How to Scare People at Wal-Mart

7 03 2008

Those of you who come here often know that I am hobbling around with swollen legs and feet right now. Mostly, I’m stuck in the house, except for fun-filled trips to various radiology places for MRIs, CTs and other interesting initials. Basically, I’m able to make one little outing a day before feeling pretty wiped out. Yesterday, however, was a test-free day. Since a winter weather blast was soon to pummel nearly the entire Midwest, I made the decision to hit the Super Wal-Mart. We needed just a few items to tide us over, and this was the one store where I could get everything I needed in one place.

Due to my current condition and the fact I was going in the middle of the day on a work day for most people, I made the bad decision to venture out of the house in the following condition:

- I did not shave

- I made only a half-hearted attempt to fix my morning hair

- I wore my relatively out-of-style glasses instead of bothering with contacts.

- I wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt is decent. The sweatpants, however, are awful. They are very worn. They are baggy. They are the homeless-man, mentally-ill man, “Ma’am-can-you-spare-a-dollar”-man kind of sweatpants.

[My wife sketched it here.]

As if this was not bad enough, one of the few items I needed to buy was a package of small girl’s underwear. Our toddler is in the potty training phase, and we needed more.

As if this was not bad enough, you need to know that I take shopping seriously. I’m not a just-grab-what-you-need-and-throw-it-in-the-cart kind of guy. I’m married to a CPA so I compare prices, quality, etc. In addition to this, our toddler is a bit fussy about clothing. This was not a simple decision. I had to find primarily pink ones, or she might throw a fit about it. I had to weigh the options between tagless or not. I looked at the material, etc.

So, there I was, scary and all criminal-looking, in the middle of a normal work day, standing, unshaven, in the little girls’ underwear aisle, with a couple of packages in hand, studying.

After a minute or two, I began to notice mothers steering their children away from me. I decided I better just pick one before I had to have a conversation with a dreaded Wal-Mart security person. I wanted to shout, “It’s okay. I have a daughter and a job. I’m just sick.” However, I’m afraid it would have been only the last three words that would have stuck out.

I made a quicker-than-I-would-have-liked selection and got out of there.

Luckily, the other items I needed were not at all suspicious (milk, bread, etc.) Can you imagine if, by chance, we had also needed things like rope or binoculars? Yikes, I think I would have been detained.

I’ll just stay home today.





Face to Face with a Wolf Spider: Not Good

2 01 2008

The following is a true story. I wish it were not, and I am risking my very manhood making it public, but it is true. When we moved into our house, we discovered it to be the shelter for a plethora of spiders. I believe this to be the result of two main factors: 1. It was a relatively new neighborhood and had previously been a field. 2. Our particular house was only about a year old when we bought it and had been vacant for a month or so due to the previous owner having to move for her job.

Many a spider had been enjoying the human-free environment, and when we moved in, it became a daily occurrence to have a standoff with one of the eight-leggers. Let me make this clear: I do not like seeing, hearing about, reading about, or having nightmares about spiders. I realize they do good things for us, such as kill unwanted pests, but I prefer they do that just outside of the house or in the crawlspace. Having said this, the majority of the spiders we came across were small and looked pretty harmless. Yeah, “most” but not “all.”

For those of you who are not aware of the wolf spider, think tarantula but smaller (not THAT much smaller, though). We had the misfortune of finding a couple of these suckers in our house the first couple of months. The story below is about the dark, early morning that we had our closest call with one of these things. (I’ll say this right now. I’m the type of person that does not really like to kill things, even flies, but…sorry PETA…I’m not letting large spiders run around in our house, nor am I likely to be able to stand trapping it and putting it outside).

My wife likes to work out. She does not often miss a day, not even on a holiday, not even when she has to get up in the extreme a.m. during the overtime hours of tax season (she’s an accountant). One dark, early morning, as I no doubt lay snoozing in bed, possibly having a dream that involved a deserted island and that main woman from Lost, I was startled awake by a frantic wife jumping into bed and yelling something about a big hairy spider on the floor of the closet. Upon gaining full comprehension, I learned that it was a wolf spider “the size of Texas” and that it was actually on top of her workout shirt, which was on the floor.

At this point, I’m thinking to myself, “That’s it. We have to move away. NOW.” It soon became clear that my beautiful wife expected me to do something about the spider. Subsequently, it became clear to her that I had no intention of going anywhere near our closet in the next 24 hours or so.

If you are a guy, or you know any guy, you’ll understand how brilliant her next move was. She calmly stated, “I can call my dad to come over and get it.” It took only seconds for the following thoughts to enter my mind: For the rest of my life, I’ll have to hear the story of how my wife had to wake her dad at 5 a.m. to come kill a spider while her husband hid under the covers. This is the dad who works a real man’s job and hunts. I’m the husband who likes to write and works in psychology. (I do play sports…I felt a real need to throw that in here).

At this point, I had no choice. I was going to have to face one of my worst fears. I slowly got up out of bed and peeked into the closet. There it was. It was big; it was gross; it was staring at me in a mocking fashion, it was basically saying, “I’m huge, and you’re a loser.” My pulse quickened, and I began to sweat. I started thinking maybe we SHOULD call her dad. Maybe we could just avoid all extended family functions in the future. No, that wouldn’t work. I knew I had to take care of the situation. With my wife clutching my back and looking over my shoulder, I picked up a shoe. I was suddenly wishing I had much bigger feet, maybe a size 50, but alas, I was stuck with a size 10. I approached the spider about as fast as a turtle approaches a rock. I walked (or was it that my wife pushed me) closer and closer. I was within a couple feet of the thing when my wife felt it prudent to scream, “It’s a wolf spider. They jump!” Adrenaline pumping, we both flew out of the closet. I nearly broke my arm on the doorway, but I didn’t care. I was sure the spider could do much worse things than that to me. Her screaming, and our running also caused the spider to take cover in the deep recesses of the closet. Once we regained the nerve to go back in, we were deeply saddened to learn that we were going to have to search for the spider.

After some tense shoe box moving, we finally found it in a corner. The whole “jumping” thing had thoroughly freaked me out, and I was no longer willing to go at the thing with a shoe. I was now armed with the extension arm of the vacuum cleaner. This way, I only had to get within a couple feet of the monster. I also was happy to avoid hearing any form of crunching sound that may have occurred if I used the shoe method. With a shaky hand, I turned on the vacuum and jabbed the extension arm toward the creature. After we sucked the thing up, (I think my wife screamed again at this point), we actually put the whole vacuum cleaner out in the garage, fearing that the thing might escape somehow. I believe it was out there for three days before I brought it back in.

So far, we have had no further (knock on wood) close encounters of the giant spider kind. I apologize in advance, but below is a picture link of one of these guys on top of someone’s hands, someone who is obviously very mentally ill.

Yuck








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