Natasha, or, I Can See Dirt

“When,” I asked the Engineer as I reached the top of the staircase with a long-handled duster, “were you going to tell me that there were cobwebs in the first floor shower enclosure that belonged on the set of a Vincent Price movie?”

“Ah,” he replied. “I thought you would enjoy discovering them for yourself.”

(Later, he admitted that he just hadn’t noticed. I hope I am not being gratuitously sexist but this is probably something on the Y chromosome.)

You have to understand that it is two years since it became apparent someone had to operate on my eyes or I’d go blind. Two years of everything looking increasingly blurry because I was not getting this job done in the middle of a pandemic. Once one could go back in the grocery store armed, quite literally, with a vaccine (about June, for us), I discovered that I could not make out, standing in the middle of the aisle, what in the eternal fuck was actually on the shelves. Last Friday, I got my first pair of new glasses for my new eyes.

I can see dirt.

That faint blur next to the cat dish in the cellar that I thought was just a random stain on the concrete floor was a dead cricket. A dead cricket that’s been there for weeks. “Agatha was probably saving it for a snack,” said the Engineer.

I opened the casement windows at ground level in the finished room next door to the Cricket Mausoleum and washed two years’ of mud off them. I Windexed every mirror in the house.

There were a lot of cobwebs. “I hate to clean them out,” the Engineer explained when I suggested he had to have seen at least some of them. (The ones in the unfinished ceiling of the laundry area rivalled my neighbors’ Halloween displays.) “I feel bad for the spiders.”

Cobwebs are dust that collect on abandoned webs, and there is no reason not to clean them up, but he said he was concerned about Natasha.

I bit. “Natasha?”

“You know, on the lamp,” he said. I never kill spiders — they are holy, and eat icky little mites and such — and he had pointed out to me while we were lifting that one had made her home inside a lampshade in the finished room. When my eyes were finally fixed, I could see her. I was not aware he had named her Natasha.

After the Black Widow, apparently. Natasha Romanov, the Scarlet Johannsen character in the Marvel pictures. Oh.

(She is not a black widow. I think she is what is called a Common House Spider, with ridiculously long legs surrounding a pale body the size of a pinhead. She gives no trouble.)

On the one hand, seeing dirt is always going to be up to me. I accept that people have different levels of tolerance for this kind of thing (I have clients, for one, and we have a running joke about how if he takes a utensil or bowl out and sets it on the counter, I have washed it before he can use it).

On the other hand, he cares about Natasha. How can I not love this guy?

3 thoughts on “Natasha, or, I Can See Dirt

  1. I have an agreement with the [non-venomous] spiders in my house: as long as they don’t tread on me, they can stay. And the really big hunting spiders should hide themselves, so I can continue to pretend they aren’t there. Having cats probably motivates them to stay out of sight.

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