Wednesday, July 28, 2010

COLUMN: Death Spider

Whew! Well, it took a lot of work and a lot of effort, but I'm finally all moved in to my new house.

At least that's what I'd say if I was Bizarro Shane who lived in a world where everything went according to plan. Tragically, I am Real Shane, who can't ever get anything done without a myriad of foibles, follies, and column fodder getting in the way.

Truth be told, I'm still very much un-moved, despite having taken last week off to get the deed done. It turned out, as I was frantically throwing my entire life into a sea of cardboard boxes, that about 80% of what I was packing was destined for the basement of the new house. The basement we plan on finishing. The basement that's currently home to a sea of Fiberglass and insulating foam and one very over-worked father, whose help on Project Basement has gone from "invaluable" to "indescribable" and "perhaps worthy of a commemorative statue."

Everyone on Earth should be as lucky as I to have a newly-retired father in possession of the home-improvement chromosome who was just itching for a new project. Every day, usually while I'm at work, the man has been driving up from Galesburg, slaving away by his lonesome in my new basement, and usually heading home before I'm even off work. I swear to you all in print, he called me at work the other day to ask my permission to eat a SALTINE out of my kitchen. Meanwhile, my job in this entire affair is to walk in to the house every night open-mouthed and go "whoooooa" when I see all the work he's done for me. Yes, it's a difficult life I lead. Trust me, though, I will see to it that the man never runs out of saltines in his life.

Still, the basement is nowhere near ready for habitation, let alone piles and piles of my smelly unsightly stuff. So rather than having to move and then move again and again while playing ring-around-the-remodel (fact: "stuff" is heavy,) I decided at the last minute to postpone the official relocation until we've at least got a floor and some drywall up in my future underground lair. This gives my dad room to work at the house and me room to live at the apartment.

So, even though the move is delayed a few weeks, it's finally starting to sink in: YOWZA, I OWN A HOME. Like a real person. Like a bona fide taxpaying member of society. And it's kind of giving me the willies.

Actually, it's been kinda cool, though it still sort of feels like I'm just playing house -- like it's a really complicated role-playing game that soon I'm gonna tire of and go order some pizza. The other night, my girlfriend and I went shopping for some toiletries and home decor type stuff. As we keyed into the house, arms full of all this normal-people-homeowner-y stuff, I think -- maybe for the first time in my weird little life -- that I felt like a real honest-to-gosh adult (and it only took me 39 years! Yay me!)

Good thing it only lasted for about seven minutes.

I had already made it out the back door and down the steps when I saw it. My girlfriend was trailing me a few paces so I had enough time to yell, "Blaaaa!" Happily, Amy knows by now that "Blaaaa!" is Shane for "hey-there's-something-really-creepy-out-here-and-you-should-probably-not-follow-me-at-this-time," so she stopped in her tracks.

This was a good thing, because her tracks would have led her face-to-face with the hairiest, gnarliest, most disturbing spider I've seen in some time. And at that moment, it had descended from Creepytown USA to hang out on its little web right in the middle of my back doorway, as if to say, "Umm, w'sup people? I don't seem to recall giving you express permission to move into my house."

I don't deny the fact that I'm a huge wuss when it comes to nature. Bees of any nature mortify me, beetles are pretty much disgusting, and don't get me started on snakes and, well, most of the reptile family in general. But I'm usually not a gigantic weenie when it comes to spiders. Some of them are actually pretty cool. This was NOT one of them.

This was, quite clearly, a demon spider sent from hell to cause pain and misery to all those around it. It was not a happy little "ooh-lookit-my-pretty-web" spider. No, this was a tiny-legged, hairy vampire with a HUGE abdomen presumably full of the innards of previous homeowners. It was the kind of spider where the only positive outcome MIGHT just be that you develop superpowers after it bites you with its vorpal snicker-snack. I was having NOTHING to do with this spider.

That was about the point where Amy shouted "Nyaaaaaaaaaaaah," which is Amy for "oh-I-see-it-too." Thus began a tense 30 seconds of silence, where each of us -- man, woman, and spider -- waited to see who would make the first move. It was Amy. "Don't just stand there, kill it!" she yelled to me.

"Ummm, no thanks much. I'm good. I think it's the spider's house now. We should just go." But then I had a brainstorm!

"Hey, there's a can of Raid in the kitchen! Douse that sucker!"

Amy went and got the stuff, which I believe was designed to kill ants and roaches but, hey, surely wouldn't be a picnic for spiders, right? So she comes out with the can and gives our arachnid friend a hosedown in liquid death. But rather than be a good little spider and dropping dead, it just sort of flailed about in a now-I'm-seriously-ticked-off sort of way. This was Rambo the Spider, and now he was looking at me like "You drew first blood!"

This is when Amy pulled her best move. A move that only girls can do. A move that out-wusses even me. I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.

"Kill it! Quick! It's Charlotte and we just destroyed her web! She wasn't hurting anyone and now she's in pain! Kill it!"

I had a decision to make. Not Shane the fraidy wuss-boy. Shane the Home-Owning mature adult. As you can probably guess, the decision I made was fantastic.

And I'll tell you all about it next week.

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