I’m walking into spider webs, so leave a message and I’ll call you back
I liked my new landlady – Lala -- immediately. And the longer she talks, the more I like her.
“I’m pro-spider,” she says, while pouring me a cup of coffee from beans smuggled into the country from Nicaragua – beans she ground herself this morning. She slams a pint of soy creamer in front of me and tosses a teaspoon in a glass sugar bowl like the one my mom reserved only for company. Today she’s wearing a royal-blue T-shirt that hugs a slender, athletic figure that appears – at least to me – a helluva lot more youthful than her 63 years.
“But all those webs start to make a house look, well, not so lived in,” Lala says. “So, I had to take a few down. I hate that.”
I kind of wish Lala had told me she was pro-spider before I rented the sunny yellow room overlooking a pretty, winding road – only three miles from campus – for the outrageously reasonable price of $550 a month including utilities. But on the other hand, my Grandma was pro-spider too, a woman who believed that spiders in your house brought luck.
For me, personally, it all depends. I grew up in a little house in rural Florida in the black, cool shadow of a great Oak that I am sure was already an adult when Hernando de Soto landed in Florida. We were constantly invaded by grey wood spiders as large as my hand is today – absolutely massive. I shudder now to think of it. But that also means that I’m not bothered much by the little guys – the smaller spiders most people see in their homes. I couldn’t care less about them.
Lala’s house is a cozy, old split level with a large deck over-looking a wild, green, wooded park. There’s at least one funky painting on every wall – three paintings in my bathroom alone. The parts of the house that are not covered in books are covered in plants – ivy spiraling its way toward the creaky, hardwood floors like a bored, naughty Rapunzel. I love it here.
Lala and I share the house with a young man I’ll call Hot Gary who lives, according to Lala, “under the kitchen.” Every once in a while, two fat, fluffy, white kitty cats named Pushkin and Charlie make an appearance.
Lala is tall, strong, and very attractive. She wears her hair in a short, blond wispy cut that manages to be both jaunty and chic. She has a booming voice – and appears to truly enjoy the company of others. She keeps seeking me out while I am desperately trying to put away my things. This is one of the few chicks I’ve ever met in my life who makes me look like a shrinking violet. And her laugh comes from some cave buried in the pit of her belly -- like the bellow of a lioness in her prime. Together, we’re loud as hell.
I soon learn that a conversation with Lala could go in any direction at any time. It’s sort of like riding Space Mountain. I’m sipping my coffee and trying to hang on.
“Ever notice how occult people are really wacky?” she asks me.
No, I think. You don’t say? Please DO go on. (If there’s anything I love more than crazy people, I honestly don’t know what it is.)
Somehow, my asking for directions to Target turns into her show-stopping description of trying to have shower sex with a boyfriend so paralyzed by obsessive compulsive disorder that he simply couldn’t get interested in her naked self until the towels were folded just right. And don’t even get her started on the inappropriate time outs for squeegee-ing.
“It was just not sexy,” Lala says.
“No,” I answer. “I can’t imagine how it would be.”
We laugh. We’re both horrifically loud. It’s only a matter of time before the neighbors file a noise complaint. Hot Gary may move out.
I return an hour later with red and white bags stuffed with new, white linens and blue hangers.
I set to work putting away half a dozen Space Bags filled with winter clothes I haven’t seen in eight years. That’s when the proverbial itsy-bitsy spider bungee jumps from a web attached to the ceiling and seems to stop right in front of my face – as if checking me out. It’s so teeny – about half the size of my pinky nail – that I’m neither alarmed nor afraid. I step around it, trying to respect Lala’s pro-spider household and hoping Grandma was right – that the pale little guy will bring me some luck.
I’m in an entirely different corner of the room when the same little spider dive bombs me again – twice now stopping right in front of my face – greeting me or giving me shit, depending on your perspective.
OK. Now I’m annoyed. Because I am trying to get things done dammit and I don’t speak spider for crying out loud and I don’t know what this little guy wants from me. The spider is now reminding me of one of those people on the plane who keeps talking despite that fact that you have so obviously opened a book and are trying to read/ignore him.
I’m back at the closet, trying to decide if I really need my red velvet smoking jacket or if it can go under the bed for the time being -- I like it because it makes me feel like Hugh Hefner -- when the little spider makes a third appearance. Again, dropping right down in front of my face.
At this point, I’m really annoyed. Here, I had tried to respect this little spider’s space – but it was obviously just trying to fuck with me. I was over it. Who’s at the top of food chain here, anyway?
So I just grabbed that tee-tiny spider by its little web and cast it on the floor. I felt bad for the spider. I felt bad for Lala. And I hope I hadn’t damaged any good luck headed my way.
But I just dropped everything to be here -- and anything getting in my face right now is going to have hell to pay.