Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spider Busters!

I know that 99% of spiders can’t hurt you.*

I realize that some spiders are even tinier than ants.

I understand that I could easily squish a spider with my shoe.

But when I see one of these hideous spawns of Satan, all this good sense leaves me and I can’t look at it, be in the same room with it, or even be in that room after some brave warrior has slain the beast. I will scream, run, and clamp my eyes shut to avoid having my soul sucked into the Spider Vortex.

I can’t explain this fear any more than I can explain why my legs are stubbly immediately after I shave. All I know is that it’s ridiculous and makes me feel more like a child than anything else in my life. And I eat Froot Loops while watching Spongebob Squarepants.

My 18-year-old brother Thomas shares this fear. His manly, heroic cries of “ew ew oh my god ew!” often warn me to stay away until the coast is clear of eight-legged squirmy things.

Thomas and I were staying up late one night a year or two ago, discussing the use of subtle humor in such fine quality TV programs as ALF, when we were brutally assaulted by a monstrous spider the size of my head.

What actually happened was, we were sitting in the den, engaged in deep conversation… 

Brave Thomas: “Whatever happened to Max Wright?”

Cowardly Amanda: “Who?” 

Brave Thomas: “The dad from ALF…” 

Cowardly Amanda: “…….”

when all of a sudden, both of our eyes were drawn down in slow motion to the floor next to the couch. Inches away from where my foot fearlessly swung back and forth, a spider of mythic proportions (approximately 2.5” in diameters, not counting legs) emerged from the gaping cavern that was the underneath of our couch.

He looked sort of like this:

[(c) Thomas Thiel 2011]

He ran/slithered across the floor, heading straight for Thomas at the computer. Our eyes bugged out of our heads, and we both leapt up and fled to the kitchen where we quickly realized we couldn’t hide forever. The den was the most frequently used room in the house, and if we let our guards down later the spider was sure to crawl inside our clothes while we slept and feast on our organs.

We had to take action.

This was our moment to become heroes.

We knew the abomination had headed toward the computer desk, so Thomas tentatively pushed it to the side while I cowered in the doorway supervising this death mission. I gave helpful advice, like, 

“I don’t see him.”


“What if he’s ON us??”

Mr. Spider came racing out of from under the desk (nowhere near where we were looking) and disappeared into the shadows of the wall. After we emitted some piercing shrieks, we were able to collect ourselves enough to brainstorm some more. The den is very badly lit anyway, and it was nighttime, so it seemed pretty hopeless by this point until we realized that there was this nifty invention called a flashlight that you can use to place a spotlight on rabid arachnids lurking in the shadows.

Thomas gave up on peering around and through the desk, so I helped him move it to the middle of the room to give us a clearer view of our target. But the little bugger was apparently half-chameleon, because he was STILL invisible to our poor, strained, terrified eyes and our weak flashlight.

We tried throwing random objects in the direction of where we thought the spider was hiding out, such as the remote control, nail clippers, and a bottle of lotion that we refused to touch afterwards, dubbing it “spider lotion” from that point on.

We decided that he had probably passed away from natural causes, because we had spent the better part of the night/early morning trying to find him and we were tired and lazy. It was around 3:00 a.m. when we wrote out a note to our mom, explaining why the den was in disarray and why we were too scared to put it back the way it was. Guilt overtook our hearts, however, and we thought we should at least put the desk back against the wall.

Big mistake.

That little bitch came sauntering out in the open, where we could easily have killed it had we not been stunned into frozen shock. Once I broke out of my shock, I screamed and flailed my arms, because often if you try to take flight with your arms, spiders will magically disappear. It’s like a spell. I read it in Harry Potter.

