|This is as bad as it is going to get. Even I couldn't look at a real spider on purpose. I really wanted a pink cartoon spider, but they only come in green and purple, apparently. The green one looked friendlier.|
I'm not overly fond of spiders. I will sometimes shoo them outside if I can. But I will kill them if they persist in breaking the code: they live outside, and I live inside. If they honor that agreement (although of course they are unaware of it), they live.
I figure making that agreement with them lets me smack them with a shoe without feeling like a murderer. I'm just upholding the law, if you will. I'd do the same with Republicans if I thought it would be as easy as getting rid of the bulk of household spiders.
I didn't, by the way, reach my unilateral agreement with arachnidiae without considerable back story.
First, of course, there were the daddy longlegs spiders so prevalent on Long Island, New York, where I spent much of my youth. If you smacked them, they died, but not without their long spindly legs twitching for a couple of minutes while you called DAD! for him to wipe up the disaster.
There was the ever-present danger of a black widow spider showing up and biting you. It had a white hourglass on its underside, we were told. But who was about to pick one up, turn it over, and check? So we just went gingerly about our business, especially when we were playing in the woods, and hoped. (As it turns out, we were told wrong. They have a white hourglass on their backs.)
|Typical woods, Long Island, NY|
My first serious encounter with a spider was on a moonlit night on Sapelo Island, Georgia, when I was 23. My husband was doing geological estuarine research there, so we lived on the island for about 12 weeks. One of those weeks, he had to go to Athens, Ga., to arrange things about his doctoral assistantship. I stayed behind. As it happened, his major professor and his family were also on the island that summer, so they invited me to dinner, since I was going to be alone for a couple of nights. It was kind of them. Sort of. Another geologist was visiting them, a hard-drinking couple we had known in Binghamton. In fact, Don was my husband's major professor for his Masters Degree, and Elizabeth had become a good friend of mine. She held Wednesday morning "tea parties" for faculty and grad student wives, and one was always pretty darn happy afterwards.
The new professor's wife, Sharon, was a teetotaler, volubly proselytizing the evils of drink, except at barbecues in the dunes at which point excessive amounts of beer--I've been told--were non-alcoholic. Must have been; she drank A LOT of it.
|Dunes, Sapelo Island, Georgia|
I knew about Sharon's unfortunate affliction, the one that caused her to get loopy in the sand dunes but not in houses, but didn't tell Elizabeth. It wouldn't have mattered; Elizabeth was a force of nature, and I was keen to see the show.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth had presented the gift before I arrived, so I missed the fun.
But the God of Spiders delivered the karma for my evil ways a bit later.
On my way home, with nothing but moonlight to guide me beneath the huge oaks all eerily hung with Spanish moss, I came face to face with a spider in a web. The thing must have been five inches across, and it was almost on my face. I suppose I screamed. No one would have heard me. The professors were in their neat little row of brick houses with the air conditioning on; the grad students were in their horrid row of trailers next to the marsh with their air conditioning on.
|Typical Sapelo home, trees with Spanish moss|
Fifteen years later, with a new husband, I moved into a house in Delray Beach, Florida. I volunteered to do all the unpacking without his help. That accomplished two things: I was spared seeing Mad Max, and he was spared my muttering about what a lousy job the movers/packers had done.
I was about halfway through stowing the kitchen equipment when I opened a deep drawer. There, I swear, was the sister of the Sapelo spider. And she was pregnant. Her egg sack had to be three inches across. I did scream. (Why do we scream when we are alone?) And then I slammed the drawer shut.
|A house similar to ours in Delray Beach. Except ours had a penis tree out front (dee below), which we had removed within a year of buying the house.|
Shit. Dumb. Now it was gone to godknowswhere.
I didn't worry about it too much. Or too long. Because a couple of weeks later, as I was going to draw a bath, there she was. I screamed all right. My husband came running. I sent him back for a shoe, a really big shoe. And I left the room.
I heard the smack of the shoe on enamel, muffled by the squish of that monstrous egg sack. And then I heard my husband's expletives. It seems the little blighters were on the verge of hatching and he had to smack several of them before they got away. Finally, I heard the tap on full and the toilet brush swishing the water toward the drain.
He emerged, and headed for the drinks trolley.
I had to get the scouring powder and remove all sorts of spider blood and body parts from the bathtub.
And then I headed for the drinks trolley, a relaxing bath a distant memory.
Spiders have a lot to answer for in my book.
NOTE: A penis tree in bloom
Copyright 2017, Laura Harrison McBride