Leaving Tina’s house tonight, I walked through a spiderweb and nearly started to panic.
Have you ever felt your brain cells seem to sharpen inside your head, and plug into a specific area of your body?
As the web strands wrapped around my knees, I believe I could feel the firing of synapses, like the busy-sounding bleep bloop on a cartoon scientist’s giant control panel.
Because Tina’s front porch has black widows, you see. Big, nasty ones. I’ve seen them, lurking in the rosebush and under the rocking chair.
And I’d just finished talking to her about the Project, and what a novel thought it is that this is going to happen, unless something happens to prevent it…in lieu of this will only happen if something else happens to make it possible.
A black widow bite would be just the thing, wouldn’t it? Like just the exactly perfect damned thing.
Physical harm doesn’t frighten me as much as it probably ought to. Witness my habit of driving sans seatbelt, my willingness to walk down Flatbush Avenue at 3am, or that time I followed the saxophone player around the Latin Quarter until the streets were deserted and there was only one more train… (Going my way, fortunately).
Last year, walking through what might potentially be a nest seething with venomous spiders would have been just another FTW moment.
“What, you’re going to kill me with a spider bite? Big win for you…way to show everyone who’s in charge.”
(N.B.—I’m not entirely sure whom these comments were directed toward.)
But now that I have something that I want to stay alive for, it’s different. Panics caused by emotional threats are, by comparison, nearly welcome; after all, they make good copy. But physical threats are enjoying a renaissance .
At any rate, I’ve survived long enough to write this…no doubt because I spent ten minutes shaking out my sweater like a matador having a seizure, before getting in my car to come home.
But I can still feel the phantom skeins of web tickling the back of my legs, and just when I convince myself it’s nothing, I feel the intermittent hint of something is crawling in my hair.
There’s always something to be afraid of. If it’s not fear of failure and stagnance and mediocrity, it’s fear that your life will be cut short just as it’s about to start.
Aug 5 2012