like, third-century-B.C. old. So, back in the third century, before Jesus was all water-into-wining and whatnot, people were talking about the scorpion and the frog. Or sometimes, the scorpion and the turtle, but I’m going with frog, because frogs are softer and easier to injure.
And yet we never fucking learn.
In case you didn’t click above (and LISTEN YAHOOS, I look at my clicks, and I notice you are not clicking, and that is just SO SAD, are your clickers broken? Is it the fact that, like my brother says, you all have one hand? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?) I will tell you the story of the scorpion and the frog. But, Amy-style, because listen, what’s not better, Amy-style? Very little, is the answer.
Once upon a time in a kingdom nowhere near the sea, there lived a frog. The frog was a damn dirty hippie, all “peace love DOPE!” and shit, and hopping along all willy-nilly and probably dropping acid or whatever damn dirty hippie-frogs do, I don’t know, whatever, wearing frog peace-beads and stinking up the joint with frog-patchouli or some such nonsense. One day, Hippie Frog decided, “Duuuude, I think I’ll swim over this here river, see what’s on the other side, maybe they got some better grass, you dig?” So he got all ready to do so, and a scorpion came up to him.
“Dearest frog, with your lovely scent of, oh, what is that, patchouli? How utterly delightful,” said the scorpion. “I am a very poor swimmer, being a scorpion. Perhaps you, as a frog of many talents, one of which being superior aquaticism, would be willing to give me a ride on your back across this wild and woolly river?”
Hippie Frog, even through his dope-haze, was savvy to this jive. “Whoa, wait a minute, you’re a SCORPION,” he said. “I know what will happen. I’ll get halfway across the river, and you’ll sting me and I’ll die. You can’t fool ME, scorpion-dude. I wasn’t born YESTERDAY, you know.”
The scorpion nodded sagely. “Well-played, Sir Frog, well-played indeed. Yes, it is true. I, as a scorpion, am known for my fearsome stinger. Yet, it would not behoove me to sting you while we were crossing the river. We would both perish, if I were to do that; so, you can see, you have nothing to lose, and only my friendship to gain, by assisting me in my traveling task. I promise your safety, my good man, on our mutual river crossing. On that you have my word as a scorpion. My, but those are lovely beads, did you get them at that precious corner headshop run by that psychoactive toad?”
Well, Hippie Frog so wanted to be helpful. And the scorpion had a good point! And he had PROMISED! And what if, after the river crossing, he and the scorpion could become friends? It would be like a little project! He could win where everyone else had failed! It would be epic! Songs would be sung! Stories would be told!
“Hop on scorpion-friend,” the frog said. “Let’s get to swimmin’.”
So Hippie Frog started swimming, his head full of dreams: oh, the friendship he and his BFF the scorpion would have! The picnics they would go on together! The inside jokes they would crack! The double dates they would venture out upon! People would be so jealous of such a close friendship; even more so, because the frog had been brave, and had won over the scorpion. Hippie Frog knew that everyone said the scorpion was bad news, but that was just idle talk, nothing more. I mean, seriously, dude! This was going – pun most definitely intended – SWIMMINGLY!
OUCH. SHIT. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT.
“Um, scorpion-dude, did you just sting me?” Hippie Frog asked, his head starting to get fuzzy, his arms and legs starting to fail in their perfect froggy breaststroke. “Why? Why? You promised. YOU PROMISED!”
“Ah, yes, that I did,” the scorpion said, and Hippie Frog thought he even seemed a little sad as his eyesight started to go and they both started to go under. “But, Sir Frog, I’m a scorpion. You knew that, going into it. It’s in my nature.”
Now, this story’s been told in a variety of ways, and in a variety of places – the movie Natural Born Killers (LOVE), the movie The Crying Game (remember how we all tried not to spoil that for each other when it first came out? Aw, weren’t we all so cute, pre-interwebs?), the movie Skin Deep (no idea what this even is and don’t care enough to research it) and Star Trek: Voyager (sorry, not a Star Trek person, but I’m sure someone reading this is and remembers it from there.) I, oddly enough, first heard it in a sermon in church, so you know it was a long time ago, before me stepping foot into church would mean me going up in a pillar of flame. Yeah, I know. I have no idea what it was referring to, or how it tied into God or whatever. I just remember listening to the story and thinking shit, but that explains a lot, yo.
There’s also the snake/girl version, which I actually like even more:
A girl finds a viper freezing to death in the snow. “Please,” the snake says, with its last breath. “Please, pick me up and put me in your coat. If you do not, surely I will die.”
The girl is afraid, and rightfully so. I mean, she’s not a honey badger. Venom would kill her, not just make her take a brief nap.
“I can’t, you’ll bite me and I’ll die,” she says.
“No, I would never,” the snake says. “I’d be eternally grateful to you for saving my life. Please. Please help me. You’re my only hope.”
The girl, who wants to be a good girl, always and forever, and you know, like girls do, can’t turn down a plea for help, because that’s just BAD and that’s just WRONG, scoops up the snake and nestles it close to her heart, and begins to walk home, so proud of herself for how giving and kind and righteous she is.
After a bit, the snake begins to warm up. After a bit more, the snake opens its jaws and sinks its teeth into the girl’s breast.
As the girl sinks to her knees in the snow, she cries, “Why? I saved you. I saved you. Why would you do this to me?”
