It takes manliness to crawl under the house, even if you’re screaming

imageThere 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 Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. This has been an exceprt from his book, Humor at the Speed of Life, available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.comBarnes & Noble or the trunk of Ned’s car!



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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...

65 thoughts on “It takes manliness to crawl under the house, even if you’re screaming”

  1. LOL…I was SURE you were going to tell another missing hamster story! ha ha ha! But ewww that had to be some kind of gross!!! 😛
    My father-in-law would have made squirrel dumplings!! *shivers*

  2. Geez! I have a crawl space! Well, not me in the personal sense…..uh….let me rephrase this. Geez! My house has a crawl space! I only imagined cute little mice sewing clothes for a girl slave, I never thought for a second there might be “hairy, sightless, spider-like rodents with large fangs and the ability to mobilize telepathically” living down there. Thanks for that, NED! :o)

  3. Oh manly man, I bow down. I admire anyone who will venture under the house or in the attic!

        1. It’s funny, I’ll go into a burning building as a firefighter, but dark places with spiders takes all my courage. And don’t evenb get me started on firebreathing spiders…

          1. I am not a fan of spiders, I had a giant banana spider set up housekeeping in my patio…he seemed to have a personality, wore dark glasses, a leather jacket. I let him stay.

  4. Loved this. As a sometimes single parent I’ve just had to suck it up and do stuff that scares me… Because I have to be the parent. If I told my kid what I was afraid of it would definitely increase his future therapy bills.
    Best part is conquering those fears is a good thing 🙂
    But dating still scares me, as you know!


  5. My house has both a basement and a crawl space. The crawl space is under the kitchen extension, and I’ve never been in there – although I did take a flashlight and look once. No way would you get me under there (even if I would fit, which I doubt). If the kitchen plumbing goes, I gladly hire a plumber – and then excuse myself to the farthest corner of the house so I don’t hear the screams.

  6. Ahhh, you lads who live where there is no frost and houses don’t have basements – doomed to forever be on your hands and knees chasing cats and spiders and mutated creatures just waiting to eat you. Bwahaha! Not for me – nope, nein, niet, nah, unh unh, not a chance, no way, not gonna happen. And I’m not the only one up here like that. If it doesn’t have a full basement, I ain’t going down there, I’ll hire it out to “crawl space specialists” such as We import workers from Oregon to service our crawl spaces. They are experts. ha! 😀

  7. I have a workaround. I have the house inspected yearly for termites and say, “BTW, if you notice anything else that doesn’t look right, let me know.” This year he noticed standing water. *cough* It was a shower drain leak.

    1. I had one of those once, too. Flopped around in the mud under the house for about an hour fixing the pipe. At least there aren’t any aligators here.

  8. Take my advice, Ned: Break your knee while doing home repairs and the wife will never trust you to do anything around the house again.
    I’m a genius…

  9. Fabulous imagery! I laughed out loud at the vision of your lab being foisted head first into the abyss. I can see it desperately curling its toes into the floor all the while damning the fact that it has no opposable thumbs.

    I hope your vocal chords have recovered. Your nearest Target will be happy to replace that Aqua Net, BTW. 😉

  10. I also live in an apartment. I have the furnace room that others put their stuff in and catch things on fire. I refuse bc creepy and invites fire. My maintenance guys laugh. I bow to your bravery. Someday your son will carry the torch (no pun intended).

  11. Fantastic. No counting the number of times I’ve gone part way under the house or stared for minutes from the opening, backed out and said, “Meh, I’ll just call someone.”

  12. Oh my, this gave me the creepy crawlies!!
    I don’t like to use my “woman card,” but all bets are off when it involves the crawl space. I remember watching my dad (and then my husband) and thinking, “Thank God I’m not the man of the house.”
    That said, it all equals out. The hubs would rather face a mutant rodent than change a dirty diaper.
    It’s why adults get married 😉

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