To those who say the best kind of fun can only occur spontaneously, I see your healthy, positive attitude toward life and raise you heavy skepticism. If I didn’t spend my summer scheduling myself a good time, I’d have never left my room since school let out and would’ve resorted to blogging about my slow death by Cat’s dander. (While respiratory problems also await outside comfort zones, I’m assuming there are at least more interesting options in open environments.)
For the Fourth of July, as planned, some friends and I attended the city-wide celebration, which boasted deep-fried food, patriotism ranging from reluctant to obnoxious, and a name as American as anyone could hope for, Freedom Fest.
Since most of us had been to Freedom Fest in years prior and we’d already gorged ourselves on barbecue at someone’s house, the experience essentially just consisted of us alternating between walking and sitting as we waited for fireworks. Fifteen minutes after the sky began to crackle and the music started—how, I wondered, had people managed firework displays before Katy Perry—we made our trek back to the car.
On our way, we traipsed, in the dusk, through a vast field of tall grass. As I was remarking to my friends that surely this must be someone’s aesthetic, I felt a sharp sting on the back of my left ankle. The feeling that I was being stabbed by a particularly vindictive Night at the Museum miniature recurred with every step. I dismissed the pain as that of some bur that’d made its way into my high-top Converse.
In the car, I folded down the opening of my shoe to find a bump the size of a quarter, its redness prominent against my ankle. The swelling had a small white center, presumably where I’d been bitten. I’d gotten similar spider bites before, so I didn’t think much of the bump and expected it to be gone by tomorrow.
I woke up in the morning scratching my ankle with the vigor of a frenzied suburban mom tearing at the last Black Friday plasma TV. The bump, now a nasty violet, had doubled in size. The center was a dark red, almost black. Standing up stretched the ankle and sent pulses of pain up my calf. In a remarkable show of restraint, I instead began scratching around the wound to frame the wound nicely.
I turned to the Internet. Obviously, I didn’t use WebMD. Enough people have advised me against the site, and I know better. Instead, I visited other sites above and below it to get medical diagnoses from similar unlicensed professionals.
While I didn’t have any worrisome symptoms, such as nausea and difficulty breathing, and thus felt secure enough that I’d live at least another day, I couldn’t get over how purple the wound was. I smothered the bump in a clear antibiotic gel, making the wound look like a humongous blister and probably much worse than it should’ve, had I just left the thing alone from the beginning.
Mom pulled out her trustworthy bottle of unlabeled disinfectant, and I shuddered at the less-than-pleasant memories. Many years ago, after I tripped in a parking lot and badly scraped my knee, day care adults brought me indoors and telephoned Mom to pick me up early. I sat in silence until her arrival, upon which I started crying like a true sociopath. (Or psychopath. I can never remember the difference and usually, in everyday conversation, just let people assume I do.) Then she started disinfecting my knee, and the subsequent tears I no longer had to force.
Mom: *conversationally* You know, there was a guy who had a minor scratch and let it get out of control without disinfecting it.
Me: And then what?
Mom: And then he died.
Treating that wound from years ago had been painful, but it’d also been so long that I couldn’t tell whether that was because young Nicole was a wimp or the disinfectant actually hurt.
Turns out the answer is both. I winced and tried to knead the wound’s edges. Cat leaped onto the couch, needlessly inserting herself into the situation as usual, and sniffed. I wondered if she was trying to get high and made a note to grow her some catnip.
A day later, the wound looked neither better nor worse, but at least I was reasonably sure I hadn’t fallen victim to one of those freaky parasites that hijack your brain.
Mom: How did a spider bite you if you were wearing high-top shoes, anyway?
Me: It got as far as my ankle before the violent force of my walking repeatedly smashed it against the inside of the shoe.
Mom: Well, then, you can’t blame it, can you? It thought it was going to die.
I realized I, uncharacteristically, hadn’t blamed the spider once throughout this experience. It had never even crossed my mind that the spider could be at fault, even as I recognized the bite would leave me with a temporary limp. The spider had felt cornered, and placed in that situation, it did only what it knew to do.
The more I thought about it, the guiltier I felt. Having to briefly endure a swollen ankle was at most an inconvenience incomparable to the sordid demise by foot pulverization. The spider’s bite was a hero’s last stand against the cold indifference of the universe.
So, Spider, here’s to you. I know you won’t see this even on the off chance you escaped from the crushing force of my ankle, but it’s not like most people post appreciation pictures of their pets or parents on social media because they expect their posts to be seen. Either way, you had a good run. Rest in pieces.
I realized my posts keep getting weirder and weirder, a trend that’s probably going to continue into the forseeable future. Anyhow, please like my Facebook page for posts and updates on life in between!
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