Simply, the snake says, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
I think of this story a lot.
I think of this story when someone tells me that the guy they’ve been living with for two years, who’s always been kind of a cock and always been kind of yelly is STILL a cock and is STILL yelly and it finally got to the point where they couldn’t take it anymore so they moved out and why didn’t he change? Why didn’t he stop being a cock? Why didn’t he stop being yelly?
Verdict: You knew he was a scorpion when you moved in with him.
I think of this story when someone says they were roped into an online scheme and got their entire bank account wiped out, and YES, it seemed like a really, really good deal, but they just thought, hey, I finally got lucky, for once! It’s my turn! It’s my time! And they heard horror stories from people who went through similar things, but they were all, IT WON’T HAPPEN TO ME!
Verdict: You knew it was a scorpion when you gave it your bank account information.
I think of this story when someone says they met someone who had a girlfriend, and they were the “other woman” for a while, and then he finally broke up with his girlfriend, and things were SO STELLAR ZOMG for a while, and they were SO HAPPY, and then he started being shady, and getting a lot of texts, and making these weird phone calls, and having to work late, and then he broke up with them for ANOTHER WOMAN.
Verdict: You knew he was a scorpion when you started sleeping with him behind his girlfriend’s back.
I think of this story when someone tells me that their heart is broken because they fell in love with someone who flat-out TOLD them they didn’t want a relationship, that it was just a friends-with-benefits thing, but they thought, “NO! It’ll CHANGE! He’ll fall in LOVE with me, once we’ve been doing this long enough! He’s just SAYING that! It’s what guys SAY!”
Verdict: You knew he was a scorpion when he straight-up told you his intentions for the relationship and you chose to ignore them.
Now, not every situation is a “you knew he was a scorpion” situation. Sometimes, the scorpions hide and lurk and they don’t announce themselves. Sometimes, you’re dating someone for a while and then BAM you find out they’ve had a girlfriend or wife the whole time. In that case, you DIDN’T know he was a scorpion. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. However, now that you KNOW he is a scorpion, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for sticking around waiting to get stung again.
Or sometimes, the person wasn’t a scorpion the whole time! Sometimes, the person just POW! BECOMES a scorpion! It is not predictable, and again, NOT YOUR FAULT. But now you know. And once you know, IT IS TIME TO GO. Don’t beat yourself up; just pack your bags and hit the road, Jack or Jacqueline, you don’t need to be hanging around there waiting for the stinger to drop. If you do, you’re going to be sinking to the bottom of the river like that dirty patchouli-reeking hippie-frog.
The problem, as I see it, is that we, as a species, both men and women, like to think we’re special. We’re brought up (more so now, not so much, say, in my parents’ generation) that we’re all such special damn snowflakes. And, when presented with a challenge, or a project, or a “climb every mountaaaiiiiinnnnn”, or whatever, we want to be the one. We want to say, “Yeah, Jimmy was a total player, until he met me. And then I was THE ONE! And he totally calmed right down, and now he’s just the best family man!” Or “Jane was all career and dating when I met her, but once we got together, she’s all about being a mom and I mean, seriously, smokin’-hot, too, am I right? She’s ALL MINE and I am WINNING.” We want to be the one who wins; we want to be the only one who could tame the scorpion. WE ARE INDIVIDUAL AND SPECIAL AND UNIQUE DAMMIT.
We like a project, we like a fixer-upper, because then we can say we did it, we fixed it up, we can take pride in having done that, we can be the winner, it is ours now. And we like to be the ONLY one who could do that.
Thing is, it blows up in our faces, more often than not. It’s an effing scorpion, you idiot. It’s not going to calm down. You’re not the Scorpion Whisperer. I mean, I suppose there’s a chance you MIGHT be, but that chance is pretty remote. Like, snowball-in-hell, melting-all-over, isn’t-this-just-like-the-worst-mess-you’ve-ever-seen remote.
I’m totally a victim of this. I’m not going to lie and tell you “I AM TOTALLY ABOVE ALL OF THIS SO LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY I AM THE BEST THING.” Nope. I’m not always the most SYMPATHETIC to the people who pick up scorpion after scorpion, but I’m a victim of it too, sorry to tell you. I’m not Superwoman. I like a project. I like to win. I get sucked into bringing the scorpion across the friggin’ river time and again, I’ll admit it right up front. Just when I think I recognize the scorpion right away, the scorpion changes and comes at me in a different scorpion-disguise and I’m all “HEADDESK! OH, YOU STUPID TRICKY-ASS SCORPION.”
But I try to remember the scorpion. I try to tell myself, listen, THAT IS A SCORPION. Because if you pick up a scorpion, there really is no one to blame but yourself. You can’t blame a scorpion; that’s its nature. Here, I’ll give it to you in all-caps, set apart from everything else:
A SCORPION IS GOING TO STING YOU.
Whether you’re a hippie-frog or a girl with a snake in her coat or a grown-ass woman, you’re going to get stung.
Solution: watch out for the scorpions. If you listen, they announce themselves. Then get the hell away from the scorpions.
Seems simple, but isn’t always. Your stupid heart often gets in the way. But I promise: you’re better off not carrying scorpions across the river or snakes in your coat. The outcome is kind of already determined for you.
I mean, except if you’re a hippie-frog, then maybe you deserved it. Patchouli is the worst.