(Derek, Moi, Diana and Gary and Billy looking a bit haggard for having posted over thirty five story entries with plenty more in the male pooch–I mean mail pouch!)
Good evening once again from the towers that are A Word with You Press in downtown Moscow!
Jean Rodenbough makes a second appearance here in The First Annual Peggy Dodds Write-of-Passage Contest. But I must warn you: if you have fear of breaking out in pimple read no further. Our acnephobia is a terrible condition, but fortunately, our author has
by Jean Rodenbough
Yesterday was a watershed moment for me. It marked an anniversary of sobriety of 27 years, if you don’t count one slip-up at a party one time when the punch was spiked unannounced by the host. But that’s another story.
The major reason I stopped drinking wasn’t because it was bad for my health, or that I had become obnoxious or ended up frequently in jail for public drunkenness. It was because of spiders.
Spiders, you say? Well, these were unusual spiders, that originally came here from South America, in Roger’s briefcase.
Roger was an old boyfriend whose job took him to many exotic sites. One time he called me from the Arctic Circle to propose to me, but that story has little to do with spiders.
Roger was very tall and very slim. We were a couple whose identity rested in our contrasts. I was short, fat, and talkative. Roger might say a few words once in awhile, but mostly he just sat and stared at whatever was before him. One time it was my pet skunk, Skippy, who had been de-odorized. He and Skippy stared at each other, actually, neither making a sound. Just as Roger stood up to get a glass of water, Skippy lunged at him and bit him on his ankle. He let go pretty fast, because ankles don’t ordinarily have much flesh to grab onto, and Roger swung his foot back preparing to give Skippy a big kick. That’s when I threw myself in front of Skippy to protect him and . . . but that’s actually another story.
The reason I stopped drinking alcohol, as I said, was because of spiders. Big ones. They slipped out of Roger’s briefcase when he got in the car as I picked him up from the airport. He had been at a conference somewhere South of the Border, as they say. Well, I saw one of the spiders as I was turning onto the freeway ramp from the airport and screamed and Roger grabbed the steering wheel just before it went into the grassy bank beside the highway ramp. But that’s not the story I want to tell.
Anyway, Roger pushed the spiders, about six or seven of them, back in his briefcase and closed it before they could escape.
Well, we got to my house and I invited Roger in for lunch before he went home to his apartment. He carried his bags in with him and fixed drinks for both of us to celebrate his homecoming. Just as we were about to toast the event, I saw it. The spider. It was a big guy, about 8 inches wide if you count the legs. It was kind of wandering around, and then made a leap. Right into my glass of bourbon and water. It seemed to like being in the tumbler, and started swimming around in it while I watched, hypnotized, and Roger started laughing. I got mad and dropped the glass with the big spider in it. It crawled out and ran up Roger’s pants leg. I decided to start all over again with a fresh glass of bourbon, but when I tasted it, the taste was like spider, and I poured it out. Haven’t had a drink since. Haven’t seen Roger either, since the spider ran up his pants leg, that is. But that’s another story.
While I’m telling stories about Roger and me, I’ll have to include the one about our trip to the Far East, before the spider adventure. We went first to Beijing, where everybody speaks a different language from ours. Their alphabet is different, too; kind of like in cartoons.
When we got off the plane there at the airport, we handed a taxi driver the piece of paper with the name of our hotel on it. I don’t remember the name of it right now, but it was one of those really classy international hotels with huge lobbies, lots of hotel people around and we were lucky to find a few who spoke better English than we did. But that’s not the story I want to tell about China. It’s about the birds.
When the evening was warm enough, we saw people out walking their pet dogs, but also their birds! They were being carried in their cages, with the idea that birds need fresh air just like other pets do. They were mostly canaries and parakeets, and they chirped along as if they were greeting the passers-by. We were fascinated.
Well, we stopped at a nice restaurant for dinner, and Roger ordered drinks for us, some kind of rice wine. I’m telling you, I never drank such stuff. First of all, it came in little teeny glasses, and it was gone in a swallow. So we kept ordering more of them little teeny glasses of rice wine, and all of a sudden we knew we couldn’t stand up. We couldn’t even read the menu with the English translations for all the dishes. It was all a blur. We did have enough sense to know it was time to leave and so we didn’t even order food. We just left, got a taxi to our hotel and somehow got to our room and crashed. Don’t ever offer me anything to drink in a teeny little glass because I’m liable to get sick right in front of you. But that wasn’t the story I was going to tell, the one about birds, that is. The only problem is I don’t remember the details. And I don’t know where Roger went after he left me. So I guess that’s a story that will have to wait. It is a wonderful memory, but if I don’t find Roger, there’s no story. So I’ll bide my time till I run into Roger again. I know he will remember what I forget. Lucky me. I swear, it’s not too late to find him and get that story!