I motioned for Thomas to DO something, but he couldn’t understand my sign language and I was still too terrified to speak, so by the time he figured out what I wanted from him the spider was lost in the tangle of wires again. But this time, I had watched his entire journey there. We devised a plan quickly, and after I gave Thomas time to wrap a mountain of paper towels around his shoe (he didn’t want spider guts on it), I threw a tissue box right at the spider’s stupid face with my best softball pitcher swing. It landed softly amongst the wires, driving the monster out of his cave. Again. But we were ready for him this time.  Thomas obliterated him with a war cry of “OH MY GOD EW EW EW EWWWWWWW!”

It was 3:30 a.m. by the time this terrible experience ended.

Our mom didn’t hear a single one of our screams… hopefully we’re never murdered while she’s sleeping.

We nicknamed ourselves “The Spider Busters.”

*This value is estimated. It is always safer to assume that all spiders can and will murder you with a rusty saw while you sleep.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Charming Adam

Meeting guys online is not one of the things I’m proud to say that I’ve done, but it does lead to the hysterically endless ridicule of clueless guys and awkward dates. Well, one clueless guy on one awkward date. After Adam, I considered becoming gay, staying single forever, and abstaining from all social contact.

I, like, billions of other people, have a facebook. And when random guys with no friends in common send me friend requests after I’ve been dumped from a 2-year relationship and have had no luck with boys in the following months, I accept. Especially if they offer me compliments to feed my wounded, attention-starved ego.

After I became “friends” with Adam, we chatted on Facebook a couple times. Our conversations mainly consisted of us asking each other what we were up to and then making small talk about those activities. Somewhere in the course of this interaction, Adam decided that we should also begin texting each other so that he could contact me at any time of the day.

He took my willingness to give him my phone number as a sign that I viewed him as my soulmate, so he made arrangements to take me out on our first date and sweep me off my feet. We met at the mall for some reason, even though I despise the mall.  The very, VERY first thing he said to me in person was, “Soooo, am I what you expected?” while baring his teeth at me in what I’m sure he thought was a winning smile, and hugged me. It was the single most awkward moment of my life. I replied, in my this-is-how-I-get-all-the-fellas voice, “Yeah, pretty much.”

We walked around the mall for approximately seven hours, talking and getting to know each other. Getting to know each other in Adam’s world meant asking me things like, “So do you usually wear Sperrys or flip flops or uhhhh…?” and then, when I answered flip flops, “So do you like Abercrombie flip flops or Rainbows or uhhhh…?” On the escalator, I didn’t even have the distraction of walking so I was forced to pay extra-close attention to his tedious questions:

Charming Adam: “So do you like your hair or uhhhh…? I like my hair. I just got a new haircut and I really like it. Do you like your smile or are you self-conscious about your teeth or uhhhh…?  I showed my friends your picture and they thought you were like twelve years old. You’re not, though, right? Ha, ha, ha.”

Me:  ” …………Ha ha. Yeah.”

Charming Adam: “Sorry if I keep staring at you. It’s just because you’re so pretty.”

Me: *suddenly fascinated by a kiosk of ugly studded belts forty yards away*

At several different times, I tried telling a story about something dumb to alleviate the awkwardness between us.  I was giggling and trying to act natural, so obviously I was pretending he was someone who didn’t wear jeans with flames and dragons on his back pockets. Each time I finished my pointless story, I would glance at him to see if he would add anything that would result in an actual conversation. And each time he would look off in another direction, nodding absently, and change the subject back to himself or more multiple choice questions:

Me:  “…and that’s how I found out that I shouldn’t cut my own hair! Ha, ha!!”

Charming Adam: *nodding and reading a Banana Republic sign with great interest*

Me: “Ha, ha, ha, that story entertained me so much, I’m momentarily distracted by how your face looks like you are constantly smelling dog poo.”

Charming Adam: “Well, that’s not interesting at all, but let me tell you what is. I use Colgate toothpaste. Do you prefer Colgate or Crest or uhhhh…?”

Finally, he decided we could leave and go to Chili’s for dinner. Our date was still only 1/3 over, because for some ungodly reason we had to go to a movie after THAT. I’m not sure why I agreed to a three-part date for my first meeting with this strange boy, but I do know that I’ll never ever do it again.

