For the past several years, Delores has been living a lie. Everyone--including her girlfriend, Cindy--thinks that she is a big, ole butch. But as Delores sits at her workbench, gazing at her vast collection of drill bits, she knows that her tough-girl image is a sham. After all, what does it matter if you can bench-press a toilet or rip open a beer bottle with your teeth when you cry like a little girl every time you see a spider.
Yes, that's right. Big, bad Delores is terrified of spiders. And no one knows it but me. Most people would never guess that Delores is a sissy. Certainly not her mother, who shakes her head warily whenever Delores stomps to the dinner table in construction boots. Not her softball teammates, who watch in awe as Delores growls at bartenders who make the mistake of watering down her cocktails. And not Cindy, who counts on Delores to lift heavy objects, offend bourgeois sensibilities, and kill anything that crawls into the house on eight legs.
But what Cindy doesn't know is that whenever she orders Delores to get rid of a spider, I'm the one who does it. Delores is too busy shaking with fright and whimpering to do it herself.
"There are spiders the size of Shetland ponies hanging from my porch," Delores cried into the phone last week. "Cindy's not home, so get over here quick. And bring plenty of weapons."
"You and Cindy have been together for five years," I said. "Don't you think it's time that you confess your dirty, little secret?"
"If I did, she'd lose all respect for me," Delores whined.
"I think she lost all respect for you when she learned about your obsession with Celine Dion," I said. "I know I did."
I knew how painful it was for someone as butch as Delores to ask someone as cowardly as me for help. After all, she is a Teamster and I am a dilettante. She knows the difference between AC and DC, and I'm lucky if I remember not to stick my tongue in electrical sockets. Arachnid control is the one area of life where I outperform Delores. And I take every opportunity to remind her of that fact.
"Poor Delores," I said to myself, as I deliberately dressed in one of my most girlish outfits--a hot-pink romper and flowered sneakers--to further shame her.
When I arrived at her home, she cowered behind me as she pointed a shaky finger at the spiders.
"The one that looks like a pit bull just bared its teeth at me," she said.
I dismissed her with a wave of my hand and marched onto the porch. "OK, spiders," I said. "There's a new sheriff in town. You've got 10 minutes to get off this porch."
The spiders grumbled bitterly. But after they realized I was not going to take any of their guff, they packed up their little things and moved to a neighboring porch. I smiled smugly at Delores.
"Oh, don't act so brave," she said miserably. "You're scared of a lot more things than I am. You're scared of commitment, intimacy, and people with large teeth."
"That's very true," I said. "But I don't have one fear that I can conquer by simply smushing it with my shoe."