Good morning, weekend warriors. Happy Monday. This morning calls for a modest, quiet celebration as my on-call shift ends in only a few hours from now. As of 11 AM today, if a server somewhere in our infrastructure bursts into flames it is officially not my problem. At least not my immediate problem.
Cloudy with light winds. Temperatures hovering around forty degrees. It’s the perfect day to crack a window in our bedroom and hide out all day with a pitcher of coffee.
Sip. I already miss the weekend. We had a great time over the past few days seeing some friends, eating good food, and running some errands. Yesterday morning after we finished church, I took Spider-man with me to Hy-Vee. I don’t think it’s possible to oversell how excited the bored shoppers are to see Rodney running around in his Spider-man suit, especially the old people. Rodney is practically a celebrity. People love calling out HEY SPIDER-MAN! as he passes. One lady even made a point to cross the entire produce section just to inform me that she had been “zapped” with a web, and that it was a great honor to be singled out.
Rodney also brings his rubber tarantula with him on these little errands. That part of his ensemble isn’t really canon, but he just happens to be really into spider-man and real spiders at this time in his life. It’s a whole spider theme right now.
Rodney and I brought back an exciting bounty. Fruit snacks. Plump strawberries. Fresh Herbs. Crisp cabbage. Perfectly symmetrical purple shaded cloves of garlic. For how often I rag on Hy-Vee for missing the mark, I wouldn’t dare miss the chance to commend them for being in top form yesterday. Everyone was in a good mood. The store was clean and well-stocked. All their produce was uncharacteristically beautiful. Hy-Vee got an A+ yesterday.
We put the groceries away, and I got right to making lunch. Since I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon recently with making homemade bread, I picked up a loaf of roasted garlic sourdough from the Hy-Vee bakery. For myself, I loaded up a sandwich with corned beef, sharp cheddar, dijon mustard, mayo, and a cabbage and shallot salad tossed in dressing. Marissa got a more regular special: turkey and swiss. Have you ever eaten a sandwich that made you tear up a little?
Shifting gears to make Rodney’s typical peanut butter and jelly, I saw the terrible oversight I made. He would have to enjoy his favorite sandwich on roasted garlic flavored sourdough. Peanut butter, jelly, and roasted garlic. Would those flavors make for a clashing, offensive combination? Thankfully, the culinary blunder went undetected.
Our second trip yesterday was the pet store. We put Ollie and Ziggy away in their crates and took Minnie to Pet World to pick out her own special toy. Flanked by her family (as always, one of her brothers dressed like Spider-man from the neck down), we strode through the automatic sliding doors into Pet World. Minnie put on a brave face, but her body began to tremble.
“She’s kind of shy,” Marissa remarked with amusement. “We’ve never had a shy dog before. This is new.”
We took baby steps around the store. Marissa let Minnie sniff places of interest, but for the most part she just carried her underneath her arm. Rodney led the way into the back hallway where the reptiles were kept. We correctly guessed that he wanted to see one of the tarantulas up close, as did I. Marissa wandered away to find an employee to unlock the case for us.
“Excuse me,” she asked with Minnie still cradled on her arm. “Would you mind showing us the spiders?”
“I’m arachnaphobic,” said the employee nervously.
“That’s OK,” Marissa replied sweetly. “We’ll just go ask the front.”
We asked the front desk if somebody could take out the spiders. “Our regular spider guy isn’t working today,” said the girl hesitantly. “I’m afraid of spiders too.” Several other employees approached the desk to help. They were all afraid of spiders too.
Finally, one of the employees mustered up the courage to open the case. The small tarantulas were kept in sealed plastic deli cups. Rodney and I studied the cups while Marissa watched from a cautious distance.
“I’m almost more scared of the smaller ones,” said Marissa.
“I agree,” I said. “The big ones are a bit intimidating, but at least you can keep an eye on them.” I turned to the employee who had helped us. “The curly hair one, how big does that one get?”
“I have no idea,” replied the girl holding the key to the lockbox. She also looked a little nervous.
“Right,” I sighed. “Your spider guy isn’t working.”
The encounter planted a seed with me and Rodney. We found ourselves watching a tarantula home car video later that evening. We learned that the curly hair tarantulas are known for being calm and docile. Their big black fangs are exclusive for eating prey, but in a worst case scenario their venom is on par with a bee sting. When they feel threatened, they just flick these irritating hairs off their back legs. They only need a little water bowl and a hand-fed worm or cricket once a week.
We circled the store and finally made it to the dog toys. Marissa deployed Minnie to the cold tile floor. We all did are part squeezing and shaking the toys on the rack, looking for a viable candidate. But Minnie didn’t seem interested in anything. She remained huddled near Marissa’s shoes.
“How about this cheeseburger,” said Marissa, plucking a small squeaky toy off the wall and rolling it to the floor. Minnie pounced and grabbed it in her tiny mouth. She squeaked it in her jaws, then dropped it to the floor and retreated into Marissa’s shoes as if she was embarrassed by her own outburst of enthusiasm. We all cracked a smile.
“It’s… three dollars,” chuckled Marissa reading the price tag. For as sweet as Minnie is, she’s also a very cheap date.
Exhausted from her big day at the pet store, Minnie would spend the rest of the evening in and out of deep puppy naps. Of course, she curled up with her special tiny cheese burger. Each time Marissa and I crept by we quietly sang the relevant Veggie Tales classic:
You are his cheeseburger, his yummy cheeseburger. He’ll wait for you-ooo, yeah, he’ll wait for you-ooo, oh…
Have a great Monday, everyone.
Before I go, I’d like to circle back to Pet World. It’s one thing to be afraid of spiders - to have a real arachnaphobic condition that you can’t control. But a pet store where everyone is afraid of spiders? Ridiculous. Pet World, maybe you should have more than just one spider guy on hand. Not to mention, it’s not like we wanted to take a spider out on the floor and roll around with it. My spider obsessed son just wanted to see one of the little sealed deli cups up close. Pet World, hire some more spider people you chumps!