This is a creepy time of year--a creepy, crawly, skittering, slithering season. Every nook and cranny has been vacated and all the occupants, who usually have the decency to hide away their hideousness, are scooting, all thousand legs a pumping, across the kitchen floor or tethering down from the chandelier to dangle above the steaming dish of carrots and peas or drowsily buzzing in our ears and clumsily crashing into our faces. Centipedes, spiders, and sleepy bees are as part of fall as the dry leaves that blow across the street and sound so much like the feet of fiends rushing up behind your back.
But, at my house, fall is the time of the spider.
A dusty web with a tiny black speck sits in every corner and spider eradication, among a few other things, is my responsibility.
“Look, look, there’s another spider.” I say as I lay in bed, flattened by the day, a day full of work, kids, spider hunting.
“Yeah, that’s a spider,” my husband answers. He still has his glasses on, but he’s definitely tucked in.
“I should get up and get that,” I say. “That could be a pregnant spider.”
“It’ll be there tomorrow.”
“But it might not be… I should get up and get it.”
“Do you want me to get it?” he asks.
I know his offer is sincere. The offer is enough; to accept would be too much.
I get up and spin a few sheets of toilet paper off the roll.
I’m tall enough to reach the corner between the wall and ceiling. I squish the spider between my fingers. The wad of toilet paper does not mask the sensation of the spider’s body yielding, I feel a gooey extrusion and hear a whispered pop.
“Chairman Mao rid China of flies by making it a national priority,” I say. “We should do that here, rid the house of spiders, make it an official decree… Dinner in exchange for spider carci. I should get the boys going on that…”
“You should do that,” he says, reluctant to spend his paternal power on spider reduction.
“I’ve killed a lot of spiders. Every day I kill a bunch. I ought to save them, just to see. I should collect them all and make a big spider ball.”
I imagine the spider ball, a basketball ball-sized sphere with a short hairy coating of crooked spider legs.
“It would smell,” my husband says.
“No, dead spiders don’t smell.”
“A billion of them, in a ball, would smell.”
“Things have to be wet to smell,” Another scientific fact. “Spiders are dry.”
“They would have to be wet to stick together. Spiders have wet stuff in them.”
“Hmmm…I bet we could get our spider ball in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
“I’m sure we’d have the only one,” he says.
“We could go on Jay Leno, or travel with the circus, or set up a roadside stand,” I say.
I read to my husband the hand written roadside signs I plan to construct to herald our great accomplishment:
“World’s largest spider ball… 100 feet.
Ancient Egyptian spider ball… 90 feet.
Your future revealed by the spider ball Oracle… 50 feet.
Have your picture take atop the spider ball …20 feet.”
We could be “carny folk.” My sons would lose that Catholic schoolboy-look as their hair grows long and their ties are re-purposed as belts and their pressed dockers get torn out at the knees. The wind from passing cars would blow the false curl out of my hair and leave it lank and I’d take to wearing scarves and long strands of beads. My husband would take off his dress shirt and hang it on the side mirror of the rusty RV as he climbed half in the engine to bang and curse at the ancient motor.
“Spider ball exhibit closed by order of the health department,” my husband reads from an imaginary newspaper that he holds up in front of my eyes.
The roadside stand, the hand painted signs, the faded red curtain, and the dimly lit spider ball all evaporate. Our kids, with dirty faces and slightly buckteeth, transform back into uniformed, well-scrubbed, orthodontically improved Catholic schoolboys. I hang up my gossamer gypsy scarves and crimp my hair into a corporate coif. With a sigh, my husband tightens the silk tie around his neck.
The web of our daily lives and obligations remain unbroken.
“We got do something,” I say. “This life is killing me.”