I offered to drive so that I could avoid both the awkwardness of sitting in a passenger seat with nothing to do, and getting driven against my will to an abandoned parking lot in the ghetto. We got in my car and I turned the radio up extra-loud to drown out his constant requests to know my preferences for different products. I think he may have been working undercover, surveying unwilling people on their preferred brands.

Me: *singing badly and loudly* “…Whose bed have your boots been under? And whose heart did you steal, I wonder?...”


Me: *still singing and wanting to cry from frustration* “…THIS TIME DID IT FEEL LIKE THUNDER, BABY…?”

We got to Chili’s, which is directly next to the mall where we were just shopping, but somehow still the longest car ride I’ve ever taken. Because the universe hates me, there was a ridiculous line of people waiting to eat and we had to sit on a bench outside and wait for our names to be called, forcing some more small talk.

Charming Adam: “I love this restaurant. When you told me it was your favorite, I was like, yeah let’s go there! And you were all, ‘we don’t have to go there if you don’t want.’ And I was all, “of COURSE we’re gonna go to your favorite restaurant!’” 

Me: “Actually I told you my real favorite was Red Lobster. But you said that was too expensive.”

Charming Adam:  “Ha, ha, you’re such a joker. You’re so funny. I like funny girls. I always love to make girls laugh, too, it’s kind of my thing.”

Me: *hasn’t laughed this entire time* “Oh…” *stares in fascination at the blinking object that will vibrate when our table is finally, mercifully ready*

After probably twenty minutes of him demanding to know my favorite EVERYTHING, while I tried not to fall asleep or spit in his face, we were finally able to go sit at a table and get Phase 2 of Operation: Desperate Facebook Date out of the way. We ordered our drinks, he exclaimed over how we liked the same beverage, I feigned slight interest, and then he excused himself to go to the bathroom.

Charming Adam: “I’m going to go to the bathroom. I have to pee quite often, I even had to stop and use the bathroom at a gas station on the way to meet you today. Okay, be right back!”

Me: *contemplating leaving him there, faking a seizure, or hiring someone to pretend to be my boyfriend and beat him up, or at least threaten him violently*

Of course I didn’t do any of those things, because I was getting free dinner and compliments. No overweight, recently-dumped 20-year-old girl with low self-esteem can turn down that sort of magical evening. So I gritted my teeth and wondered how offended he would be if I asked him to put on a David Beckham mask. At least the mask would help block out the sound of his voice and the endless things he was saying.

Adam came back from his peeing break, and we ordered our food. I ordered fried shrimp with Texas cheese fries. NOM NOM NOM. I paid no attention to what he ordered because I had visions of bacon and shrimp dancing in my head.

They brought out my Texas cheese fries first, as an appetizer. I was ready to have all that gloppy cheese clogging my arteries ASAP, until something terrible happened.

He thought he was entitled to some of them. Some of MY food. He had an entrĂ©e AND a side dish coming, while all I had was these fries, and a few pieces of shrimp. He didn’t even ask, he just dug right in!

Charming Adam: *mouthful of bacon and cheese. MY bacon and cheese.* “This is soooo good. I’m so glad I’m buying us dinner here. Good thing I just got paid, ha ha. Usually when I go on dates I take them to pretty nice restaurants like this. Where do you usually go on dates?”

Me: *glowering* “I don’t really go on dates.”

Charming Adam:  *chewing with his mouth wide open* “Gosh, I don’t know why! You’re so pretty! All the girls I’m talking to right now are pretty, but you’re right up there with them. I saw on your Facebook that you used to be really thin, but I like the way you look now better. I like my girls kind of curvy, ya know?”

Me: *drowning fat-girl sorrows in cheese-covered fries*

Charming Adam: “I like that you eat. So many girls are conscious of their weight; it’s great to see that you’re not like that.”

