Turf Wars: Episode 2 – Lenny, the eight-legged audiophile.

Continued from yesterday. Did you miss Part 1? Go check it out, Lenny and I can wait.

There is an exception to every rule, and as much as I loathed 99.9% of my new house’s octopedal inhabitants, there was one unlikely friend to be found among them. He was a cobweb spider, and his name was Lenny.

Actually I gave him the name Lenny, because I like naming things and he looked like a Lenny, but he never objected so I assumed it was cool with him. Lenny was also in all likelihood a girl, but I had just escaped from ten years of all-female private school hell, and another girl wasn’t really what I needed in my life just then. Lenny, being the pinnacle of understanding, was kind enough to play along for the sake of our friendship.

I was around fifteen or sixteen years old, the approximate age when your opinion of sleep is, “Not if I can help it.” My parents had stopped caring how late I stayed up so long as I didn’t keep them awake, and our walls were thick enough that I could keep my music playing in the computer room and surf the net well into the night without disturbing anyone. It was just me, Winamp, and a screechy dial-up modem, three buddies chillin’ out together in the wee hours.

At least I thought it was just us three.

One night, as the symphonic strings of Tonight, Tonight rang out in all their Pumpkin-Smashing glory, I spied movement in my peripheral vision and immediately defaulted to Level 2 Spider Alert: Potential Unconfirmed Arachnid, which involved hastily pulling my feet up and commencing a whiplash-inducing visual sweep of the area.

My gaze fell on a delicate tangle of fine web at the base of a nearby standing lamp. The lamp base rested on three small brass knobs, lifting it about an inch off the floor and providing not only an ideal place for a spider to hide out beneath, but enough height to build a fairly lengthy thatchwork ramp of silk from the lamp to the floor. And sitting atop this filmy woven hammock, there was Lenny.

Not pictured: Lenny. This is a different cobweb spider, sensibly living outside, that not-so-sensibly decided to build a web on my hand. I’m starting to think cobweb spiders are not quite right in the head.

I relaxed immediately. While I was none too thrilled about his unannounced appearance, Lenny wasn’t a house spider, and that was one big check mark in the “pros” column for Lenny. Lenny also had the decency to acknowledge that I was bigger than him, as the moment I leaned over to take a closer look, he vanished beneath the lamp. This put me slightly less at ease, because the spider you can’t see is the one you irrationally obsess over, but he seemed small and harmless enough that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my evening.

I kept an eye out for the rest of the night, but Lenny did not reappear.

Over the next few weeks, though, I spotted him now and again, sometimes during my nighttime internet marathons, and sometimes during the day as I did any homework that required typing. Gradually, we got to know each other.

I discovered that Lenny never came out unless I was playing music. And he liked his music loud. The more I cranked up the volume, the farther he ventured out on his web. He would still vanish whenever anyone else entered the room, but he got used to my occasional shifts in the rolling office chair and would usually stay put if I excused myself momentarily, just so long as I kept the tunes coming.

I began consulting with Lenny each day as I waited for our whiny dial-up to connect. “How about some Pink Floyd, buddy?” I would ask the seemingly vacant web. “Or maybe the Stones?” Out of the corner of my eye I would see Lenny’s front legs peek out hopefully from under the lamp base. “Stones it is.”

Shortly after our move, my parents had agreed to let me join the cult of Columbia House, and my music collection exploded practically overnight. I bought CDs the same way everyone else I knew did: basing my album purchases on the hit singles I heard on the radio and hoping for the best. Some were winners, some were disappointing flops, but Lenny was there with me for every appraising listen, helping me judge the gems from the duds.

What the hell, Sugar Ray? Nothing else on this album was remotely like "Fly"!!!

Raise your hand if you bought this album for “Fly” and were sorely, sorely disappointed.

I got so used to Lenny’s companionship that on nights where he decided to stay in and wash his hair (or just disapproved of my latest music choices), I started to worry about him. But a couple days later he’d always be back in his usual spirits, coaxed out by the compelling voice of Matthew Good or the satisfying noise of Filter.

Then one day, Lenny was gone. I walked into the computer room and cast my usual glance toward his tangled domicile, only to see a pristine, uninhabited gap of darkness between a shiny lamp base and smooth, unblemished hardwood flooring. Cold realization hit me.

“Dad?”

“Yep?”

“Did you vacuum the office?”

“Yeah, it was getting pretty dusty in there. Cobwebs everywhere. Why?”

Shit. “Oh…nothing. Looks good, Dad.”

Goodbye, Lenny.

 

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