It started with a spider.
One night, I wandered into my laundry room at oh-dark-thirty and happened to catch a glimpse of a shadow on top of my washing machine. That shadow shouldn’t have been there, crouching in the deeper shadows surrounding it, and like the cussed fool I am, I said what every woman trapped in a horror movie says right before the bad guy jumps her.
Let’s see what that is!
Eyes pinned on the shadow, I cautiously stretched out an arm and flipped on the light. There on top of my washing machine sat a spider as big as my palm.
I screamed. It jumped. I’m telling you, this scene had all the makings of a campy Steve Martin comedy.
Still squawking, I snagged the dust pan and tried to smash the spider. The dang thing kept scrambling out of the way. After three or four missed swats on my part, it retreated over the top of the washing machine, out of sight.
Undeterred, I called in the big guns, a 17.5 ounce can of Hot Shot Wasp & Hornet Spray, the only poison I have on hand. (It’s my editor’s. He left it here by accident.) Thus fortified, I stormed into the laundry room (all 5′ 1.5″ of me), climbed on top of the washing machine, and squirted half a bottle of bee poison at the hapless spider while it tried to skeedaddle out of the way. Once it was good and subdued (i.e. the skeedaddling dwindled to the wounded crawl of a dying soldier across a bloody battlefield), I hopped off the washing machine, grabbed a broom handle (sans bristles), and killed the sucker dead.
Good fortune, eh? So what if after my victorious triumph, I staggered out of the laundry room hacking and coughing and couldn’t fold my laundry, thanks to the excess fumes? I’d escaped having a spider jump on me or, worse, bite me or my son.
I should’ve known things would go downhill from there.
The next day, my son and I were in the parking lot about to leave for lunch. My dad happened to be outside at the same time (he lives next door, or rather, we live next door to him). He called us over and pointed to a six-inch hole in the asphalt, near where our driveway merges into his. Under that hole? A sinkhole. The asphalt had rippled and bucked from lack of support for a good three feet uphill of the hole. My son looked in and estimated the sink was only about a foot deep, and Dad deemed it repairable with a sledgehammer and a dose of gravel.
“Two years,” I told my dad. “We just needed two more years.”
“Two years for what?” he asked.
“Two years for us to move. If this had happened in a couple of years, it wouldn’t have been a problem, since nobody would be living here.”
“Where are you going again?” he deadpanned, and I threw up my hands and walked away, shaking my head. It wasn’t like Dad and I hadn’t just discussed (read: argued about) me and my son finding a bigger place so we’d both have the privacy we each needed. Dad acted like we were trying to abandon him. In reality, we’re just doing what humans have been doing for millennia: Roaming until we find where we belong.
In the meantime, there’s a six-inch hole in my driveway, my car has a short in it that continually drains the battery, and I’ve got a leaky bathtub to fix before water from the shower rots the floor.
Oh, yes, and a (I hope) dead spider in my trash can.
Did I mention the $1200 in car insurance, on two aging cars that are barely worth $2000 each, plus over $600 in house insurance, all due in the same week? No? Well, there ya go.
This here is what our side of the Watson branch calls Watsonomics, a term borrowed from Married with Children‘s Al Bundy, who explained Bundynomics like this:
AL) Peg, have you ever heard of The Bundy Curse? PEGGY) You mean that foot odor thing? AL) No, the other curse! You see, the minute a Bundy starts having good luck, he immediately starts building up an equal amount of bad luck! It's simple Bundynomics. For example: when I was 18 years old, scored four touchdowns in one game, I became the greatest football player in the history of Polk High. PEGGY) And what bad thing happened after that? Al turns to Peg and glares at her. PEGGY) Oh! Like I'm the one who said, "Al, show no ambition. We can live off your income of rocks and leaves." Honey, there is nothing wrong with having good luck. AL) Yes, there is! And you know what's worse then a Bundy having good luck? PEGGY) A Bundy wearing Speedos while having good luck? AL) Good guess, Peg, no. A Bundy admitting he's having good luck, because that's when the bad luck starts!
Bad luck after good. That explains Watsonomics perfectly. Just when we hit smooth sailing, the Hand of God reaches down and smacks us, sort of the same way Emeril does when he’s seasoning a recipe.
Bam! You think that’s good luck? Ha! Wait ’til you see what I have in store for you. Bam, bam!
But hey. At least I didn’t wind up like Denny in “The Cocoon” by John B. L. Goodwin, as a cocoon after he had the gall to kill a moth for his collection. I read that tale as a kid the way anybody with any sense reads an Alfred Hitchcock anthology, at night under the covers with a flashlight. If strange knocks start alternating between the front door and the window, you can forget it. I’m not going outside to investigate no matter how much bug spray I have in hand.