I gathered my things and headed for the front door of my parent’s house. I was supposed to spend Saturday night entertaining Allison in Philly but things got complicated and I got sick. So she stayed in DC and I reverted back to being a child, spending the evening with my Mommy and Daddy.
“The lock is stuck,” I yelled over my shoulder to the den where my mom was nestled into the corner of the leather sectional.
“Keep trying,” she replied, rustling the newspaper to remind me she was busy.
“Um, if I try any harder I’m scared I’ll break the key,” I said, knowing she'd respond to the threat of a non-functioning front door lock.
My mom got down to business with some curious move that was one part jiggling and two parts turning. I meanwhile relayed the story about my departure the last time I visited them. How I walked through a spider web that spanned across the two front shrubs flanking the walkway down to the curb. That when I got in the car, I decided to turn on the interior light just to make sure I didn't have a spider riding shotgun and sure enough a massive brown thing with too many legs was waltzing across my messenger bag. I remained surprisingly calm as I went around to the other side of the car, opened the door and threw everything onto the ground. I saw a brown spider scurry into the darkness which was my signal to toss everything including myself back into the safety of my vehicle. If I learned one thing from that experience it was to avoid walking through spider webs.
“You’re free to go,” my mom announced as she released the lock and opened the door.
“Goodnight. Thanks for dinner.”
“Feel better, PJ,” she said with a cheek to cheek kiss.
I walked down to the curb via the driveway, unquestionably bypassing any spiderwebs. And as I approached my car, I saw something on the roof of it. A salamander? In a Philadelphia suburb? Holy. Mother. Fucker. That thing is like four inches long and, oh fabulous, a mere nine inches from the driver side door. I reached for my cell and dialed my parents.
“I can’t leave,” I said when my mom answered the phone.
“Where are you?”
“On the curb. Staring at my car. Which is currently home to a ginormous cricket. Or at least I think it’s a cricket.”
“How many legs does it have?” she asked.
“You really think I'm close enough to count the number of legs? More importantly, when did you guys move to Jurassic Park?”
“Paige Jennifer, how many legs?”
“Four. Yeah. I’m going with four.”
“Well, it isn’t an insect. Insects always have more than four legs.”
“First of all, that is the least comforting piece of trivia you could share at this very moment. And second, those massive black ants that used to take over my childhood bedroom in the springtime had four legs.”
“No, they have six. Or is it eight?”
“Four? Six? Eight? This is ridiculous. Can I come back in? I’ll just stay here tonight. It should be gone by the morning.”
“But the front door's locked. You saw how hard it is to maneuver. Just open and close the trunk. That'll scare it.”
“Been there. Done that. It didn’t move.”
“Do it again,” she instructed.
“Forget it," I said with a sigh. "I’m just going to enter through the backseat and crawl into the front."
“Holy crap! I can see that thing from here. You’re right. It’s huge!” my mom yelped.
“Right??? This thing is like the size of small child."
“I’m kidding. I’m back in the den watching Forty-Eight Hours,” she said with a chuckle.
“Nice. Your daughter is up against a Pterodactyl and your sprawled out in the den watching a rerun of some crappy crime show?”
“Uh huh. Hey, maybe it's a Praying Mantis. Did you know a Praying Mantis can eat a Humming Bird?”
“Enough with the science trivia. I feel like I'm in a really bad horror movie. Okay. This is getting ridiculous. I’m going in.”
“Keep me on the phone.”
“I can’t. Between me and my handbag, I don’t have a free…. OhmyGod! OhmyGod!”
“What?” she asked in a concerned tone, the newspaper crinkling under the pressure of her shifting body.
“It just took flight. That thing had the wingspan of a 747,” I said as I dashed for the door and snuck into the front seat. “I’m in. I hit my head on the way in but I'm in. And the doors are locked.”
“Well done, PJ. Get home safe and feel better.”
“Will do. Oh, and mom? Thanks for your help. Really. I could feel the love pouring through the phone, NOT.”