Monday, July 18, 2011

There’s a World Going On Underground

Finding that cricket was the important thing. It was the turning point, the morale boost I’d been needing for several days.

It’s funny how that works, idn’t it? How something so small – as literally and figuratively insignificant as a cricket – can loom so large, psychologically speaking. How it can make its appearance and save the day at just precisely the right moment.

I mean… a cricket!

But it was 2 a.m., and me and Dwayne the Security Guard and Marty the Residentially-Disadvantaged Cripple were taking turns with the flashlight in the tunnels beneath downtown Houston, trying to find somewhere with a shower in it. And that’s when I saw the cricket.

And so I hooted and I hollered and I snatched the little hopping dude up off the ground before Dwayne or Marty knew what was going on, really, and then we found us a little spot at the bottom of a stairwell a little ways down from there. Dwayne and I stretched out our legs and we touched feet to form four walls of blue jeans all around that cricket, so he couldn’t hop away.

And then I reached into my backpack and I pulled out this little box. I opened it. It was just a little box like had probably housed a necklace or… you know, something like that, originally. I cupped my hand over the hairy thing inside, lifted it and I set it down in the general vicinity of the cricket I’d caught.

And there she was! Saint Athanasius the tarantula.

Despite their being right next to each other now, the cricket did not seem to take any notice of Saint Athanasius, and Saint Athanasius did not seem to take any notice of the cricket. This cricket I’d caught, who was, theoretically speaking anyway, Saint Athanasius’ dinner.

The cricket wandered off and away, and I tried to corral it back towards Saint Anastasius with a ball point pen. I had the ball point pen, I mean. Not the spider. Dwayne the Security Guard and Marty the Residentially-Disadvantaged Cripple kept their eyes fixed on the tarantula at all times.

“So,” Dwayne said, never moving his eyes from the spider. “What I don’t understand is, aren’t you married to two people? If one kicks you out, can’t you just go live with the other one?”

The cricket was hiding from me directly beneath Saint Athanasius’ many legs. Saint Athanasius herself, honed by millions of years of evolution to be efficient and brutal predator, was lifting individual legs – first this one, then that, then that, and so forth – so as to avoid touching the cricket. Hell, the cricket was the safest living thing around there. At this rate, I was going to die sooner than that cricket.

I said, “Well, there’s the rub, Dwayne. I tried that.”

I said, “Dana kicks me out for a week or two at a time once, maybe twice a year. Sometimes more, sometimes less, all depending on what it is she’s caught me smoking. But this time! This time, I figured HEY! I have a back-up ball-and-chain! You know?”

Saint Athanasius was very, very slo-o-o-owly – almost imperceptibly, really – going through some sort of extremely convoluted exercise with all her legs to make her way away from the cricket. Although I couldn’t be sure, the cricket looked to be attempting to give chase surreptitiously.

I said, “So I did what any good spouse would do. I headed over to Aesop and Anthony’s house. I walked right in and I called out, ‘Honey! I’m home!’ Just like it was Ozzie and Harriet or the Cleavers or… whatever… The Huxtables, maybe…”

When the cricket brushed up against Saint Athanasius this time, the tarantula sunk a quick fang into it, tagging and then releasing it. You ask me, I think she just wanted the cricket to leave her alone and hoped this non-lethal injury would end the matter.

But the cricket, he seemed eager. He came back around, basically harassing the spider now.

I said, “And what does my husband of four months – four months! I mean, we’re newlyweds! Newlyweds! – What’s he say to me in response? Hmm?”

My companions… I don’t even think they heard what I was saying by this point. Which is just as well, really, because I was mostly talking just to get it out and not to be heard. The wheels on Marty the Residentially-Disadvantaged Cripple’s wheelchair squeaked a little as he pushed himself closer to the vermin between my legs…

I said, “My husband, Aesop, says to me, ‘You can’t just move in here, Katy! This is my home with Anthony. This is our home, not a college dorm’.”

