Saturday, July 9, 2011

As Long As You're Peeing Anyway

I was in the Convention Center the other day and went to the restroom to pee and there, near my left foot, was a big black spider. The rest of the women in the room were very lucky, although they didn't know it, that it was me in that stall and not my friend Casey. If Casey is startled by a spider, or, frankly, if there's one anywhere within the county lines, she will emit a shriek that could be used to evacuate an entire town. She can't help it. She's like most of the rest of us, only way louder. I've heard this shriek a few times, and it is not possible to hear it without suffering a little urine leakage. So I guess if you're going to find an indoor spider, the restroom is probably not the worst place to be.

My friend is a calm, competent, multi-tasking wonder of a woman with freakish self-control, but she is undone by spiders. Her husband, early on in our friendship, demonstrated The Shriek for us by bringing in a dangling spider and passing it briefly in front of her face. He wanted us to see what he had to contend with. It was impressive. Scared the silk right out of the poor spider, who bobbed along the ground like underwear with sprung elastic. The shriek was followed by a thunking sound. That was the sound of months of our lives being sheared off.

A lot of people have a problem with spiders. I don't. I think they're interesting and most of them are beautiful, and as long as they're not in bed with me I'm happy to leave them be. I do have a little problem with snakes. Not prepared-for snakes, which are handsome and silky, but snakes with insufficient signage. A properly announced snake is a delight. I react strongly to sudden snakes, however, and also feel that they do not belong in the water or in trees.

One day on my mail route years ago I stepped in the epicenter of a nest of baby garter snakes, a hundred of them, and they all slithered out at once on every possible radius. All I could see was movement, movement totally inappropriate for a solid patch of ground, as though I had stepped in a black hole. In case you want to know what it feels like to step in a black hole, well, it's zero to intestinal-flu in point-five seconds, followed by a generalized internal liquefaction. Aftershocks of the willies continue regular as malaria for--well, I'll have to get back to you as to when they stop.

The reactions to spiders and snakes are probably hard-wired into us at this point in our evolution. The parasympathetic nervous system comes into play and floods us with adrenaline to prepare us for either fight or flight, or, as the case may be, just standing there leaking urine.  It was originally developed to help us deal with tigers. We use it to this day in preparing for a bout of public speaking, in case there's a tiger.

As it turns out, the spider at the Convention Center was glazed right into the tile floor of the restroom. It wasn't real at all. Ha ha, you wacky city employees! What an artistic sense of humor you have! You are truly the civic dickens, you are! I do think the ceramic toilet rat was a bit much.


  1. Oh that is so not fair to have a permanent spider in the restroom. There better be one in the mens room too!

  2. Roxie sez
    In the men's room, they probably have the wall next to the urinals marked in alternating sections of 8 inches and 20 centimeters. Real men piss on spiders. So unhygenic!

  3. Some bright light found that glazing a fly into a urinal improved cleanliness in the men's bathroom substanilly. Apparently if we have something to aim at, we are more accurate.

  4. Ewwww! Got all creepy-crawler and leaky just reading this! You're a riot!

  5. Unexpected snakes will do it to me, too - especially if I'm weeding the ivy and they're in it.

  6. It's strange -- I hate spiders and anything that flies and stings (bees, wasps, etc.), but I have no fear of snakes. Weird!

  7. I would back my daughter in a spider-scream fest with your friend any day. You have not heard piercing until you've heard Hallie encounter an 8-legged. So I am grateful, Murr, to have this warning about the Portland Convention Center. The echoes in such a location would probably destroy the hearing ability I've managed to retain.

  8. Daughter #3 has occasional arachnoleptic fits, not so much screaming as gasping and running.
    My architect husband wondered out loud how you sell a client on a unique feature like that.
    Hilarious piece of writing.

  9. Ah. Probably an easy sell in Portland, where we are required to Keep Portland Weird. We're lucky they didn't install an audio system that would play Phantom Of The Opera when you flush.

  10. A division in our house. I am not good about snakes, himself is not good about spiders. Though I am the one who was bitten by a spider and had a hand blow up to soccer ball dimensions.
    Re the peeing. My niece was toilet training her son with the use of a ping pong ball in the toilet. He loved it. And when he ran out of urine went and got a water pistol. Stopping for a drink to reload himself as well.

  11. Ok, true story. I was sitting on the toilet one morning..not really paying attention and thinking deep thoughts when I saw movement on the counter within 8 inches of my face.

    It was the biggest nastiest looking bug I have ever seen. It was the size of my thumb. It wiggled it's antennae at me and I screamed bloody murder and ran out of my bathroom w/my undergarmet at my ankles.I think I closely resembled a potato sack racer if you get my drift.

    Unbeknownst to me, the neighbors heard my scream and called the cops. Yes, it was that blood-curdling. I am standing in my living room, undergarmets still around my ankles, when I hear a knock at the door.I spin around in horror.

    My door had a clear glass peep hole. The cops were staring in said peep hole.

    Either they got there in record time or I stood there, stupefied, by the gawd-awful insect forevah and a day.

    Either was one of life's most embarrassing moments. I had them at least come in and kill said bug..its the least they could do for the howl/visual I gave them.

  12. You're kidding me! Never suspected that your spider was going to be a work of art! Love the phrase: snakes with "insufficient signage"!

    I wanted to hit "like" on techo-babe's comment!

  13. a healthy bowel chilling terror of spiders is simply a sign of intelligence. they are at war with us and it is us or them. and they have ninja stealth skills. and too many eyes. and spindly articulated legs with creepy hair. and weird mandibles. . .urine leakage

  14. Spiders don't scare me either, but I share your feelings about snakes I don't know are there...

    My daughters, however, have much the same reaction to bugs as your friend...


  15. Snakes, spiders, creepies, crawlies, I can handle them all. But toads, don't get me started on toads.
    And how much they seem to love campsite bathrooms.
    I have pee-ed on my feet a couple of times ...

  16. I saw this thing some time ago where the Danish glaze flys into men's urinals. Claims it improves their aim.

  17. Just last night I received the 911 call from my wife to dispense of a spider in the bathroom. Why the spiders like to congregate in bathrooms is beyond me! It was quickly dispatched with our handy "Dust Buster" which must have about 30 spider carcasses in it by now.