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the shed

Some old memories have stirred up within me watching specific episodes of Hoarders, one of which is The Shed.

I don't like sheds. Actually, it would be correct to say I don't like old sheds because they creep me out somewhat.

Growing up, I saw a lot of sheds. My father had one and all my friend's fathers had them also. While it's true today you can buy a shed prebuilt and just drop it in the backyard, that's not the way it worked back in the day, as you had to build it yourself either from a kit, a plan or just whatever you thought would make a good structure.

Old New Englander sheds all have two things in common, mice and spiders - and this is why I don't like them.

Field mice are harmless little things and don't bother me; most people consider them cute. And yeah, they are. When you see a little gray or brown/white fluffy ball of fur with beady little eyes squeaking around, it's not something you feel endangered by. Cats routinely catch field mice and of course like to drop them off on your doorstep to show off their disgusting dead mangled prize with pride. Could be worse, I guess.

When it comes to spiders that hang out in sheds, it depends on the species as to whether they freak me out or not.

If it's a daddy longlegs, those are fine. Yes, they bite, but their mouths are so small they could barely take a chunk of skin (we're talking less-than-a-pinhead size here), and furthermore don't want to by anywhere near you. And believe me, you'd actually have to try to get a longlegs to bite you, as in literally pushing his head right against your skin to actually make it happen. Otherwise, even if he landed on you, the first thing he'd do is scurry off.

If it's a grass spider, I frickin' hate those things as they're striped black death jesters as far as I'm concerned and are pure evil. They are wicked fast, so if you see one sitting there, whatever you grab to squash it with must make contact on the first hit, because if it doesn't, it's very likely you won't get another chance. Compared to a daddy longlegs, a grass spider will mess you up if it bites you. If it gets its toxins in your skin, you'll probably have to go to the E/R and you'll be numb where it bit for a few days. The one you normally run across is the male that has a very pronounced stripe and is close to an inch long; you absolutely do not try to shoo it away because a grass spider always goes exactly where you don't want it to, so it's pointless to even try. Squash or run; those are your two options.

The deadliest as far as what you'd find in a shed is the brown recluse. The interesting part is that this spider really doesn't look that intimidating as they don't look anywhere near as evil as a grass spider does. They're smaller and could even be considered cute, but - and this is a big but - you absolutely do not antagonize these guys. It's called a recluse because it pretty much stays to itself, so if you don't mess with it, it won't mess with you. But if you get a bite from one of these guys, no question, you're going to E/R and fast. It's rare you'd get a bite because the brown recluse has to be in direct contact with your skin and pretty much squashed against it to get a bite in there, however they can go on the offensive if they feel threatened enough. In other words, if you see brown, get the hell away from it unless you can squash the bugger easily without touching it.

What happens if you get bit by a recluse? Either nothing, or necrosis. The necrosis can stretch several inches long from a brown recluse spider bite and looks like something straight out of a horror movie.

Gray-and-Rotted or Red-and-Rusted

When a man was constructing his shed back in the day, very few ever used proper building materials. Instead they bought whatever was dirt cheap that would get the job done. If it was steel, it was flimsy and dented easily. If it was wood, many guys used junk wood because they didn't want to use 'the good stuff' on a shed; this is why there are so many sheds with odd-shaped pieces, knots where there shouldn't be knots and so on.

Steel sheds, often called coops, used either plain untreated steel or steel painted white. Either way, the thing was completely covered with surface rust in less than two seasons. After a few more seasons the rust would start eating through. In true redneck tradition, the "fix" was to simply place another piece over the one that had the rust hole in it, and this is why you see steel sheds that have that one part that's a different color. It's not for looks, it's a haphazard "patch".

Wood sheds usually turn from wood-colored to gray, and sometimes almost to the point of being white. I guess the best way to describe the color would be bone-colored. When wood gets that old, it starts to curve inward and the roof caves slightly. The front door's hinges fall right out because the wood won't hold the nails anymore, so that door is usually removed.

Guys who owned sheds like this were crusty old men, going by the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Oh trust me, I could break it. I could knock the whole thing down with one swift kick, meaning the stupid thing is broken as far as I'm concerned.

The Shed is something that's slowly but surely going away given the fact men who buy them usually go with prebuilt these days, because seriously, why would you bother building it when you can just plunk down a few grand and have delivered a 100% operational ready-to-rock shed that day?

I won't miss The Shed for anyone that has one. They're poorly-constructed, mice-and-spider infested things that fall apart easily. Newer is definitely better here.

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