Everything was still for a second or two, and then Saint Athanasius made her move. She hopped and then a couple of her legs and a couple of the other things that looked like legs cupped the cricket as she sank her fangs deep into it. And that cricket, why, he twitched for the last time and then turned white and sort of crumpled in upon himself.

Now, me, I’d seen it a hundred times or more, but Dwayne the Security Guard and Marty the Residentially-Disadvantaged Cripple, they were most mesmerized by the show, so I kept right on talking.

I said, “My own husband! Won’t let me stay with him on account of his homosexual relationship!”

I said, “I tell you, this is yet another prime example of how gay marriage is undermining traditional heterosexual marriage in this country…”

The show was over. Saint Athanasius was finishing off the cricket and I was finishing off my story. I was back to thinking about finding somewhere to take a shower. As it turns out, daily showers are the biggest hurdle to my living permanently in a sort of gypsy state, as a land pirate or such…

As I set Saint Athanasius back in her box and her box back in my backpack, it hit me: “Gyms!”

I said, “All those big law firms have gyms in them. And where there’s gyms, there’s showers! And where there’s showers, there’s a way for me to stop stinking like this…”

Dwayne the Security Guard held the flashlight as we came to a crossroads in the tunnels. “Which one d’ya think, little lady? Haynes & Boone? Baker Botts?”

I chose a direction, sort of randomly, and off we went. Dwayne the Security Guard. Marty the Residentially-Disadvantaged Cripple. And me.

Oh, and Saint Athanasius, too, of course.


  1. Just because you did something bad for your own health and wellbeing, doesn’t mean your spouse should have kicked you out onto the streets. Because it wouldn’t help you much, and instead it would give you more opportunities to do worse things, right?

    She should instead lock you in the house, and constantly remind you how bad you had been and why you must change, so that you two would live happily ever after. Even if you would stubbornly refuse to change, she should still keep on talking to you, urging you to do better. This would show how much she actually loves you, and how she cares about your wellbeing and your happiness in the rest of your life. Isn’t it?

    But it sounded like you don’t really care to change, and you would eventually go back to her and repeat the cycle, time and time again, year after year. Any idea why you would do this? Is it because you two love each other so much and so deeply, despite of knowing each other’s shortcomings? I was once told by the Republicans that girls become lesbians as a lifestyle choice for better sex. Boy were they wrong.

  2. ... and the tarantula factored in... how?

    I've got this really odd thing going on in my head where there's an insect predator land thing, and then a weird domestic thing....

    the comment on homosexuality destroying hetero marriage - PRICELESS.

  3. 5654: I think Dana’s method of handling this factors in a) my need for intermittent personal space; and b) her need to keep some bad stuff away from the kids. It happens, and though I take it seriously, it won’t be forever. If you remember, I mentioned that the Christmas trip to Oklahoma happened right after she took me out of deep freeze.

    Hi, K. Syrah! I carry it with me. Most of the time now. The educated reader will try and find a parallel between the tarantula story and the temporary homelessness story. That search will be in vain, I think. Unless I am seen as that tarantula that is so domesticated that it basically needs the cricket chased into her mouth…

  4. Well, let's see.

    I could go all David Lynch on you, and say, "There were, in point of fact, several people named Saint Anastasius; both in the Eastern and Western church, if memory serves; this could deal with the duality in everyone, as well as the whole temporary-homelessness gig.

    Picturing Saint Anastasius as a spider would be an ideal metaphor for Everyman."

    But I wont.


  5. Hi there, Will. K Syrah has actually proven to be amazingly adept at finding the subconscious meanings behind my blogs. If she can’t find this one, there might not be anything to find. …
    I thought about it after she wrote that, and here’s what I came up with: I am the cricket. The tarantula represents the Big Bad Wild World. Eventually, no matter how domesticated it seems, it will eat me, because that is what it does. …
    But also, I have a tarantula with me. I am going to a tarantula convention in Arizona later this week. That sounds farfetched, but it’s true…
    I think my next trantula will be named Pope Boniface VI. …

  6. In High Concept terms this is William S. Burroughs meets Jody Scott. It especially reminds me of the first third of "Cities of the Red Night" -- which is the good part before he goes and gets all artistic.

