Thursday, August 12 2021

rodney's story, facebook marketplace, handling a tarantula



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. How is your Thursday going so far? Our house feels quiet today. For a while, Minnie joined me downstairs before heading back up to bed, and I crossed paths with a very sleepy Rodney when he left his room to take a leak. Now it's just me again in the dining room, and I just noticed that I can't even mention the gurgling noise of the fishtank anymore. The new water box Marissa moved the fish into barely even makes a sound, and if we're being honest I kind of miss the gentle gurgling. Maybe we can set up a pump in a hidden glass of water to simulate the effect.

Sip. So happy Thursday everyone. I hope you're having a good week thus far. It was nice to return to work yesterday, but I really surprised myself with how little I remembered. Throughout the day I kept forgetting the names to things. I would launch into what I hoped would be an intelligent question only to resort to saying things like "that thing Jon was excited about" or "Janak's thing". Maybe it's the newness of the team, or the dog days of summer, or I'm just getting older and taking more time to readjust to things.

Still, it was easy to stay busy. I had slacks, emails, and meetings to ensure the workday would fly right by. I capped off the day with a short sync-up with our formerly interning, recently hired Connor. Recognizing his voice, Rodney stood at his doorway with curiosity.

"Want to come say 'hi', dude?" I suggested. Rodney quickly darted across the hall and joined me at the computer.

"Is it really hot there or something?" asked Connor.

"No, lately Rodney just likes to wear his underwear around the house," I laughed.

Rodney leaned into the camera and flashed a smile, pointing at the hole in his mouth. He launched into the story of how he lost a tooth.

"I was eating a cheese sandwich," Rodney began. "It was me and Miles and Dada - Momma was at 'gility. Then I heard a snap."

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing Rodney caught up in his missing tooth story. He gesticulates with his hands and creates suspense with pauses. He adds new variations, most recently the part about him hearing a snap in his mouth. He's taken something new and scary and turned it into a story that he loves to share.

Meanwhile, Marissa is beginning to form a beautiful relationship with Facebook marketplace. "I listed something after dinner and I had fifty messages before we went up to bed," she reported. Even though Facebook Marketplace baffles me as to how it became so popular, I can't deny the shear speed, efficiency, and early success we've had.

"I'm going to sell everything," proclaimed Marissa.

More power to her. We plan on moving next spring, and everything about the process feels so daunting. At this moment, the only thing I can wrap my head around is selling, donating, and discarding. I feel a great material purge on the horizion.

In other news, we had another big milestone over my break. For the first time in my life, I handled a tarantula.

It was late at night, and I had just finished my Duolingo Dutch lesson on my phone. Before heading back downstairs, I peeked in on the spiders and noticed that Spidey's water dish was a little dirty. I took his acrylic box over to my desk and popped the lid. Spidey flopped out of his burrow, following me with his beady, unblinking eyes. Something about his body language felt friendly and adventurous.

I grabbed a paint bush. I gently brushed the back of his legs and body. He walked slowly away - a successful temperament test! I peaked around the corner and called Marissa over.

"Hey can you help me with something?" I asked. "I'm going to try to handle Spidey."

Marissa flanked me holding a small plastic cup in one hand and a rolling camera phone in the other. I gently pushed Spidey around his enclosure with a brush, trying to get him to climb up the wall.

"He really doesn't want to come out," I laughed.

But we were already committed. The camera was rolling, and we had come too far to give up. I gave him one last confident nudge, and Spidey reluctantly climbed on top of his burrow. He took a step off the edge and onto my hand. Marissa held he breath as Spidey slowly planted all eight of his legs onto my skin.

Then he took off. Spidey sprinted up my arm. I dropped the paint brush, quickly catching him with my other hand. Marissa closed in with the plastic cup.

"Not yet," I said. "He's going to settle down."

He didn't settle down. Spidey kept sprinting up my arm as I hurriedly formed a never-ending path with my hands. He began to zig-zag around my wrist and elbow.

"OK, get the cup," I sighed.

Spidey threw himself into he corner of the plastic cup. Marissa gently dumped him back into his enclosure, and he bolted for the safety of his burrow. We sat there in silence, letting the excitement and shock sink in. My hands were trembling from the adrenaline.

"That got a little dicey there," I laughed nervously.

I wanted to believe that Spidey did OK, but the video footage made it painfully clear that Spidey was scared for his life. In fact the video makes me so embarrassed that I'm not even going to share it. Besides, the topic of handling tarantulas rubs a lot of passionate hobbyists the wrong way. No matter how we might project onto these little animals, the plain truth is that they just tolerate handling. They don't get anything from human contact. But having successfully cared for Spidey, Karta, and Glassy for this long, I felt like I earned the right to try it once.

Mercifully, tarantulas have no memory. After some alone time, the trauma of our first encounter disappeared, and Spidey was back to his silly, outgoing, contended self. Spiritually, Spidey is like an older sibling to the others. His confidence and hardiness has doomed him to experience new things before the other two. Spidey was the first out of the box, the first to eat, the first to be relocated, and most recently the first to be handled.

"What did he feel like?" asked Marissa.

"Nothing," I laughed. "I could barely feel him. Just like a tickle or a brush. Did you know that was technically my first time holding a tarantula?"

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Thursday everyone.