The Dot

Upon opening the shower curtain I saw it.  At first I assumed it was a piece of lint, or perhaps a torn bit of cloth from a towel.  But when it began to move towards me I realized my mistake.  Aha!  It is A Dot!  It was too far away from me to see what kind of Dot, so I cautiously exited the shower and toweled off while keeping a periodic eye on The Dot.  After reaching a satisfactory level of dryness I turned my full attention back to The Dot.  I stooped over and inspected the creature.  The Dot is a Spider Dot.

There is a set of rules I have created between The Dots and myself:

  1. You do not live here, I do.
  2. You live outside.
  3. If you accidentally find yourself inside do not surprise me.
  4. If you surprise me I will most likely kill you through pure instinct.
  5. If you do not surprise me I will take you outside.

Since The Dot did not surprise me (he was marching across the bathroom in plain sight), it had earned a free trip outside.  I informed it of its impending travel plans and told it not to move because I would be back soon to provide transport.

I went off to the kitchen to find a suitable Container, and after a few short seconds found a small plastic Tupperware Container with a matching Lid.  Perfect!  With Dot Transport Device in hand I returned to the bathroom to find The Dot waiting patiently for me.  Still wrapped in my towel I crouched down low over The Dot and set about my work.

Being closer to the dot revealed more about him (I do not know how to tell male Spider Dot from female Spider Dot, but I have decided this is a he, perhaps because he is travelling alone across the empty desert that is my tile floor).  He was black, with legs extending perhaps as wide in diameter as a penny.  Examining his legs closer I realized a problem.  The Dot had four legs on one side, but only two on the other.  Spider Dots are supposed to have four legs on each side.

Now I felt bad for The Dot.  Somehow he had managed to lose his two front-left legs.  For a Spider Dot this must be a major inconvenience, I thought.  But he seemed to be walking alright to me,  so perhaps my logic was faulty and Spider Dots do not need all their legs as much as I imagined.  I continued with my plan to move The Dot into my round Transport Device.

Each Dot is unique in the way they let themselves be ushered.  Some Dots seem completely oblivious to the events going around them, they go about their business without a care to what you might be doing just inches away from them.  These Dots are the easiest to usher.  You just put a Transport Device in front of them and they walk right into (or onto) it.  Beetle Dots seem to be in this category.  The Dot was not a Beetle Dot.

Other Dots will take a more regulated approach.  They will walk up to your transport device and stop just short of it.  They will commence an inspection of it, feeling around the edges, perhaps trying to identify the plant that this strange new object is made of.  More often than not, after this short inspection is complete, they will march ahead and into (or onto) the Transport Device and put their faith in you to get them to a better locale.  Ant Dots seems to be in this category.  The Dot was not an Ant Dot.

The Dot was a Spider Dot, and you never know how Spider Dots will react.  Sometimes they act like Beetle Dots, and sometimes like Ant Dots, but The Dot acted like neither of those.  The Dot approached round my round Transport Device, which was now on its edge in front of The Dot.  He inspected it quickly and then brought a leg up onto the rim.  He wanted to get in, but could not make the final climb over the rim due to his missing appendages.  I used the lid in an attempt to help The Dot (sometimes Dots need a final light encouragement to enter the Transport Device).  This worked, but his remaining legs found no purchase, and he slid back onto the tile floor.

I imagined The Dot’s eight eyes (Spider Dots have eight eyes too, did you know that?) looking up at me, annoyed with my choice in Transport Device.  I tried again, but this time with the Transport Lid instead of the Transport Container (this Transport Device came in two pieces).  This had much the same result – The Dot was able to get onto half of the lid, but when The Lid was raised he slipped off to the tile floor, tumbled once, righted himself, and then resumed his annoyed glare at me.

