The Spider, The Midlife Crisis and the Yummy Mummy Next Door

Here’s the thing about travelling around the world for a dozen years, when you get back home you think everything will be the same – including yourself. That’s what happened to me anyhow. I returned to Australia with $200 in my pocket, still gagging on the shitty taste of a nasty divorce. Like there’s such a thing as a nice, fruit scented one. Actually, as far as divorces go, mine wasn’t bad. I woke up one morning about three months after the ceremony and she was gone.

Three months! Have I forgiven her, you may ask. And I would answer that I would rather nail my testicles to a crashing aeroplane.

Anyhow, back to Australia after a thirty-two hour flight in the same suit I wore to my going away party the night before I left Sweden (or was that two nights?). I smelt like the armpits of a thousand camels, about two hundred beers and forty thousand cigarette butts. I had a shower, changed my clothes and had a nervous breakdown. Then I moved in with my brother – the lucky bugger. Paul is about a decade younger than I am and has always been about forty degrees cooler. If I was going to have a midlife crisis and recapture lost youth, this is the dude who was going to get me there.

So, trusting Paul’s professional advice, we bleached my hair white and put so much gel in it, I could have scratched glass with my head. Did I look cool? As fuck! The photos lie.

Paul had a big bastard bull terrier with a head the size and shape of an esky. A rescue dog, he had more neurological problems than I did, and that’s really saying something. He was also annoyingly affectionate. His tongue was deadly accurate and quick it could go so far up your nose and so fast that he could hit your frontal lobe three times a second.  And don’t get me started on the saliva – it had the texture of KY gel and you found yourself sneezing the slime from the Alien movies for hours afterwards. Tasted like dog biscuits.

He also shit all over the back yard. Paul and I weren’t real big on house keeping and yard keeping to us was for the crazy folk with lawn mowers, whipper snippers and Bermuda shorts. Our back yard looked an Amazonian rain forest that neatly concealed the dog shit land mines scattered around the clothesline. And that is exactly where the crux of this long-winded tale takes place.

So, picture the scene if you dare. My hair is white and gelled straight up and I look cool (alright, I looked an absolute albino tit). I have chosen an appropriately cool shirt to go with said hairdo. From the waist down I am sans pants other than boxers due to them being on the clothesline in the middle of the Jungle Of All Things Awful. I tiptoe across the lawn barefoot (can you see where this is going?), delicately calculating each footfall like Indiana Jones crossing that breakaway floor in the Last Crusade. “Jehovah starts with an ‘I’.” Gently, gently… I’m watching my feet here for obvious reasons. I do NOT, under any circumstance, want that soft, fudgy feeling between my toes. Dog shit, to me, is about the most repugnant thing ever. I’m a dad now, and I’ve seen nappies filled as if with three litres of chocolate thickshake, and I still gag at the tiniest whiff of a wet puppy turd.

Gently, gently… there! Hooray – and I walk straight through a massive spider web. Full in the Goddamned face! I froze! Let me tell you what I like about spiders – fucking nothing! And here in Australia, they’re big enough to eat your head. Like a statue, I didn’t know what to do. I’m covered in this web, I mean covered. When I blink, the web pulls in my eyelashes. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… pull yourself together man!

And then my eight-legged little buddy – about the size of my thumb – ran up my cheek!

I did the only thing I could. I cried out like an eight-year-old girl and my arse fainted. I have a few spider stories in which this phenomenon occurs.

I swipe wildly at my face and hop around like a lunatic, miraculously missing every turd in the jungle. This went on for some time, it must be said, until I finally calmed down enough to reassess my situation. I froze once again, waiting in awful anticipation of the damned spawn of Satan to start crawling once again in areas it should never crawl. I move my eyes – nothing. I move my head ever so slightly.

Have I mentioned how big this web was? Well, the majority of it was caught in my ridiculous hair, and the rest ran along the back of my neck. Of course, when I moved my head and dragged the web across the fine hairs I shit myself and had a bloody meltdown. I dragged my shirt over my head and, believing the spider to be within, started smashing it repeatedly to the ground, dog turds be damned. Again and again, emitting all manor of demon exorcising screams. Of course, there was dog shit oozing up between my toes but I was well and freakin’ truly outside my mind by this stage.

And, at the end of it all, I stood red faced, white haired and heaving, wearing nothing but boxers and a crazed look of triumph. Hands in the air I cheered and turned to look…

… straight into the eyes of the yummy mummy next door. She was a gorgeous divorcee with a surfer tan who always made me a little tongue tied when I talked to her. So, what does one do, what does one say after being caught in such a situation? What could I do? I strut! Straight through the jungle and the turds and into the house.

If you’re wondering if it were possible that the spider may have been in my shirt, and I was therefore justified in assaulting it so, let me share the epilogue of this little tale. Once I got to a mirror, through the sweat and tears, I saw that the spider was now a ghastly smear of yellow guts and hairy legs from the corner of my mouth to my ridiculous hairline where I had most likely killed it on the first swipe.

Anthony VercoeComment