Your home’s underbelly is no place to be manly

image There comes a time in every man’s life when he must set an example for his son by crawling under the house to fix something. This must be done with apparent fearlessness even though he knows whatever needs fixing is going to be located in the darkest corner of the home’s underbelly, probably behind a spider web the size of a commercial fishing net.

Several years ago, I used plywood to seal up the underside of our home and stop what I suspected were nightly “rave” parties hosted by our cat. These parties generally started around 11:30 p.m. and were held directly beneath our bedroom floor, where it sounded like 20 cats playing Twister. Naturally, I had no choice but to break up these parties by getting out of bed and shoving our 60-lb. Labrador headfirst through the crawl space in our closet floor.

My point is this: Sealing things up stopped the cat parties. Unfortunately, it also turned the crawl space under our home into a frightening black void where, thanks to evolution, a species of hairy, sightless, spider-like rodents with large fangs and the ability to mobilize telepathically has nested, colonizing into the hundreds.

Possibly even thousands.

I know this because I’ve shined a flashlight down there and — this is not an exaggeration — I’m pretty sure I saw something move.

It was this thought (along with how I might turn a butane lighter and a can of my wife’s hair spray into a flame thrower) that came to mind last weekend as my son and I stared into the dark opening of our crawl space.

“Is Mom making you go down there?”

“Of course not,” I said. “As man of the house, it’s my duty to do things no one else wants to do.”

My son thought about this a minute. “But Mom tells you what those things are, right?”

“Pretty much,” I said, then dangled my feet over the opening.

“What are you going to DO down there?”

I explained that one of our bathroom outlets wasn’t working, and I thought it was because something had chewed through a wire.

What chewed through it?”

Even at age 14, my son wasn’t ready for the truth, which was that hordes of slobbering, milky-eyed creatures were waiting in the dark, excreting a web-like substance from their bulbous posteriors and communicating with each other telepathically that a 180-lb. Happy Meal was about to be served. So, to preserve my son’s innocence, I made something up.

“Probably a squirrel did it,” I said.

His expression relaxed as he handed me the flashlight, then offered a final piece of advice. “If a squirrel lets you pet him, he probably has rabies.”

“Good tip,” I said and eased down into the crawl space.

Moving on my hands and knees toward our bathroom, it wasn’t long before I had passed the point of no return. This, of course, is when my flashlight decided to blink out. Throttling it with both hands, I shook it back to life just long enough to illuminate the area above me — including a dead squirrel dangling from an electrical wire by its teeth.

Sure, in retrospect, attempting to defuse the situation by screaming uncontrollably may not have been the “manly” thing to do. However, I credit that mind-numbing howl with scaring off the spider-rodent creatures long enough for me to dislodge the squirrel and repair the exposed wire. Unfortunately, in all the commotion, I also dropped my wife’s hair spray — which means I’ll have to go back.

But only if she makes me.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist for News Media Corporation. You can write to him at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)

Published by

Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

41 thoughts on “Your home’s underbelly is no place to be manly”

  1. …this is still making me smile…i am afraid i would have simply dry walled over the non working bathroom outlet, puttied and painted and pretended it never existed rather than go into the dark crawl space.good job at pretending to be a grown up!

    1. Lol! I love your approach 🙂 Funny thing is, I spent hours in that crawlspace running wire when we were remodeling several years ago. But going back under was like the movie “After Earth.” There was no telling what creatures had evolved. The fact that there were no rats made it more creepy instead of less creepy — because something made them disappear!

      And thanks — I can be a grown-up when I have to be!

  2. Crawl spaces are really pretty creepy. I’m sure your son will forever be haunted by the sound of the scream you screamed at the sight of the dead squirrel, but hey, turns out you weren’t lying to him after all.

      1. Hey, you went down there, scream or not, that’s got to re-up the level of manliness. My ex never would pass the threshold of the crawl space door. I had to do it, but I bug-bombed the hell out of that space and laid painter’s plastic over the dirt to make it bearable, but then we only had crickets and spiders, no telepathic rodents.

          1. And with weapons of mass destruction. Nothing was going to survive my attack on the creatures of the house’s underbelly.

          1. Well, see, now you’ve gone and out’ed yourself. I take a zero-tolerance approach with my own personal typos and I go in and edit them and make it like they were never there. Kind of like I did the bugs in the crawl space.

  3. LOL.. Love it! I prefer to just live in houses where it’s not necessary.
    That’s my safeguard.

    We have enough Huntsman spiders with Drumstick legs walking around brazingly inside during daylight hours to dare venture into any small dark places.

    *shivers thinking about it*


    1. Ha! That’s an excellent plan. When I lived in Atlanta, I saw a wolf spider run along the side of my house when I came home one night. It was so big, I could hear him moving along the bark chips. Aghhh!

      Still creeps me out. And your description of spiders with “drumstick legs” didn’t help!

  4. So you skipped the barbecue sauce for the squirrel ? Next time take along Andrew Zimmer, you even had the hair spray to jump start the barbecue ! Afterwards you could have had the whole gang over from the station house….. and she who must be obeyed would pause thoughtfully before making you do anything ever again.

  5. And here I thought I had it bad. Sure I still have to do laundry and mop floors, but there’s NO way I’d ever crawl underneath the house. There’s also no way I’m learning to change a tire.

  6. this is an excellent tale ned, i love the shrieking as well as your son’s realist approach to how the family works. and please send the twister cats my way, as i would love to take them on in my family and friends annual twister-off competition.

  7. One advantage to living in a house with a basement and attic – you can see all the hairy multi-legged things before they see you. Disadvantage – you also get bats and wasp nests

  8. Very funny! We don’t have a crawl space – or a cellar, scary basement or poorly lit attic. We don’t need them, as I discovered today. Thanks to my amazing efforts at housework for most of the year, when I finally got round to cleaning the corners of the lounge today I found cobwebs thick enough to make a hammock out of and a Tyrannosaurus Spider poised to attack.
    Said spider is currently breaking it’s way out of the Dyson on it’s way to maul me in my sleep tonight.

No one is watching, I swear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s