Tag Archives: somewhat funny stories

Scares of a Summer Evening

Today was the final day of my internship, which means I’m back to a normal work schedule next week. (I expect my Middlemarch progress to increase significantly now [cough].) I even took time to go to the grocery store last night, so I had something to cook in my fridge when I got home tonight.  With such sanguine expectations, what else could be hovering in the wings at stage left but drama?

We interrupt this post to bring you the post’s sole piece of visual interest, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this story, but which is one of my favorite things.

I am terribly afraid of spiders. I can’t help it. All of the things people who aren’t afraid of spiders say to people like me who are afraid of spiders make no difference whatsoever. They might ask, “What do you think the spider will do to you?” Well, honestly, I don’t have any idea. And I don’t think it’s fair to expect logic from me in these circumstances. All I know is that when I see one, buzzing begins in my brain and my heart starts to race and the only coherent thought to be mustered is it must die, which, after a tense staring contest (me versus the menace), is followed by a pep talk to myself (if there is no one else to do battle for me) to be a grown up and deal with it.

In June, I drove home from work one day, and pulling into the garage with my sunglasses on, and just above where I was storing my winter tires I saw a giant spider. I’m not exaggerating when I assure you that the body of that spider was larger than a quarter, not counting the legs. Dealing with that spider was an ordeal that involved first desperately calling my mother for moral support, backing my car out of the garage again (I had to have room to run in case of attack failure, and also as much light as possible from the open garage door), and a standoff that felt like 30 seconds which was probably more like five, until the giant spider started move (quickly) and I screwed my courage to the sticking place and launched my attack, face distorted for extra bravado. Suffice it to say attack number one was unsuccessful – tires had to be toppled – and eventually, it died.

So, in July, my father, who is one of my favorite people in the whole entire world despite his audacious suggestion that I try immersion therapy for my spider fear (he’s been known to rubber-band plastic bags around the ends of vacuum hoses, “just in case”, so it was a pot-kettle situation to begin with), came and swept out my garage for me. And sprayed Raid all the way around the inside edges of the garage, and the garage door. (Thanks, Dad! I love you!)

And it’s mostly been great since then. I suspect that the garage-sweeping exercise resulted in dislodging some from their habitats, as I had the misfortune to reach into my purse the next weekend and suddenly discover that a spider was ON MY HAND (but it was small and its death was swift).

Tonight after retrieving the mail, I was headed into my apartment and chanced to glance down toward the corner of the garage to find a mid-size spider. Too large for me to deal with while things were in my hands, so I dashed upstairs, divested myself of the things, grabbed a stiff shoe, and went back downstairs.

I think I really need to work on my aim. Smacking at the wall with my stiff shoe, I missed, or it darted out of the way too quickly – who can say for certain? – and it sandwiched itself in the crevice between the wall and the garage floor and I thought to myself, RAID!

But as soon as I picked it up, I had doubts. The Raid was too light. I gave it a shake and could hear a little left in the bottle, so I returned to the scene of battle to discover that, when the button was depressed, the “steady line of spray” for which this specific bottle of Raid was purchased was nothing more than spits of drops falling only inches away. So I held it as close as I dared to the crevice, and as I did my best to apply the random drops evenly, I saw another spider – a smaller one – scurrying. (In hindsight it occurred to me that perhaps mid-size spider was hunting the smaller spider – or the other way around – but I remain remorseless.)

I have no idea whether this final line of defense (as I refuse to sit and wait for them to come out of the crevice) was successful. But the moral to today’s story is, if you’re using someone’s Raid and you almost use up the entire bottle, you should really let them know, so that they can restock before it is too late.

And thanks again Dad! You’re the best-est of the best!

Author’s note: If you did in fact tell me that I needed to buy more Raid, and I just forgot, I blame it entirely on my crazy schedule heretofore this summer and thereby absolve myself of any untoward moralizing.

Tale from a Tired Intern, No. 1

You, my anonymous (or, as seems more likely, not-so-anonymous) reader(s), will remember that I’m in graduate school. This summer, I’m doing an internship in an academic library. This is in addition to working full-time, and lest at any time in the future excessive tiredness should overwhelm my capacity to express gratitude, let me say now that I am very grateful to my employers for letting me work an alternative schedule during the seven or so weeks of my internship. I am also very grateful to my internship hosts for the opportunity to gain some real library experience.

This alternative schedule means that, Monday through Thursday, I’m working – either at work or my internship – from about 7 in the morning to 7 at night. Friday I spend a regular day at work, and then I spend Sunday afternoons at my internship again. So, needless to say, I’m pretty tired. In fact, I’m amazed that I’m still awake right now.

The biggest project that I’m working on for my internship involves sorting through two year’s worth of interlibrary loan request data and ultimately performing some data analysis once I’ve gotten through all that sorting. But the sorting is very tedious work. Up until yesterday, looking at every single line of data in a several hundred thousand line spreadsheet has been an entirely humorless process, and one during which I have debated sticking toothpicks into my eyes to keep them open, if toothpicks were available.

