Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Choices of Spiderpotato

Hospital waiting room. Four hours to go for us. A roomfull of people waiting and waiting.

She is one of the few in my continued view. I watch her from time to time because she is knitting one of those scarves that is all fly-away fuzzy like a crazy Muppet's hair -- like a white boa. Somehow making this entails knitting three kinds of yarn together at the same time. I watch the skeins form into a scarf at her shriveled hands and can't help thinking she is really a spider.

She wears a tan sweatsuit (velour, I think they call it) that makes her look like a potato when she stands up to stretch her legs -- a shapeless body full of bumps where there should not be bumps.

A spider disguised as a potato. A clever ruse.

I fear she will wrap me in her ugly Muppet scarf and drain me of fluid soon, if she doesn't eat something for lunch. I consider going down to the cafeteria to get her a sandwich, but realize that such an action would be impossible to explain.

The waiting-room volunteer strolls around updating people about their loved ones. She stops at Spiderpotato, who looks up, annoyed. "They're hard to knit," the volunteer says pleasantly.

"No. They're not," hisses Spiderpotato. Coldness seeps out around our feet, oozing around like stage fog. A five-four string line undulates in A minor . . .

I shiver a little, and feel glad I am wearing a sweater.

The volunteer lady smiles weakly and sidles away from Spiderpotato. Spiderpotato goes back to her web -- uh, scarf. She looks up at me, sideways, and I look at my hands. How long has she been in this old hospital?

Before long, she puts down her work and walks away. There it lies the chair. Should I steal it? No. She'd surely have me then.

She floats over to the vending machine. I see her look from item to item, left to right, level to level, slowly: Swedish Fish; Doritos (original); Fritos; Baked Ruffles; Doritos (ranch); Herr's Chips; Baby Back Rib Chips (what!?); Herr's Sour Cream Chips; Sun Chips; Ruffles Sour Cream; Snyder's Pretzels; Cheez-its; Wheat Thins; Goldfish; Party Mix; Famous Amos Cookies; Blueberry Pomegranate Trail Mix (are these big sellers?); empty corkscrew snack delivery thing (Spiderpotato winces); Chex Mix; Pop Tarts; Peanut Butter and Cheese Crackers; Nuts; M&Ms, Plain; M&Ms, Peanut; Twix; Hershey Bar; Nestle's Crunch; Snickers; Reese's Pieces; Krimpets . . .

She studies them for what seems an hour, like a pilgrim gazing up in awe in a cathedral. A dollar wags at the end of her fingers, as if it is trying to escape her grasp. She shifts her weight, causing tiny ripples in the velour, making it look, for a moment, like ribbed beach sand. She studies . . . she strikes: the poor dollar is sucked in and she presses a number/letter combination. Her hapless victim plummets from level two into the trough: Baked Ruffles.

She wheels around and scowls at me, pulling the bag apart. She reaches in and takes out a single, cardboard-stiff baked potato crisp. She engulfs it with her lips. Chews. Was that a smile? -- a raising of the corner of her mouth? My blood chills.

She sits again, bag at her side. Spiderpotato picks up her threads again and works on her scarf, stopping every now and again to devour a harmless, reduced fat chip.

Every now and again she looks at me. Once, I try to smile. She does not. There is no mirth in Spiderpotato.

It is then that I understand. She is eating baked chips. She is trying to lose weight. Large, forty-something men are no longer on her menu. She no longer wants to be a Spiderpotato.

She wants to become Spiderfry.

Saved by America's unrealistic body-image standards, I fall into a restful chair-nap to iPod strains of Antonio Lauro. I dream of dramatic escapes from swatting hands and graceful landings on brown piles in vast green fields.


  1. I don't really know what to say...Is this how you view your entire life? Because I want to live in that world. You've even got a sound track...awesome...You should look into the soundtrack tshirts you can plug your ipod into.



  2. Haha -- desired effect achieved -- though I fear I might have lost some readers today . . .

  3. Finally...the vending machine list made an appearance!

    "She engulfs it with her lips."

  4. Don't know if this says something about my own bizarre sense of humor, but definitely my favorite to date!!


  5. I believe it does, ol' BSM; I believe it does. I glad -- I thought this one would be the proverbial lead balloon . . . Thanks!