Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narrator. (Why do you laugh? Change the name and this is your story.)
So here’s a few things you’ve got to know about black widow spiders. Not the Small Office version, not our head of human resources, filled with venom and shrouded in mystery though she is. No, the real black widows. They are rather shy creatures, preferring to stay low to the ground, hidden in dark corners. They seldom bite unless threatened or (literally) pressed hard and, even then, won’t necessarily waste their venom on you; they’d rather save it for a meal. The venom won’t kill, though it could make you quite ill.
Black widow spiders are also kind of neat, with a very complex system of communication. They can transmit very detailed messages using vibrations and pheromones deposited on the silky threads of their sticky webs. The scent will tell visiting males if his female host has mated before and if she is hungry. Both would be of keen interest to the male if this particular female is the kind that consumes her mate after sex.
Now you are likely very confused, still unsure if I am talking about black widows in general or the one in particular. I cannot blame you; personally, I can hardly tell them apart.
Anyway, our Black Widow has an office with its very own bathroom. It makes sense to be self-contained; everything HR should be kept under wraps after all. And low to the ground and hidden in dark corners.
Earlier this week, she had an important management meeting to attend and, knowing it was likely to drag on, decided to lighten her load. On this day, however, fortune was not on her side. Her toilet blocked.
So more latin: Media vita in morte sumus. Smack in the middle of the day, her life going along just fine, everything came to a sudden stop. Our Black Widow was in deep… uh… trouble.
Now she was not totally helpless. She had a plunger standing at the ready in a corner. And a knife and fork for that matter. This happened before and Black Widow knew what to do. She plunged. But nothing. She plunged again. Nothing again. Plunge, plunge. Nothing, nothing. This was not a good thing. The hourglass tattooed on her abdomen was filling with panic. Plunge, plunge.
She tried to break up the pieces, but the hardness she showed others was coming back to her in spades and the pieces held firm. The cookies, shall we say, wouldn’t crumble.
A stifled shriek could be heard through the door.
Time passed. The meeting had already started. The secretary poked her head in the doorway. Is everything okay? she called out to her boss. Black Widow answered her meekly. Vibrations. Pheromones. She tried to explain her dilemma as delicately as she could. The secretary tried not to laugh. Don’t press the spider.
Well, whoever said “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” wasn’t in Black Widow’s office that day.
Her colleagues, wondering where she was, decided to check in on her. The first to arrive was – fortunately for her – Rigor Mortis. He has a calmness about him that is contagious. Is everything okay? he asked the secretary. Not quite so, came the reply. Does she have a plunger? Yes. Always. Does it have a flange at the bottom? He asked our awkwardly inconvenienced arachnid though the door. Is the flange out? I can help you if you need. Noooo!, Black Widow wailed.
General Ledger then appeared, straight as an arrow. To the heart. Then Bull Terrier. When the nature of this particular beastly situation became apparent to him, a wicked smile began to form at the corners of his lips. Can I help, he asked our mortified araneomorph. Plunge, plunge. I don’t want to bowl you over with advice, he went on. All that plunging must have made you quite flushed. He snickered.
The Black Widow went into a frenzy, pumping so hard, the soupy mess splattered all over her pants and shoes. A stifled shriek could be heard through the door.
Our supportive and mostly sensitive CEO, the Man from Glad, entered the fray. As did his bosomy secretary, Miss Pigeon. The circumstances may not have been auspicious, but you have to give Black Widow credit: she is certainly able to draw a crowd.
Well, Miss Pigeon may be top-heavy and hard to take but, as in the Desktop Affair, she took matters in hand (so to speak) and shooed everyone out of the room. She called down to maintenance and apprised them of the situation. Then she told Black Widow to clean up and get out. This she did… and well she did because the maintenance guy appeared shortly.
Undeterred by the odiferous and oleaginous slop, he worked on the blockage and quickly resolved the issue. He left with a tip of his cap and without a word.
Aesop’s fables made use of humble incidents to teach great truths. There was no great truth to our tale, however, no moral to learn, no aetiological function to derive. There was nothing to learn from it at all except, perhaps, that misery does not really love company. But, like a traffic accident, it certainly manages to attract it.