  7. This post makes me think of the three of you and your pet as some kind of post apocalyptic nomads.

    Dunno why - think it reminds of a book I might've read, fucked if I can remember what one though.

  8. No big deal. I liked the tarantula story just because it cracked me up, and was kind of an interesting scene in which to tell a story...

    Almost like having people discussing life and philosophy over a game of chess, or while watching some distracting animal race or what have you. I just couldn't figure out the symbolism of the tarantula and cricket with you getting kicked out of your husband's house.

    I suppose the tarantula can be the big-bad, mean standard of marriage that forced you (FORCED YOU, I say, the way the cricket forced the tarantula to eat it :-p ) into a double marriage.

  9. Apuleius Platonicus: Thank you. I loved the first 3rd of "Cities of the Red Night." That's got the private detective trying to track down a kid - whose either lost his head in an orgone box or else joined some pirates. ... This entry didn't feel like that to me until I went back and read it again. Who knew?

    dirtycowgirl: Thank you! The tunnels are basically just a big underground mall for the office crowd. Until 5 o'clock at night when it closes. Then it's pitch black and closed off by huge garage doors...

    K Syrah: You've been really good a couple different times at figuring out why I wrote something - even when I didn't know. I very rarely know...

  10. If it weren't for the 6 hour drive, you would be welcome to shower at my place. I would cook you a nice meal too. Although we are down a shower, an air conditioner and as of this morning, a hot water heater. Where exactly are these tunnels?

    For the record, your anti adbot verifier dealie bob is tough on those of us who have dyslexic tendencies. Trying this again... biazzles... is that when someone bedazzles their ass?

  11. Clearly, Dwayne is the Antichrist, and you should warn your readers! Because Satan represents the tarantula's fang. Black metal music echoes up from Hell through the tunnels, hatching crickets. And, racism is the food chain. Cripples have gypsy blood.

  12. Poor cricket. I mean, seriously, poor thing. It just wanted a little hot interspecies sex and what did it get for its trouble?

    There's some kind of lesson in here. But I don't know what it is.

  13. Vurt. That's the book it made me think of - dunno why though.

  14. Now that poor tarantula is going to have bad luck.

  15. If that's the underground tunnels in Houston, they've sure gone downhill. They were a favorite hangout of my high school sweetheart and I.

  16. Hi, Brent! I have a contact here on Blogger who used to have contests for people to come up with definitions for captcha terms. I think I heard a mid-90’s hip hop song called “Biazzles,” actually. (I don’t think white people are allowed to say that word.)

    Misfits: Yes, I think the important thing here is for everyone to realize how many deep and profound levels are involved in this story. It’s sort of like “Finnegans Wake,” really, only it didn’t take me 17 years to write it…

    Bill the Butcher: Someday, when you are very old, you will think back and you will realize that the secret of life was hidden down inside this little blog somewhere.

  17. dirtycowgirl: Jeff Noon. Haven’t read it. It’s on my list of books I need to read.

    Cal-el: She tends to break a lot of mirrors, too, so… She probably has it coming…

    Cal-el: You mean the picture at the top? Yeah, that’s a little rough and rusty. Plus there are eyes staring at you from under that top step… (The Houston tunnels are probably much like they were before – there’s just a lot more of them. They open up a couple new wings with dozens of new restaurants every year. Gotta give those lawyers more lunch choices…)

  18. Aye. So true.

    Fun for some to complicate a cup of tea.

  19. This story made me miss my tarantulas; Angus and Sexy. It also made me realize how much I love your writing and it makes me think more deeply than I normally do.....hit the deep end of the pool, if you will. Love it Katy.

  20. Misfits: It's possible to overthink anything at all. For instance: do the first letter of all the paragraphs in my last 4 blog entries, when rearranged, spell out a secret message?