I had it!  The round Transport Bowl needed to be flattened to create more of a ramp for The Dot.  I pressed down on the Transport Bowl and created a much better loading zone for The Dot.  With some encouragement from The Lid I was able to coax The Dot closer to The Container.  Much the same as last time he began with his front-most leg.   This he followed with the leg right behind that one (his second right leg if you are having trouble visualizing it).  He scrambled with the rest of his legs, nearly over the round edge and almost fully into the container now.  He just needed one last push to get in.  I brought The Lid behind him and positioned it so it would provide the lifting action that The Dot so desperately needed to get into The Container.

That’s when it happened.  I’m not sure exactly how it did.  Maybe The Dot was startled by The Lid, or maybe he slipped and fell back to the tile floor.  It didn’t matter exactly how it happened, the reality was that he was no longer in a position to be lifted by the approaching lid.  Instead he was directly between wall of The Container and the approaching Lid.  There was the most faint ‘snap’ sound I have ever heard, and The Dot was no longer spread out like a penny, but instead curled up on himself like a fist.

Spider Dots don’t have muscles like you and me.  Instead Spider Dots use hydraulics, like the kind that the big tractors have.  Like us, Spider Dots have hearts though, and it is their hearts that provide the pressure to control their legs.  Without the pressure of their beating hearts, Spider Dot legs curls up underneath them, just like The Dot did.

I hoped he was pretending, but if I was being true to myself I knew he wasn’t.  The Dot was no more.  I scooped him into the Container, and lightly placed The Lid on top.   Now that he was inside the Transport Device I granted The Dot his trip to The Outside – he had certainly earned it.  I placed him in The Planter on my porch which holds the Basil in the summer months.  I hope he likes it there.

 

I Don’t Know Why I Remember

I don’t know why I remember him but I do. I first noticed him in the produce aisle. There was something about the way he pushed his cart – perhaps slightly unsure of himself. He was old, the kind where you can see all the veins in his wrist, and discolored blotches of skin appeared in random places along his exposed forearm. There was also frizzy, thinning white hair trying to escape from under his baseball hat.

As he picked through peppers I watched him for a few seconds; he would pick one up, study it as best he could with shaking hands and then put it back.  He’d select another, look at it inquisitively, and then place that one back on the shelf too. Picking through produce is normal, but the way he did it indicated inexperience in the exercise. After watching for a few seconds I left him to his peppers and continued on to the next item on my list.

Later, I saw him again in the transition between the hair products aisle and the one with paper stuff in it. I probably would not have recognized him again if I hadn’t been so intrigued by his pepper-picking before. I was following behind him as he pushed his cart when he and another woman passed each other going different directions. At the same moment two bottles of shampoo from a supermarket display fell to the floor. The woman was closest to the display, and she picked up one of the bottles and put it back. The old man picked up the second bottle, and with a wide grin as if to say “Ha! Isn’t this a hoot!”, handed it to the lady who was still standing in front of the display case. The lady returned his good-natured smile with a scowl, grabbed the bottle from his hand and put it back on the display. She pushed her cart off in a hurry, and left him standing there with his smile fading. Finally he turned back to his cart and continued on to the juice aisle.

As I watched him turn into his next aisle I felt I understood his story. He was inexperienced at this. Very inexperienced. He had been married for sixty years to a woman he loved. She always did this part while he was away at work. Now she was gone and he was left to fend for himself. What’s a “good pepper” look like? Who knows? He knows they tasted good when she made them, that’s for sure. Now he lives alone in the house they built together, mostly reading his favorite books or maybe watching some TV.

The only time he really gets out and has some human interaction is when he has to do the shopping, and that was the smile I saw when he handed that lady the shampoo bottle from the floor. It was interaction, it was life, it was a chance to strike up a conversation about the weather. Maybe he was about to tell her she looked a little like his wife, at least until she gave him that I’m Too Busy For This Shit snarl. Not then. Nope. She grabbed that bottle from his hand and unknowingly threw something away. He might not have a whole lot left to give the world, but he had a little bit that day, and she didn’t want it.