I was deep in the middle of some Very Important Business on the computer when I heard Terry sing out ''Gahhh! Uhhh! Uhhh!'' from the other room.
I recognized it as her ''ant voice,'' an odd, syncopated melody in a minor key.
Terry already would be chasing the offending insect with paper towel and possibly a spray bottle. I knew I would be fine to stay put and continue my Very Important Business.
A half hour later, I again heard ''Gahhhh! Uhhh! Uhhh!'' but to a different tune. It was the ''spider voice'' - a bit more allegro and a bit more staccato.
I figured I had time to move the red 7 onto the black 8 before ambling toward the voice. Spiders aren't critical, but they are my job. Terry would be waiting for me with an outstretched paper towel.
The voice reveals much.
When we were kids, we could tell if we were in trouble and how much just by the sound of the our parents' bellows from the back porch.
When we became parents ourselves, we learned our babies' needs by the pitch and timbre of their wails. There's the sleepy cry, the hungry cry, the stubborn cry, the dirty diaper cry and the hurt cry. Knowing which notes are which determines how fast a dad runs and in which direction.
In a curious throwback to our childhood, husbands know if we are in trouble and how much just by the sound of our wives' bellows from the back porch.
The voice is a wonderful instrument that can convey the whole message or paint pictures without the aid of a single word.
Recently, I called an office in Alabama and was connected to sweet-sounding Renee, who spoke in a pleasant lilt with a soothing drawl.
I asked a couple unnecessary questions just to hear her voice for a few more sentences. She spoke southern sunshine and camellia flower petals into a cold and rainy northeastern Ohio day.
''If I'd been single,'' I told my wife, ''I would have asked her out.''
That's how I found out what Terry's ''rat voice'' sounds like.
Back when I was a single guy working at a paper in another town, our morning calls to news sources included one to Annie, a woman of charming and cheery vocal accomplishment. At 7 a.m., her giggle was music to our groggy ears.
We often speculated on what kind of gorgeous creature belonged to such an adorable voice. A 19-year-old, 5-foot-10 swimsuit model with flowing, honey-blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, no doubt.
One day, we decided to find out. We pooled our money and called to invite her to Friendly's for lunch.
We were greeted by a 4-foot-11, 40-ish, plumpish woman with mud-colored hair tied in a knot. She sure wasn't what we were expecting from the voice.
Annie probably didn't notice our confusion. She was too busy staring at a bald guy, a fat guy, a badly bespectacled guy and a grumpy brunette who only came along for the ice cream. None of us looked like the charming voices she'd chatted at for months.
We had a lovely lunch anyway - and then we returned to our phones. Why interrupt the sweet symphony of the ears with the harsh clang of the eyes?
----- Cole cuts a dashing figure in words. To preserve the illusion, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org