    Hi, Sugar Free! Glad you like. I'll make more... I am largely MIA from the net this week because I'm at a tarantula conference in Arizona.

  21. How did the spider convention go?

  22. 5464: Extra tarantuly. With an extra helping of rattlesnake, somewhat unexpectedly. I will file a complete report.

  23. That's over-doing. Already runtime errors in Visual Basic...C

  24. Misfits: I think what I might like the best about Blogger comments - other than the excitement of seeing whether it's going to let me post a comment at all - is trying to follow a conversation thread through the line of comments.

  25. Anyone who not only has a pet tarantula, but names it St. Anastasius is three kinds of alright in my book.

  26. A Beer for the Shower: After last weeke's trip to Arizona, I have additions to my tarantula family.
    Still unnamed!
    So many questionable religious figures to choose from...

    (Sugar Free, I presume): It's a little disappointing to know that anyone can purport to be anyone else - from whatever website - that they wish on here.
    I say disappointing because it makes me suspect that all those famous people commenting on my blog were not who they said they were.
    Which, in turn, explains why Patti Smith stood me up for our date...

  27. For some reason, I thought "no way is it going to let me do this. Crazy fucking web technology will soooo no I'm not Katy. It knows every-other-fucking-thing."

    The reason I thought this was because I recently (in the midst of my commenting woes) tried to comment on a blog with my [[super new and awesome]] Wordpress login, which is an option, yes? Guess what I was met with? "You don't own this name"

    Da fuck?

    And Katy, it was MY famousness this whole time. I would never allow anyone else to comment as me using my awesome famous credentials.

    Cheers, girl!

  28. Sugar Free: The upside is that I have an out now when I post a braindead comment while drunk in the middle of the night. It was simply someone else posting as me.

  29. @KatyDid "I say disappointing because it makes me suspect that all those famous people commenting on my blog were not who they said they were.
    Which, in turn, explains why Patti Smith stood me up for our date..."

    That explains a lot.

  30. Good to see you around, Cal. How ya been? Why don't you use Blogger more?

  31. I've been pretty good. I'm trying to get adjusted to the new pain meds which make me pretty dizzy. I guess you could call it a legal high. I just don't like it making it difficult to think properly. How have you been?

    I come by blogger every day to every other day. I post from Multiply, though, so it will send out to other sites. I don't know if blogger has that capability. Does it?

  32. I felt like you should know that that Justin kid from aclosetliberal has no problem guessing girls' passwords on facebook and myspace so he can do stalking himself. so theres my motivation.

  33. @Cal-el: Pain meds... yum... I'd be in trouble if I ever had them prescribed. I can't even be in the same building as pain meds...
    I don't know what all blogger can do, honestly. I know I'm not using it to its full potential.

    @Anonymous: I see. Not a nice guy? I don't know him. His blog entertains.

  34. Tarantulas>husbands

    also you should get rid of captcha, it's annoying

  35. @gman: Hell yeah. Tarantulas are much less trouble than people in general.
    I can't stand the captcha thing. Haven't had one comment in Russian since I added it, but since I'm moderating all the comments anyway, I probably don't need it...

  36. whatever you ingested to write this was jusstt right. yum. Nice writing, more great line than I could shake a stick at. And.. I'm very glad that K. Syrah is fullfilling the role of subconscious meaning hunter, it's a dirty job. But, like you, I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not a job that needs doing. Carry on.

  37. @JerseyDave: Welcome back. Someone probably needs to keep track of what I am doing, because I rarely do… You know, like movies have the guy who stands there and makes sure everyone’s hair remains parted on the same side throughout the different takes.
    Where the hell are the events in this blog supposed to be taking place? Pittsburgh?

  38. For me all evvents take place in Jersey. Is there someplace else in the world?

  39. @JerseyDave: Hey… Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Chris Christie, Frank Sinatra, that MTV show… Why would you need anywhere else?
    [Cue Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl”…]


Hey you! Why not leave a comment to tell me what you think of what I wrote?