Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shelly, The Snake, and Humphrey

I married a Navajo man.

He’s not one-twenty-fourth Navajo. Alex is 100 percent Navajo. People are often fascinated by that fact. Alex’s mom, Shelly, and her husband (Robert the Snake) live in Phoenix, Arizona. Shelly is a nurse at Indian Hospital and the Snake works there too.

The Snake is from the Mojave Tribe and he is a “Singer” who goes around and performs ceremonies for people. I guess it’s kind of like being a Medicine Man. When an ex-husband of mine was dying, the Snake flew up to Northern California to do a singing for him. The ceremony lasted from about ten at night until ten in the morning. My ex-husband’s wife very much appreciated this. (Yeah, she and I are friends.)

About twenty years ago, right after Alex and I got married, we made a trip to Phoenix to visit the family. I adore his family, Mom, stepdad and two darling sisters. The visit was progressing nicely, as I was in the “getting to know you” phase with all of them. My Mexican/Irish San Francisco background was as fascinating to them as their connection to the Navajo Nation was to me! Culturally, we were sometimes worlds apart, but usually not.

While Shelly and the Snake were at work, I was walking down the hallway in their home and saw something on the wall that made me do a double-take. It was the biggest, fiercest looking spider I have ever seen in my life. It was the size of a grapefruit. I stood stock still and screamed for my beloved groom to come and save me. Alex came up behind me and said “What’s the matter?” Look on the wall, beloved husband! What do you think is the matter?

When Alex saw the spider, he said “What do you want me to do?” Excuse me? What did he think I wanted him to do. “KILL THE SPIDER, ALEX!” Looking very concerned, Alex left the hallway to look for something to kill the spider with. He was gone a long time. I am still frozen right across from the thing. All eight of its eyes are now trained on me just waiting for me to come closer, or even waiting for me to leave so he could scurry off and hide under my bed until later that same night!

Knowing my husband, he was gone a long time in hopes that the spider would simply move on so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. He came back with a book, shuddered and smashed the spider, and told me, “I hate killing things.” Well, too damned bad, beloved groom. I don’t like killing things either, but I cannot live with a fourteen pound spider on the wall outside the place I will be sleeping.

We cleaned up the wall, and threw away all the evidence, considerate houseguests that we are.
After dinner, Shelly and the Snake and Alex and I were watching television and chatting. I said, “Oh, Shelly! You had the biggest spider I’ve ever seen on the wall! Don’t worry, Alex killed it.” Shelly’s jaw dropped. She said to the Snake, “Honey, do you think it was Humphrey?” The Snake said, “Maybe. Maybe not. What did it look like?”

I started getting a funny feeling about all of this. While Alex described the beast, his Mom interjected questions, “Was he brown with a little bit of red on his head?” “Was he kind of furry?” By the end of the session, Shelly and the Snake looked sadly at each other when they determined, “Yup. It was Humphrey.”

Apparently this spider had lived with them a long time. They once moved from one house to the house next door and Humphrey had followed to and moved back in. The Snake had put him outside on many occasions, but Humphrey just came right back in. He did no harm. He just lived there.

I apologized as sincerely as I could.

I guess it was a novice mistake. By the way, Humphrey was the last spider to die at my request. While I still am afraid of them, they are all reprieved and put gently out into the yard.

Shelly and the Snake did forgive me eventually.

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