I hate spiders! I’ve mentioned that before, haven’t I? Maybe once… or twice? Hate… hate… hate… hate! Tina says that I am being irrational and if I leave them alone, they will leave me alone. Pfffft! Now who’s being irrational? Besides, I see nothing irrational in a little healthy fear of Satan’s spawn! And… the Bible tells us we must be ever vigilant of the devil and his minions.
I rest my case.
To celebrate my 27th birthday (oh… it does look smaller when I use numbers instead of spelling it out) Tina took extra time off from work; the best birthday present she could have given me! For those of you who know me, there is really only one place to celebrate my birthday… our beach house. If it is possible to love a place more than a person, the Oregon coast would be that place. It is the closest thing to heaven on earth… after my sweet little honey, of course!
Sunday evening. We’ve spent a wonderful extended weekend at the coast, beach-combing… dining out… dining in… browsing bookstores… hours in front of the big fireplace with wine, soft music and each other… “Best birthday ever, honey! I love you so much!” and are now settling in for our last evening before heading back to the hustle and bustle of the big city.
I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror, searching the sun-kissed landscape of my face for signs of singeing from leaning a little too close to the bonfire we had earlier in the evening with some new friends – when it happens.
Right in front of my eyes… just as bold as you please… a big, hairy spider drops from its perch over the mirror – they hide in the light sconces, just waiting to give me a heart attack, the evil little bastards – and skitters across the lavatory counter, millimeters from my right hand.
“F**k!” Panic-swept, my promise to Mama about sweary words… that one in particular… is forgotten. I turn and run from the bathroom.
The closed bathroom door foils my less-than-graceful escape from the eight-legged beast hissing behind me. Okay… maybe it wasn’t the spider making that sound… it was me… trying to form words… “Sssss… ssss…. sssh… shi…”
My spastic fingers finally find purchase on the polished brass doorknob and I wrench the bathroom door open, literally flying across the vanilla-scented space between the doorway and where Tina is sitting up in bed – a good twenty feet – with a look of consternation on her face. I swear… my feet never touched the floor!
“Wha…?” I don’t hear what else she says, as I dive under the covers, where a string of expletives fills the warm space.
“OMG! F**k…” Sorry, Mama… (insert several more sweary words here).
Gradually, the trip-hammer in my chest slows and the velocity of blood roaring through my ears lessens. The warmth and scent of Tina calms me, as it always does, and after a few minutes I push back the covers and sit up. She gets an ‘A’ for effort, but my honey is doing a very poor job of not smiling at my distress.
“Giant, hunormous (It’s a word! Work with me, people… I’ve just suffered a trauma!) spider… like… this big!”
I hold up my hands, fingers splayed, approximating the circumference of a turkey platter.
“How big?” With a slight tilt of her head, Tina offers up a prosecutorial query…
Moving my hands closer together… a large cantaloupe.
“Really?” Tina’s one word follow-up is accompanied with a look and air of skepticism that is worthy of an Academy Award for Best Actress. And she calls ME a drama queen?
“Objection, your honor! Badgering the witness!” I retort.
Her soft hazel eyes… with those little flecks of gold… stare back at me, unblinking.
Moving my hands closer still… an orange would fill the space… still closer – now using the fingers of one hand to illustrate the size of said hairy-legged beast from whom, thanks to my Crystal Cathedral-shattering shriek, we have been spared an agonizing death – approximating the size of an apricot… still closer… cherry tomato… craisan… still closer… a grain of bulgur…
It’s amazing how one’s perspective changes, once the panic subsides and adrenaline levels return to normal.
My inamorata sits there silently… a rather satisfied smirk on her coral pink lips.
“Smirking doesn’t become you… you do know that?”
“And you wonder why I said ‘no’ to you getting a shotgun to keep by the bed?”
Okay… okay… okay… so maybe Tina has a point there. Otherwise, right now we would be staring into the bathroom… through a jagged two foot hole in the bedroom wall, a cloud of gunsmoke drifting across the room and the boom of a double-barrel 12-gauge reverberating our eardrums.
I make a last attempt to save a shred of my dignity…
“I read somewhere that it is the little teeny, tiny spiders that carry the deadliest venom.”
I can almost hear Tina’s eyeballs click as they roll back in their sockets.
“Can we please go to sleep now?” she asks.
Yes, now that you mention it… it does feel a little ‘déjà vu-ey’.
The next morning… in the bathroom…
“You have a mole on your butt.”
“You promised not to throw that in my face… it’s in our wedding vows.”
“No, this is a new one… bigger… the size of Wisconsin.”
I switch off the hair dryer… we stare at each other in the mirror… the silence grows.
Tina steps back and bends down to look at my bum again.
“Maybe Michigan… no, wait… Michigan is the one that looks like a mitten, right? Yeah… this is definitely Wisconsin.” She straightens up and looks back at me in the mirror.
“The SIZE of Wisconsin?” My voice raises a couple of octaves.
“Oh!” Tina’s hazel eyes go wide.
“No! Shape… I meant shape… not…”
Her voice trails off as Tina realizes the implications of her little ‘faux pas’. She withers a little under my stare. Clearly, judging by the flicker of fear in her eyes, I have mastered my ‘murderous look’. Tina knows well the penalty for making allusions as to the size of my bum… it is a very sensitive subject with me. I’m trying!
“I’m sorry, baby girl… shape… I meant shape… really…” Feeble words spill over her lips. What’s that old line… how do you tell when a lawyer is lying? Their lips are moving.
A little something to know about my wife… Tina always says what she means… always! I’ve been reminded of that often enough, bless her dark little lawyer’s soul. No… this little aside is her subtle way of telling me the caboose of this train is getting a bit full.
Tina’s voice falters and she reaches for me, but I pull away. I might as well ‘milk’ this thing, right?
My mouth tightens to a flat line and I narrow my eyes – once a drama queen… always a drama queen. Tina looks away, at spot in the mirror’s distance. You can almost hear a pin drop in the room.
“So then… that would make my ass, what? The size of Texas… and Alaska?” I turn my back on her, to emphasize my last words.
My voice has that deceptive calm the prosecutor sometimes invokes just before he or she hammers home the final nail in the coffin, and sends some poor bastard away for thirty years. It is a quality of voice that Tina knows all too well, having employed it more than once in the courtroom herself.
This time the silence draws out like a blade… sharp and silvery. You can almost hear the neurons firing beneath her soft, blonde hair.
“Wait a minute… that’s not a mole… I think you sat on something.”
After a moment…
“Well… what is it?”
“Ummm…” Tina hesitates. “Well, umm…hmm… it might…be… a spi….”
As she speaks, her hand brushes across my naked bum. I turn and look down at mortis araneus, motionless on the cool tiles… and run shrieking from the bathroom.
I really do have to stop these graceless exits… its bad form.
With the sound of the flushing toilet fading away, I walk back from the kitchen to the bathroom. I’m pretty sure the last bit of my self-respect is lying on the tiles, waiting for me to pick it up.
“The size of Wisconsin?”
She blinks… and then blinks again.
Oh, I am so getting that shotgun!
~ finis ~
© 2013 – Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph – © 2012 – Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw. All Rights Reserved.