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April 2010 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on April 1, 2010
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Contributors: Dr. Vern

It's war. There's a battle brewing for control of my garage. My manhood is at stake, so there's no way I'm going to back down from this turf war. Let's just say if I don't stand my ground, I may not be allowed to enjoy my garage and the Jeeps within. This is important, because where else can I transform intact Jeeps into various collections of parts? Once I've staked my territory like this, I have no choice but to let my adversary know my intentions. Now if I could only figure out how to get the message across to a spider.

Understand it's no ordinary spider fighting for supremacy over my garage. I met him face to face under my Jeep, and as best as I can tell (I was fleeing in terror at the time), this spider was about the size of a housecat. Actually, if forced to choose between the two, the spider earns points because at least he isn't intent on repeatedly and accurately coughing hairballs into my slippers. However, the spider would probably still lose the competition, because there's no way I'd let him into the house, seeing as how he's not about to let me into the garage.

Sometime about now, readers who belong to the Spider Anti-Defamation (SAD) league will be penning letters in defense of arachnids. Plenty of insects may be eaten by them (the spiders, not necessarily my readers), but a can of Raid works just as well to limit their numbers (the spiders once again, not necessarily my readers). Furthermore, a can of bug killer isn't about to silently crawl up my neck while I'm on my back working under my Jeep.

I've only seen this spider once, so the anticipation of meeting him again only makes the situation worse. I have irrefutable proof that he's still there, and very active, too. You see, before pulling my Jeep into the garage for some overdue maintenance on the undercarriage, I had a brainstorm. After having so much crud fall on my face over the years while working under my Jeep, I was proactive (Bingo!) this time. I dug many years' worth of quarters from my couch and went to the carwash, pressure washing years of dirt from beneath my Jeep. Yet as soon as I crawled under my Jeep, I found lots and lots of crud waiting to fall on me once again. Had I done my prep work incompetently? That would be like implying I was wrong, so that leaves only one reasonable explanation for the source of the debris. It had to be spider poop. It makes perfect sense, judging by the size of Mr. Spider and how much he must eat

While I'm not about to let myself become the spider's next meal, it's still sad that I can't set foot in my garage again. It's unfortunate, because I finally whipped my garage into top shape for Jeep-related duties. It's got oodles of pneumatic lines for air tools. There are now so many lights; I'm only a flip of a switch away from the next best thing to bringing the sun into my garage. And most amazing of all, I put away every box that wasn't related to Jeeps or the tools required for working on one. That's no small feat, because I've only been in this house less than two years. My previous record was having unneeded boxes sitting around for the better part of a decade. On top of that, as the luckiest man ever, I married the world's sweetest woman about a year ago, which more than compensated for picking up a few bazillion extra boxes of household goods in the process.

I've no idea why, but there's something about a garage that just screams, "Set that box here and forget about it for years!" That's bad enough, but the same voice also urges one to set more boxes on top of and next to the first box. Before you know what happened, the inside of your garage looks like a fortress made from giant cardboard bricks. To make the situation even worse, the garage soon becomes as impenetrable as if those were real bricks. The only way to regain your space, for the sake of all that is good and right about Jeeps, is to go through those boxes one by one and start throwing things away.

Sorting and unpacking so many boxes was quite the test of my fortitude. I couldn't even remember what was in the mound of corrugated cardboard I had hauled from place to place, but I had the vague feeling that it was stuff I shouldn't just blindly toss. There were a few pleasant surprises, of course, such as rare Jeep parts I'd forgotten had been stashed away. At the other end of the spectrum, there were a few unpleasant surprises, too, such as a box full of old heartfelt love letters from a certain formerly devoted wife. All my afternoons watching Oprah hadn't gone to waste, because I know it's important to acknowledge the strong emotions those notes would trigger. I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit confusion about what to do. Should I pile the letters in a heap in the driveway before setting them on fire? Or would they burn better if spread out? Should I soak them in lighter fluid first? And perhaps most important of all, how does one lure an enormous garage-dwelling spider into the fire? -Dr. Vern

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