American Dream

My dog spider

I only ever wanted two things out of life when I was young.

The first was I wanted to grow up to be an irredeemable slob married to a woman of superior intelligence, wisdom, earning-potential and physical beauty, so inexplicably contrasting with my own qualities that people seeing us together in public would marvel, saying to one another “He must have a lot of money” by way of justification of this mystifying arrangement. In retrospect, my desire was not an overly ambitious one, considering that by the age of five, I was already considered by most experts on the matter to be a child prodigy in the “irredeemable slob” category. I was that much closer to attaining the American Dream.

The author (left) enjoying a visit with a family of domesticated Okies on display at the Monmouth County Fair Grooming Stables in Red Bank, New Jersey, 1979. The author exhibited from a young age a preternatural instinct for becoming a slob.

The stunned, even offended expressions of our wedding guests as Jacquie and I marched to the altar that infamous day in 2007 only confirmed my sense of pride and masculine achievement. Perhaps the prospect of such a match was revolting to our friends and relatives who saw it as a defilement of nature. How could anyone argue with that? But nobody that day would even dare try to come between me and my happiness.

And I was happy. For a while. Then I became depressed, a contributing factor to which was the realization that though I was married to someone who smelled better than me, had more money in her pocket, knew her way around dental floss and could fill out a tax form, whereas I was limited to signing my name with an X (drawn in crayon), there was still that other thing missing from my life. I felt its absence sorely.

I did not have a devoted pet, the kind of animal I imagined when I was 11 I would eventually have by the time I was an adult: a furry thing that would wait by the door every night for me to come home from my job sorting the discount sex-toy bin at a local adult-emporium. But that was just a childhood fantasy. The reality is, I don’t have my dream-job sorting the discount sex-toy bin at the local adult emporium. Nor do I have anything more companionable in my life than my cat, Sunny, an orange miscreant with a bad attitude, a short temper and shiv-like claws with which to kill and maim.

My bad luck seemed to have finally changed recently. A winter storm had caused a power outage in Mt. Eden.  The house was dark when I came home from work. I was instantly surprised to feel something furry nuzzling my leg. I thought I’d finally gotten that pet dog I always wanted. I couldn’t see him very well in the candle-light, but he was real friendly and we played for a long time. I kept throwing things and he kept bringing them back.

Woof, woof, woof, woof.

Come on boy. That's it. Come to daddy. Who wants to go for a walk? You do. Oh yes you do.

Wait a minute. Something's not right here

Apparently, my dog was really a Black House Spider (Badumna insignis). What I thought was playful cavorting was actually its attempted insemination of my leg using its palps. And what I thought was me having fun and enjoying myself turned out to actually be excruciatingly painful swellings, nausea, vomiting, sweating, giddiness and skin lesions from multiple venomous fang marks.