When the bill came, Adam of course had to announce to me how much it was, then make a big show out of pulling money out of his wallet. He left approximately $1 for a tip, and I kicked myself for not bringing any money of my own to make it a decent tip. Then I had to sit there and stare at my cup while he went to the bathroom. Again.

Charming Adam: “I’m gonna run to the bathroom again! Do you not have to go? Gosh, that’s weird. I guess I have a tiny bladder, and I drank all that Dr. Pepper… I’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere! Ha, ha!”

Me: “I won’t. I probably couldn’t get out of the parking lot fast enough to beat you out of the bathroom.”

Phase 2 of Operation: Desperate Facebook Date completed.

We headed to the movie theater. It was right down the road from Chili’s and the mall, just time enough for Adam to interrogate me some more.

Charming Adam: “So, you drive a Nissan. Do you like Nissans or did you want something else, or uhhh…? I drive a Ford because it’s American-made and they’re better than all other cars combined.”

Me: “I bought this because I could afford it.”

Charming Adam: “Oh, well I think you can’t af-FORD to NOT drive a Ford. HA HA HA HA.”

Me: “Oh look, a hobo!”

We bought tickets to see Repo Men. Adam asked if his college sweatshirt counted as college ID to get the student discount. I pretended not to know him and walked inside to look at movie posters and things that weren’t his ugly face or his ugly shirt.

I declined to eat popcorn or nachos, hoping he would follow suit and I wouldn’t have to listen to him chewing during the movie. This was the only time during the evening that luck was on my side, because he did not get any snacks to munch on and ruin my dark quiet escape from him.

Unfortunately, this theater had arm rests that you could fold up if you wanted to create a more intimate setting for you and your movie buddy. He immediately folded up the armrest in between us when the lights went out, draped his arm over my shoulders, pulled me closer, moved his arm down to my waist, and rested his hand firmly on my thigh.

I immediately sat up and leaned the other directions. I would sit in this position for the rest of the movie, while he loudly whispered confused questions.

Charming Adam: “Are you okay, or do you feel sick, or uhhhh…?”

Charming Adam: “Are you mad at me for something, or uhhhh…?”

After a while, he gave up on discovering how wildly uncomfortable he had made me, and settled for making conversation about the movie.

Charming Adam: “Wow, I didn’t see that coming, did you?!”

Charming Adam: “That’s disgusting, I think I’m gonna be sick.”

Charming Adam: “Good thing I peed before the movie!”

I don’t remember anything about the movie except that Jude Law was sexy. 

I drove back to the mall where his car was, not talking and feigning sleepiness. We hadn’t spoken since before the movie started and he tried to cop a feel. He rambled on and on, not seeming to realize anything bad had happened.

Charming Adam: “Wow, this date has gone well! What do you think? I’m glad I decided that we should go to a movie AND dinner, AND walk around the mall. I feel like I really got to know you. You’re a very special girl, I could tell that as soon as I saw your profile picture on Facebook. The one with all the cleavage.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Charming Adam: “We’ll have to do this again sometime, since we hit it off so well! Of course I have other dates this month, but if you let me know what you want to do I’ll fit you in!”

He seemed to think that if he made himself seem like a ladies’ man, I would want him more. It wasn’t working for him.

In the parking lot, I pulled up next to his piece-of-shit Ford and said adios, cursing him in my head and thinking of all the things I was going to tell my friends when I got home without making myself seem like a moron for going out with him in the first place.

I sat there and waited on him to get out, then realized he was wanting something. Not being a professional dater, I hadn’t even thought about how he might expect a good-night kiss. I slowly unbuckled my seat belt and got out of the car with him, thinking about how his breath probably still smelled like my bacon and cheese fries.

I walked with him to his spectacular Ford, where he opened his arms and I hugged him, because anatomically in this position it would be IMPOSSIBLE for us to kiss. He was at least a foot taller than me. Thankfully, he seemed satisfied with this, told me to call him when I got home, got in his car and left.

I avoided his calls and texts for the next eight months.