Pandemic Pals: Tales from the Sofa

By Pam Tallman

“Don’t kill it!” I shouted at my husband. The shocked look on his face I’m sure matched that of the spider he was about to flatten. That’s how starved for conversation I am, I’ve started chatting with the spider who has taken up residence in my kitchen garden window. In fact, we’ve become good friends. You might say, pandemic pals.

 I first met Spidella—Spidey was already taken—a week ago when I spotted her crawling across my kitchen countertop. (Actually I have no idea if it’s a him or a her, but in honor of the year of the woman, I thought, What the hey.)

An important service announcement for arachnids everywhere, when you’re a dark color, look both ways before you cross white Corian. If you don’t follow this advice you might as well hold up a sign that says, “Kill me now.”

Yesterday Spidella got herself into a real mess. I was rinsing my coffee cup in the sink when I spotted her struggling to not get washed down the drain. Just before her final swirl, I quickly turned off the water. “What are you doing in there?” I asked, and waited for her to crawl out of the big porcelain spider trap. Only she couldn’t. She’d inch up the side of the sink and then slide back down. After witnessing several valiant attempts, I grabbed a precious paper towel from my fast-dwindling stockpile and laid it in front of her. She happily—at least I think she was happy because not drowning would make me happy—crawled onto the towel and I transferred her back to her garden window.

Whew. That was a close one.

My next fast-thinking save came when I noticed that the great huntress—Tilly, my Abyssinian—seemed extremely interested in something under the placemat that I keep on the bottom of the garden window.

“Tilly, leave the spider alone!” I shouted.

In normal times I’d be saying, “Tilly, get the spider!” But these are not normal times. Nothing about staying away from other humans is normal. Talking on the phone just isn’t the same. Conversations need to be face to face, eye to eye, or in the case of my new friend the spider, eye to eye-to eye-to eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye.

Spidella seems to have learned that I am no threat. She comes out at all hours and doesn’t run when one of her eight eyes catches sight of me. I wish I knew what she ate because I’d fix her a nice meal. What else do we have to do while isolated except cook? The Internet has infinite recipes and we all have to use up that hoard of food we overbought at Costco.

Many of my friends have emailed me lamenting that they’re gaining weight—a combination of gyms closing and mouths opening. A lot of pundits have tried to predict what the U.S. will look like after this pandemic and I predict that most of the country will look pudgy. Millions of us will need to go on a diet. Lose the Pandemic Pounds will be our mantra. But on the bright side, those of us who are lucky enough to come out of this alive will all go back to the gym. There we’ll reconnect with our friends and tell our harrowing war stories, not of exploding bombs and whizzing bullets, but shocking tales about the difficulties of sitting all day on the sofa and how infuriatingly slow the Internet got a peak times.

After this is over, when we can again be with people, I hope my buddy the spider and I remain friends. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that my cat feels the same way.

Judge’s Comments: Nice writing, shows small moments of joy.

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