Friday, November 6, 2009

A most unrelaxing turn of events

It is my last night in Pangal and Lorenzo's house, and so I decided to take a bath. I was covered in salt and sulfur from the day's adventure. Miles and miles of cliffside roads with a rickety trailer had frayed my nerves and the air high up in the Andes was dry and bitterly cold. The students would not stop making noises the whole day. I mean, when they weren't talking, they'd just make noises. I needed a hot soak.

The kids were all asleep and far away and the house was quiet and shut down for the night. I brought in The Wind Up Bird Chronicles and The Best American Poetry 2002 and a few episodes of arrested development on my Ipod just in case I was in there for hours and finished the two books, or lost interest. The bathtub was deep and just my size, and a pale blue color, like toothpaste. I set my books down and my shampoo and filled the tub up with hot water, then slipped in.

I barely had a moment to release my breath when I noticed the tarantula. It was hunkered on the wooden doorframe, preventing my escape from the bathroom. It was facing the other direction, pretending not to notice me. But it knew I was there. And it knew, just as I knew, that it held all the power in this moment.

I decided to adress it directly. After all, I couldn't just leap naked out of the bath and go running down the hall, which was my first impulse. Besides which, this was the only bath tub I would see until Christmas. And for some reason I'm never truly relaxed unless I'm in the bath or I'm wearing a clean pair of socks, and I'd very nearly run out of those as well. And so I spoke to the beast.

"You enjoy your spot on that doorframe, and I'll enjoy my bath, and we'll both live to see another day." And then I turned to my book and read three pages. Then I looked back at the wall. The spider had not moved. I read another half a page. I wasn't relaxed at all. Suddenly the burden of bath-time duties such as soaping and shampooing seemed exhausting. Whenever something touched me, like the shower curtain or the little beaded string on the drain, I would jump and flinch.

And then the unthinkable occured. I gave a check on the wall to see if the tarantula was still posted there. He wasn't. He had broken our little truce and taken off, no doubt inching his terrible body, remarkably reminiscent of a big hand of a hairy man, across the floor and into my bath. I shot out of the tub but then realized I had no where to go. When there is a tarantula in the room but you can't see it and you don't know where it is, it might as well be everywhere. Suddenly the pile of clothes I had left so carelessly on the floor was a potential spider nest. Even the books stacked on the shelf had created an unintentional fortress. Tarantulas, like all frightening things like ghosts or bats, can scuttle up a wall or across a ceiling just as easily as they can scuttle across the floor. No place was safe from this big guy.

So what can I say? That I 'sacked up' (a new term I learned from the kids) and remained in my bath and read from my book and washed my hair like a true soldier? Forget about it. I was out of there quicker than my head-first tumble down the stairs the other day in front of Lorenzo. I took only what I needed and I fled. I hope that the tarantula is in there foaming up with Aveda shampure and enjoying the Haruki Murakami novel, because one of us really ought to.

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