Yesterday, however, I noticed a few of the titles that had been requested through interlibrary loan, and I would have laughed out loud in my dark little room on my not-height-adjustable excruciatingly uncomfortable intern’s chair, but I didn’t have the energy. This photo demonstrates the level of enthusiasm I found myself able to muster outwardly.

Without further ado, the titles requested by users of my academic library:

Teaching Grammar in Context, Human Rights Watch 2004. Now, I suspect that this is one of the many data errors in the data I’m looking at, but I still found it funny, if it were true, that a human rights organization would be the publisher of a work about teaching grammar in context. It’s funny, right? In my head the humor is entirely bound up in the idea of grammar being pristine and inviolable, and my sense of people in general viewing their abuse of grammar as a basic human right. Ha ha ha!!!

The Ethics of Star Trek. I’m hoping there was an analogy they were making somewhere.

The Ultimate Verbal and Vocabulary Builder. Last time I checked, verbs were vocabulary, too. Does using two words that mean essentially the same thing count as building one’s vocabulary?

And now, my personal favorite:

How to Write A Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Oh, there’s just so much that could be said about this title. For instance, are we sure that “a lot” is really the best descriptive term with which to title a work about academic writing? Then, there’s the obvious question about whether any academic writing is productive. But put those two things together, and it’s been my experience that having as a goal to write “a lot” does not lead to “productive” writing, unless you measure productivity by quantity of words, rather than quality, or by the overall work’s ability to stand the test of time. I’m just saying. Maybe they could have spent a lot more time on that title.

The Two-for-One Deal and the Single Girl

I’ve always felt that the bouquet toss at weddings was one of the biggest foes of the single girl: the bride’s little joke on her still-single friends. Please line up, and, if you’re not too humiliated to act eager, elbow your way to prime bouquet-catching real estate while I launch this probably-going-to-fall-apart-midair projectile blindly over my head backwards.

But last night, I discovered another, perhaps greater, foe of the single girl: the two-for-one deal.

Yesterday evening I had to go to Costco. Foolishly, I went while hungry. In a moment of weakness – no, let me stress, hungry weakness, which made the idea of stopping at a more appropriately-sized grocery store in addition to Costco out of the question – I passed through the bakery in search of some bread-like foodstuffs to eat with my dinner d’jour (tomato soup) and picked up a bag of bagels and a small thing of muffins. (Don’t judge; it’s just been one of those weeks.)

I like to go to Costco on weeknights because it’s usually much less busy than on a weekend. For whatever reason, though, everyone was apparently trying to check out at the same time last night. So my line choice was based entirely on minimizing line length and maximizing the distance between me and the large man who was yelling aggressively at his little boy.

It so happens that I’m in the cute checker’s line, the chatty one with the cool glasses. I’ve been in his line before. He was super chatty then, too, and since he’s cute, that’s kind of a problem for me. Because, irritatingly, I still blush like a twelve-year-old when a cute guy talks to me. Or when I’m embarrassed. Or when I’ve been startled by something silly. Cute Glasses Checker starts the check-out process, and inevitably the first things he scans are the muffins and the bagels.

“Hey Stace, what did you want to do for your second one for both of these?” he says.

I look at him blankly. Did he really just call me Stace? I put together that he’s read my name on my Costco card and automatically shortened it to the too-familiar-for-strangers-and-checkers-to-use Stace.

“You did know these were two for the price of one, right?”

I did. Blushing begins.

“Well, I was kind of hoping we could just skip the second one. I won’t go through that much food.” This is what I get for ignoring my healthy-eating-conscience and putting that many calories in my cart.

“Isn’t there anyone you can share them with?” he says. I blush deeper. “Mom? Dad? Friends? Boyfriend?” I’m shaking my head to all of these questions, although I am neither an orphan, nor friendless; but my parents don’t live in the same city, and I’m not good enough friends with anyone where I live to randomly show up at their door with Costco food, which is how his scenario was playing in my mind. And, obviously, no boyfriend. My face is starting to feel really hot at this point.

“You do know you’re paying for both of them, right?” he says. I nod; although, in hindsight – if the deal is two for the price of one, technically, one of them is free, right? So if I choose not to take advantage of the free food which I will not use and which I do not want to take, I’m not actually paying more for the single item than I would without the deal. Right? That very clever logical argument did not occur to me last night.

“They freeze really well!” he says.

“My freezer is really small.” And it is. I live in an apartment with a standard, minuscule freezer, which is already at a fullness that requires excavation and juggling prior to extraction.

“There’s really no one you can share them with? You know, you could just give them out to bums.”

And now I’m annoyed. Just let me leave with my guilt and my muffins already! “What a good idea!” I say. “I’ll remember that for next time.”

Except next time, I’m definitely avoiding his line.