For us, life at the condo was a scream

'Hey, Sandy." "Hi, Jen." We contemplated one another from either side of the ominous object.

"How was your day?"

"Good. You?"

"Good."

Silence for a moment, then: "How long have you been standing there?"

"A couple minutes." I sure wasn't going anywhere.

Sandy and I were living in a condo that belonged to her parents. They were unwilling to sell it, yet didn't want it to sit vacant. The happy result was that a couple of college bums got to move into a community where everyone else was over 50 at least.

Despite the age difference, Sandy and I fitted in pretty well. We both drive extinct land barges, go to bed early, and are early to rise. My best stereo is an old record player. In fact, the only thing our neighbors could complain about was that we are both oxygen-sucking, eardrum-splitting screamers in need of very little to set us off.

Sandy's fiancé, Adam, had once surprised us by walking through a rare unlocked door and saying (in a calm, soothing voice) "Boo." Sandy and I had erupted into a screaming standoff. When one of us paused for breath, the other would carry the scream alone, ensuring maximum volume and duration of sound. Adam was quite amused. We held him hostage for several hours that day in case a neighbor phoned to report a probable murder. No one did, evidently. Which rather disturbed us.

"So. You're headed home, huh?" Sandy interrupted my train of thought.

"Eventually. You headed out?"

"I was thinking about it."

One more thing about our neighborhood: Our condo was accessible only by walking a wooden "bridge" flanked on one side by thick bushes and on the other by a steep hillside that spilled into a forest. Fun for spotting deer, rabbits, raccoons - and a breeding ground for supersize spiders.

They hide out during the day, avoiding the murderous broom and bottle of Formula 409 (our only chemical weapon). But they materialize at night to spin webs that span the entire width of the bridge. These man-traps are undetectable until they're four inches in front of one's face which, if one is fortunate, is usually when the hulking arachnoid is noticed.

The super spider that had attracted our attention this particular evening had built a web right in the middle of the stairs leading down to our condo, trapping Sandy in and effectively keeping me out.

"Do you have your umbrella with you?" Sandy didn't need to say any more. I whipped out my pocket umbrella and hurled it at the web.

It sailed over the target by several feet and disappeared into the abysmal (and no doubt spider- infested) depths beyond the bridge.

"I was actually hoping that you would open it and walk through the web," Sandy said. A good and sound suggestion, but a bit late.

My turn to come up with an idea. Turning around, I marched into the trees beyond the parking lot and returned armed with several stout sticks. I carefully broke the web's ties to the bridge and, squealing and full of adrenaline, leapt over the grounded and slightly confused spider.

Once again our fearless and unconcerned neighbors failed to alert the authorities of an alarming ruckus. Proud of having resolved our quandary within reasonable (or at least excusable) decibel levels, Sandy and I peacefully continued our interrupted lives.

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