Sunday, September 13, 2020

I blame the spider

Originally published in the Miami News-Record, May 2019 

“Terrified” doesn’t adequately express how I feel about spiders. Abject horror, paralyzing, gut-deep fear is more accurate, but not quite. When bad weather is imminent, someone else must sweep the cellar. I would rather face down an EF5 tornado wearing nothing but an oversized t-shirt, leggings and my Crocs flip-flops rather than go into the cellar with creepy crawlies. We knew the storms would get going early in the day, so that morning Kady swept it out. I inspected and found it to my liking. 

For most of the other warnings (so. many. warnings.) that day it was basically get the kids, babies, and dog in the cellar and I stayed out. If I did go under, it wasn’t for long. It’s my duty as a lifelong Okie to stand in the yard during any tornado warnings. I think it’s in our DNA and I’m pretty sure my parents signed some kind of oath when I was born that they would continue this tradition with their offspring. 

Once Paul got home from work, he and I kept our vigil together on the porch while our little brood was tucked safely underground. After warning Number ?, we knew we had about an hour until the next one hit, so everyone came up, we got out stuff for sandwiches, and let the girls run a bit. I had no more finished making my sandwich when another warning went off. We were so tired of the chaos it took to get everyone down there so we waited a bit. I stood in the yard and watched the clouds. It felt different. Finally I told everyone to GO. I stood at the door of the cellar and watched the clouds start to rotate. Abby came up to video it and then the wind switched direction and even Paul, the tornado naysayer said, “GET UNDER!” The grandgirls were happily watching “Bubble Guppies” on their tablets, the dog was asleep on her bed, we had to threaten the men to refrain from any and all farting. It was pretty calm inside while the outside was a hot mess. Petal got sleepy, so I sat down in a lawn chair to put her to sleep. I felt a plop on top of my head.

About the time I said, “I think someone needs to check my head to make sure that was rain and not a bug,” Abby said in the calmest voice I’ve ever heard, “Mom. Don’t freak out. [absolute certainty I was definitely going to freak out] There is a spider over your head.” If she had said that while in a house, I’d have simply gotten up and run. In an 8x8 cellar you don’t run. You are trapped. You are trapped with a spider dangling menacingly over your head and there’s not a doggone thing you can do about it. It was actually a raindrop that had hit my head, but I imagined a virtual waterfall of spiders raining down from the tiny vent over my head. I let an involuntary whimper escape. Everyone in the cellar was just staring at me. Abby, again so calm, said, “Mom. I’m going to take off my shoe so I can kill it. I need you to slowly get up and not drop my kid, okay?” I got up and went as far away as I could get while she whacked that eight-legged monster with my favorite flip-flop (her shoes had gotten soaked earlier, so she was in my Crocs flips - shame I have to burn them now. Or at least, the left one.) “Okay, it’s done. It’s stuck to the ceiling but—“ I interrupted her with a shrieked, “IT’S STILL ON THE CEILING?!?!” And once again, my eldest, the voice of reason, said, “Mom. It’s the best I can do. It’s dead. Stay calm.” And then my youngest asked if she could wipe my tears. The tears I didn’t realize I was crying because I was so blasted scared out of my mind. It was not my proudest moment. But I did learn that my girls definitely know how to take care of their momma. 

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