Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Doing Battle

I don't typically have a problem with spiders. That's not to say that I would be thrilled to lie down in a box full of them, or eat a handful, or have one as a pet. But unless one lands unexpectedly on my person, they don't frighten me.

It's my job to kill any spiders that need killing. My first rule of spider capital punishment is that it's only in effect inside the house. Outside, that's spider murder. Inside, it's a just punishment for trespassing. However, not all spiders are subject to the harsh rule of my shoe. Just the really freaking creepy ones or the unusually large ones or the ones who look like biters.

The spiders who survive my arachnid-pogrom are the ones who are non-threatening looking or who have the good sense to stay out of the house. I never kill the very cool spiders that are thin, non-threatening, and tend to set up shop in corners where they flex their legs and drop their bodies down in a configuration that reminds me of a Japanese lantern. (Sadly, I don't know what they are called.) Then we have some gnarly ones that hang out in the garden, but since they don't come in the house, they're cool with me.

This morning, I was trudging around the kitchen, getting my lunch ready. I put a bag of peppers in the sink and turned on the water to get ready to wash them. Before starting, I turned around and got a knife and a towel so I'd be ready to dry and cut the peppers as well. As I went to take a pepper out of the bag, I saw a flash of movement from behind the bag.

It was the biggest, ugliest spider I've ever seen. The body was as big as my pinky. Including his leg span, he was at least the size of my palm. The worst thing about him, besides the size, was that he looked like he was covered in felt.

He was similar to the spiders we sometimes get in the hallway, usually in the net curtains. My suspicion is that they live in the Wisteria bush and come in through the mail slot. But the guy who was hanging out in the sink, ruining my day, was twice as big as the ones I've seen before. He gave me the willies and I didn't know how best to kill him.

When I catch one of these bad boys in the net curtains, it's a two step process. I use my hurl to sweep them off the curtain and then stomp on them with my jackboot of oppression. OK, I don't really have jackboots. I just crush them with my well-worn runners.

The problem this morning is that the spider was in the sink and I couldn't very well stomp my foot into the sink. Plus, I was in my socks and I didn't want to turn my back on him for a second. The water and the steep sides of the sink was keeping him pretty well contained, but he looked like he could be a jumper.

I watched him as he puzzled out his options for escape, his long legs carrying him sideways around the sink. I was transfixed by his sheer creepiness. He was so big – I didn't want to come any closer to him than absolutely necessary. Plus, since he'd come from behind the bag of peppers, I was wondering if he'd hitched a ride from the grocery store and was some sort of exotic world-traveling spider. In the interest of science, should I capture him alive and get him identified?

In the end, I decided to forget about science and just get that intruder out of the sink as expeditiously as possible. I steeled myself, wadded up a paper towel and pounced on him, crushing his scary body. I pressed down on him the way you'd press down on a serious wound to stop the bleeding. I crushed and pressed and moved around to make sure I was really getting him. It was like crushing a mouse – I could feel his body under the paper towel and I was so not happy to have only a few folds of two-ply paper product between me and him.

In the end, I emerged victorious, if a little mentally and emotionally scarred. No one wants to start the morning doing battle with a messenger of Satan. My mood did not improve when I passed a dead rat on the way to the bus stop. Luckily, I rallied at work, sharing the story of my brave fight.

This evening, we were doing a bit of grocery shopping and we found an odd product. It was an apple tart and it was labeled as “Halloween Spooky Apple Tart.” The only difference between the “Spooky” and the bog-standard apple tart was that the Spooky was covered in sugar.

Me: “So, what makes this tart spooky then?”
Peter: “Well, it's covered in sugar. If you gave this to kids, it could get scary.”
Me: “Yeah, but there's a difference between spooky and scary. Ghosts are spooky. Spiders are scary.”
Peter: “What about a ghost spider?”
Me: “That would just be plain evil.”

Now, it's time for me to go to bed and I sincerely hope that I am not haunted by the ghost of my vanquished foe.

PS – I just did a bit of searching and it seems like these spiders are very common, especially as home invaders at this time of year. And my reaction to them also seems to be quite common/

10 Comments:

At 20 September 2006 at 01:20, Blogger Career Guy said...

Have you heard of the movie, "The Ant Bully"? Ants turn the tables on a kid who stomps insects. It changed Max's outlook on bugs. You need to get one of his bug kits for scientific collection. They give you a neat thing that looks like scissors but with half cup bulbs on the ends so you can scoop up errant arachnids for later study. Or--you could just squish them and watch their guts shoot out onto the floor.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 08:53, Blogger Fence said...

Common in NI, not down here, surely not! Cause I tend to use the hoover when dealing with home invaders, but that sounds too large for the "tube of death" to dispose of.

Also, quoted

 
At 20 September 2006 at 11:36, Anonymous NineMoons said...

Dear God, that link to the NI spiders is HORRIBLE. I've never seen a spider like that, and I grew up with a big garden and fields and everything. Bleccch. Nowadays I live in a fifth floor apartment where there are virtually no insects or arachnids. I never kill them unless I can't do anything else about them. I just grab them in a jar and chuck em out the window. It's bad luck to kill a spider but probably not to allow them to be eaten by a bird! I don't use Fence's method because (a) dragging out the hoover is too much effort and (b) I always reckon they'd just breed in the hoover bag and when I went to change it, a hundred spiders would come running out all over my hands and face. Which I wouldn't like.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 12:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait!

You don't have jackboots??!!

 
At 20 September 2006 at 13:46, Blogger Shane said...

Max had a nightmare one night that 2 foot tall spiders were in his room who had knives for feet. He talked about those for days afterward.

By the way, the only spiders that can jump are very, very small. They're even a little cute. And so the furthest they can jump is just an inch or two.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 13:50, Blogger Shane said...

One more thing -- because Max learned to respect bugs and spiders, I capture home invaders and re-release them into the wild. There was a cricket we gave to the neighbor's cat. But that was just a lesson in Darwinism.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 14:25, Blogger Arbusto said...

I did not need to read this first thing in the morning.

I hate spiders. I always get freaked out for a week after watching Arachnaphobia, a movie with which I have a morbid fascination.

I could never have crushed him. I probably would died since I would have been frozen and he'd jump up and bite me in the face and I'd get spider poison and turn into a spider. I'm so sad.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 15:43, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

That is one ugly spider.

 
At 20 September 2006 at 21:57, Blogger Col said...

Ew. I admire your fortitude. I am not the bug smoosher in our house.

 
At 22 September 2006 at 06:01, Blogger -Ann said...

Dad - I'm sure you didn't mean to, but your comment made me run a short film in my head. "The Spider Bully" Shudder!

Fence - I'm afraid that they're down here as well. Thanks for the quote though, that's made it all worth while.

NM - Yeah, I used to be worried about bad luck from killing a spider, but a couple of spider bites got me over that one. I thought Fence's disposal method was ingenious until you pointed out the potential flaw.

TWL - Sad but true - my feet are too small and I'm too short to join the Free Clothes Association to get a pair.

Shane - Don't feed that kid cheese before bedtime! His nightmare is enough to give me nightmares. I'm all about Wild Kingdom and dawrinism though.

Arbusto - Does Brook kill spiders for you? That should be your number one criteria for a girlfriend.

Jack - Yep. Scary too!

Col - Thanks. Drowning often works too though, if you're ever in the situation where you have an ugly one in the sink and A's not around.

 

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