Where have you been, Fall?

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

The spiders are taking over.

No, not thirty-foot tall radioactive giant spiders, and no, they’re not taking over the world. It’s the pea-sized, cobwebby spiders I’m worried about. They’re taking over my front door. They’ve conquered the outside of my front window. And I’m pretty sure they’ve got designs on the corners inside my little apartment, too. I keep waiting for them to ring my doorbell, tell me they’ve been clean for a year, and ask if I want to buy a magazine subscription.

But I shouldn’t complain. The spiders are only one more sign that fall is, finally, mercifully on its way. See, over the summer it was caterpillars all over my doorstep, long fuzzy ones with yellow stripes that would have been cute if a) I could convince myself they weren’t going to turn into moths that would, inevitably, wind up dead inside my lighting fixtures b) there weren’t so gosh darn many of them. It was creepy, like I’d accidentally stepped into a B-Movie horror flick named “They Only Crawl at Midnight!”

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And now the spiders have arrived to eat the caterpillars or whatever winged thing the caterpillars turn into, and so between that and the blessed, blessed cooler temperatures this week, fall should just about here.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Summer is the undisputed best season of them all, better than fall, better than spring, better than football season even…and then you turn 16. Driver’s license. Job. And what used to be a time for cannonballs off the pier, all-day Super Mario Bros. sessions, backyard wiffle ball, and a seemingly endless supply of Otter Pops is now a time for sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, and capital-S Sweat. There’s plenty of other reasons why the summer months are the short end of the popsicle stick:

Major League Baseball. As a kid, I used to live and die with the Braves. Now I fall asleep on my couch in the sixth inning and wake up an hour after the game’s finished with the Braves. I’d say watching regular season Major League Baseball is like watching the grass grow, but if it’s one of those videos where they take a snapshot of grass every day for a month and then played them all back in a row so it looked like the grass was growing really fast…I think the grass would be more exciting.

Hot cars: There’s no feeling of dread quite like leaving the grocery store and walking out to your car in July, knowing that its windows are rolled up and its insides are going to be hotter than an African greenhouse and it’s going to be like that all…the way…home. If Hansel and Gretel didn’t have an oven handy, they could have always pushed the evil witch into a parked car in Alabama in summer.

Stickiness: If summer had corporate sponsors, they’d be Elmer’s Glue, Post-It notes, and that yellow putty teachers use to hang posters up. Whether it’s thanks to a sweaty t-shirt clinging to the small of your back, a melted ice cream cone dribbling over your fingers, or half the lawn you just mowed adhering itself blade-by-blade to your ankles, nothing says summer like the feeling that you need to wash something off of yourself as soon as possible.

There are other things I could mention–why, there’s a whole column out there waiting to be written about chiggers–but why dwell on the past? There’s surely one or two more blasts of hair-dryer-ish heat coming our way in the next month, but now that I can walk to my car without having to wipe my brow before I even get there, there’s no doubt summer’s on its last bug-bitten legs.

Which, of course, is a cause for celebration. There’s football: high school, college, even the NFL, all of it liable to yank you out of your seat or say fun things like “Unbe-frickin’-lievable!” at any time. There’s the hardwood trees, which look nice-and-all green, but look like the more-colorful relatives of Moses’s burning bush in their reds and golds. There’s tailgating, and new episodes of “King of the Hill,” and kids screaming like delighted maniacs after scoring their first goal out on the soccer field…and getting to finally take your favorite blanket back out of the closet, the one your grandmother knitted when you were a baby, and curling up in its warmth every night as you fall asleep.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to prefer a different season. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence I was born the first week of October. I might even throw a party this year.

If, that is, it’s OK with the spiders.