Many moons ago, on an unforgettable Ground Hog Day, the early morning temperature on Marco Island was a cold and frosty 29 degrees. Long glistening icicles were hanging from the beach showers, and even with the clear morning sunshine very bright over the crescent beach, the Gulf of Mexico appeared cruel and taunting. On the horizon, the distant groundswell appeared as elephants marching between the sea and the sky, and closer to shore, the gray waves became breakers of white surf before pounding into a misty spray that fogged the beach.
As the chilling day progressed, and as a rising gale-force winter wind began transforming the gulf into a scene from a storm in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Marco Beach Boys realized we had better be ready for anything. By early afternoon, the onshore wind was a howling monster coming in from the northwest, but along with the bone-chilling spray came a single young lady walking the beach amongst the swirling sand and flying spindrift.
The young woman’s name was Katrina, and she was ready to seek shelter from the wind in our beach hut. We soon discovered Katrina was a psychology student from Hamburg, Germany. She was blonde and beautiful, and after only a few minutes, we learned she was on vacation but not ready to accept the Marco Beach Boys invitation for beer after work until she tested our personalities with what she called “Die Spinne”, or “The Spider”, in German.
We were baffled until Katrina explained with her exotic accent: “This will be an interesting exercise for everyone,” she promised. She then asked for our cooperation.
“Everyone will please close their eyes as I tell a story. During the story, I will relate several scenarios that I want everyone to remember. When I finish the story, you will open your eyes and we will soon learn what is in your heart and what type of persons you really are. Please tell the truth as I proceed through the story, otherwise The Spider will not work, and you will feel foolish.”
At once, the Beach Boys were bewitched and memorized by this exotic temptress who arrived with the winter gale. After a moment, we all agreed and closed our eyes as Katrina started our imaginary journey.
“Imagine,” Katrina began, “that you are walking in a forest. What kind of trees are there in your forest? What kind of day is it in the forest? Can you see the sun? Is it easy to walk or are there obstructions and obstacles?”
“You continue walking through your forest,” Katrina says, “when suddenly you come upon a body of water. What kind of water is it? A brook, a lake, a spring? What type of water is it? What do you do at the water?”
Katrina continues. “Next on the walk in your forest, you discover a key on the ground. What type of key is it? Large? Small? Old or new? What do you do with the key?”
“As your forest walk continues,” she says, “you come upon a building. What kind of building is it? Is your building or structure large or small? Is it open or closed? Is it possible to go inside? Do you go inside or avoid the building? What do you do at the building?”
“As your walk through your forest continues, you now come upon a frontier,” Katrina says, “or what in English is a called a border. What kind of border is it? What does it look like on the other side of the border? What kind of day is it on the other side? Can you cross over the border easily or are there obstacles? Do you want to cross or not? Think about the border and remember this, as with all of the previous scenes, what happened to you in your forest.”
Katrina then paused for a moment before she said, “We are finished. Everyone can open your eyes.”
When the Marco Beach Boys obeyed, we would soon discover this psychology student from Germany had opened our eyes like never before.
With the northwest wind still tearing and the waves crashing in the background, Katrina related the meaning of the structured scenario. “The Spider” is a tool used to understand your true inner self, a way to discover your deepest: hopes, fears, loves, and dreams without your conscience knowing what your subconscious is really thinking,” she said.
“Ok, we start at the beginning,” Katrina explained. “The forest simply discovers how you approach and go through life. An open forest with an easy path and sun shining through the treetops is the healthiest scenario. An open forest means you go through life with a carefree attitude. The darker the forest, and the more difficult it is to move through the trees, translates into trouble navigating through everyday life.”
Katrina then paused to evaluate each of the Beach Boys watching her with rapt attention. “The body of water in our story is love,” she continued. “The healthiest possibility for this part of the story is where one takes off their clothes and jumps into a beautiful spring and drinks the water. The smaller the body of water, or if the water is stagnant or unclear, translates into people that have problems finding and accepting love.”
“Next,” Katrina cracked a smile, “is the key that you found on the forest floor as you were walking. The key translates into sex. Most persons with a healthy attitude toward sex find a golden old-fashioned key reflecting the sunlight. They pick it up and many people immediately place the key into a pocket for a later use. As for tiny, dirty, or broken keys that don’t shine …” Katrina shrugged, “I’m sure everyone can imagine how the sex part translates.”
“Next in our forest of life,” our psychologist continued, “is the building. The building represents how we deal with people. If the building is open and if forest travelers go inside their building or structure, this translates into an easygoing approach to meeting strangers or business dealings with the public. A closed building can indicate private persons that have a more challenging and difficult understanding of strangers and the public.
“The final part of our scenario is the frontier or the border. The border is death,” Katrina finalized, and every Beach Boy felt the ripping wind get colder. “The border for almost everyone is where the forest ends, and some type of wall separates the trees and the forest from a beautiful sun-shining meadow waiting on the other side. For some, the border is a low stone wall that can be easily crossed over, or a fence with a gate that can also be easily opened. For others, the border is a high wall that is intimidating and can only be crossed with great difficulty.”
When Katrina finished, the interesting part for the Marco Beach Boys was to learn the meanings of the ramblings and adventures in the fanciful forest.
All of us but one had a forest with big, tall trees, sunshine in the treetops, and an easy path on the pine-needled floor. When we arrived at the water some of us saw fast moving streams with stepping-stones. Another envisioned a big lake. But our one beach boy with the thick and difficult forest stumbled into a mud puddle for his body of water and could not get the mud off his shoes.
The key for almost all of us was a golden old-fashioned key that we picked up and dropped in a pocket. Our Beach Boy with the thick, dark, and difficult forest with the mud puddle for love, found the car key to a Ferrari sports car.
All of us, however, found open buildings that we went inside, but when we came to the final earthly frontier or border, some of us saw the fanciful and beautiful meadow with the sun shining and wheat waving in the wind but about half of us saw a wall we could not cross without difficulty.
Katrina decided as “Test Subjects” we passed her evaluation well enough to meet us for beer after work, but the haunting of “The Spider,” and one of the most chilling weather days and revealing days ever, will remain an unforgettable episode in the Marco Beach Boy Chronicles.
Tom Williams is a Marco Islander. He is the author of two books: Lost and Found and Surrounded by Thunder—the Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men. Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.