Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Gave It Up For Lint

Everyone has a fear of something. For some people it's a fear of heights. For others, anxieties caused by being cramped in tight places induces panic. For yet other folks, lakes and oceans send them screaming for the hills.

No fear is greater to me than the fear of spiders.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about Daddy Long Legs -those little marathon runner-looking guys of the arachnid family. Heck,  for that matter wood spiders, for all of their ferocious demeanor, are very docile, preferring to mosey across your shoe, give you a look of greeting, and continue on their way in search of whatever insect they can call lunch.

No sir, Jerry. I'm talking about the very icon of eight-legged terror. I'm talking about the Black Widow.

This is the species of whom a representative decided to attack me one evening last summer, probably showing off his machismo for his friends. Sometime during the night I was roused from a perfectly good dream about taking a pizza break while starring in a truly awful movie. (I think my line was, "get me a taxi, baby" or something equally ridiculous.) The rhythmic, tickling sensation on the calf of my leg -a sense of something under the covers- was moving upward, taking its time and inducing a huge amount of stress for me. When I worked up the nerve, I flung the sheet and blanket while launching out of bed for the lamp. Sifting thought the bedding, I found nothing, but then I saw something moving rapidly towards the floor under the bed. It didn't make it. I think the last thing the spider heard, assuming they can hear anything, was a size twelve Rockport ushering it to a web in the afterlife.

The spider was smooth, shiny, and black. It had red markings on its underside. I had been bitten.

Despite the rumors that Black Widows kill people, the fact is that they usually cause pain more than anything else. In my case, that meant severe abdominal pain.

Following that incident, I carefully went through my entire home. I cleaned and organized everything, taking precaution as I went. All was well; door and window areas were sprayed with anti-spider insecticide, and the window next to my bed was sealed with duct tape. I had peace of mind for the next nine months.

(Hackneyed phrase alert) And then it happened.

While sitting down on the commode to take off my socks, I saw something on the floor. Something black.

Something moving.

It was moving quickly toward a stack of car magazines I read whenever I run out of ways to mentally solve the world's problems.

"Oh my G-" was all I could utter while jumping into the hallway, taking my socks with me as I went. Fifteen minutes passed while I looked high and low for the spider spray before remembering that I used it up in the great Raid carpet bombing of 2013. "Desperate times", I muttered to myself, reaching instead for some Right Guard. In no time, page 46 of Hot Rod Magazine, September 1982 issue, was protected from any and all body odor, and, hopefully, from any Black Widow visits. I don't quite know how to articulate the experience of sifting through all of those periodicals amidst a search-and-destroy mission. I can tell you that the process reminded me of a lesson I had in a statistics course which explained how, through systematic elimination of objects in a set of objects, one continuously increases the odds that one of the remaining objects will be the one chosen. Slowly removing each magazine from the stack increased my sweat flow.

There were two magazines remaining when I suddenly felt riveted to the bathroom floor. The black object was in view again, heading away from me in apparent search of cover. "NOT THIS TIME!" I yelled in my finest warrior's cry. I grabbed every magazine I could from the doorway where I had placed them, one by one, a moment earlier. Motion from the moving offender elicited the best kiap I could remember from the semester of Wing Chun I took at Radford years ago. "HOOA!" combined with the quick, downward motion of engine building articles, photos of show cars, and several advertisements for chrome valve covers.

It took a moment to scan the room before realizing that it didn't get away. The sense of accomplishment -of surviving- an ordeal in a hostile environment left me with a euphoric feeling as I turned over the bottom magazine to examine my prey.

There, spread out in all of its finest glory, was the most intimidating piece of sock lint ever poached by a mere mortal. My heart rate, my blood pressure, and my adrenaline were stabilizing themselves back to Andy Griffith Show levels, replaced by feelings of mild embarrassment. This former piece of fabric, which had once lovingly kept part of one of my toes warm, had gone rogue. Inflicting brutal psychological warfare on its former owner had temporarily given it the upper hand, so to speak. In the end, the lint was treated like any other would-be aggressor in my home, receiving the customary flush and dirty glare.

In the end, I had won a victory, hard fought and almost Pyrrhic. I had stood my ground. I had met the enemy head on and conquered it. The cotton remnant was no more.

I gave it up for lint.

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