Thursday, December 1, 2011
This is a story about enormous spiders, medium-sized dogs and tiny flies; and it's a story about how what ought to have been a straightforward finale to an evening in the old homestead in Ireland turned into a veritable ten-ring circus.
Spouse and I were beginning to yawn in our chairs beside the fading embers of the fireplace.
Mike and Mater were far ahead of us and had been yawning for a good long while as the hour drew close to midnight.
Sibling K was nudging T and suggesting that they both should hit the road and get home before it got much darker, although, all things considered, it was at that peculiar time of night when it is so dark it can't possibly get any darker: but when Sibling K said it was time to go, well, it was time to go.
But not yet. I had a task for T before she could go home.
"T," I said, "I have a task for you."
T was interested, and inquired about the monthly salary.
"None," I said quickly, "but there are three spiders on the ceiling in the corner above my bed. They're black and they're hairy and I will not sleep a wink with them above me."
"Oh," said Mater with a visible shudder, "that's horrible. I hope they're gone by the time you go to bed. I know a few ways to get rid of them."
"Right-ho," said T. "Let me at them."
"Myself, I'd just plug in the vacuum cleaner and suck them up," said Mater, thoughtfully, to nobody in particular.
T murmured, "I wonder what names I'll give them? Tom, Dick and Harry, perhaps."
T, you must understand, gets along very well with spiders, and she was the perfect woman for such a job. In she went to the bedroom, and she jiggled the spiders about a bit until they tumbled down and into the sleeve of her thick winter coat.
"Lovely," I said, pushing her away very gently with one finger. "Thanks a million for doing that."
T thought she'd chat with me a while inside the bedroom, but I edged her out of there bit by bit. No sense in her dropping the trio of spiders out of her sleeve and onto the bed, after all.
Away she went after Sibling K, who was already packed up and ready to leave, and I made certain she didn't leave a trail.
Mike, Spouse and I stood at the gate and watched Sibling K and T off into the night, while Mater waved them off at the roadside.
Then a small fly, or a midge as some of us call them, went up my nose; it was a problem exacerbated by the fact that the winged fellow paused halfway, for goodness knows what reason, but he was neither up nor down, neither in nor out, and immeasurably annoying.
I could feel every twitchy movement. My agitation caused Dandy the dog to start barking, which promptly turned into howling, and while Mater was saying cheerio to her son, I ran into the bathroom and threw water on my face, attempting to get it up my nose.
I blew up, I blew down, but nothing seemed to work.
The determined midge fellow was still hopping in there.
"Help," I cried, "the midge won't come out."
Mike made suggestions, as did Spouse. Dandy barked.
In stamped Mater out of the frosty, moonlit night, and took one look at me, my hand to my face, unease and desperation my new expression.
"Look," sighed my dear mother, still thinking of spiders, wanting so much in her innocence to help me, and gliding to the cupboard before anyone could stop her, "I told you. I know the best way. I'll get the vacuum cleaner."
I made a hasty escape, and shortly thereafter I was bent double on the couch with my head buried in a cushion, tears streaming down my face, howling much like Dandy does- who, it must be said, jumped up beside me and licked my face furiously and with great concern for my well-being.
What with all the crying I did, in the end the midge left me for pastures less hysterical.
Over and above my wails I heard Mike explaining to a befuddled Mater that the issue was no longer one of spiders, but one of my having got a midget up my nose in the meantime, and that Mater had missed a significant portion of the story while she was out saying farewell to Sibling K and to T- and, one would presume, Tom, Dick and Harry along with them.
It was Spouse who calmly pointed out that Mike really ought to have mentioned that it was a midge, and not a midget, and off we all went again with new visions of midgets trapped in my nose, and it all culminated in my mother getting flustered and Dandy laughing at us through his teeth until Mater, wishing only to hush the barking dog, put a hand on Spouse's shoulder and commanded: "Sit! Sit! Good boy."
Oh, was that ever the wrong shoulder.
I stumbled to bed- mercifully a spider-free zone- before they could bring out the dancing sea lions or the juggling elephants or the performing midgets, and before Mater could even contemplate approaching my nose with a household appliance.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 4:18 PM