Monday, January 11, 2010


Two nights ago I was awakened by a phone call from my son. I turned on the bedside light, and in the middle of our conversation I saw a HUGE black spider climbing down the wall right by the lamp. Its body must have been an inch long, and its total diameter was about the size of a half dollar coin. I could see all of its body parts, including a huge well-formed mouth:

Life size.
This was not the spider I saw, but looks like it.

Like many people, I have a long-standing fear of spiders. This one was no exception.

My host had told me about the machete in the corner for killing bugs when I checked in.

“Must be big bugs,” I had replied. Now I know why.

Bedside machete - everyone should have one.

I grabbed the machete and attempted to hack the spider with the blade. Unfortunately this swipe missed and the tip of the blade hit the wall near Mr. Arachnid*. He scurried across the wall to hide behind the headboard.

I wasn’t about to pull the king-size bed away from the wall just to find him. If and when that happened, I would try to take him outside unharmed, using the trick of putting a drinking glass over him and then sliding paper under the glass.

Two nights passed with no more sightings.…here…somewhere.

It was difficult to fall asleep with the frequent sensations of something crawling on my skin. (There is a medical name for this: formication, from the Latin “formica” for ants. Don’t you love it? And you thought Formica® was just a countertop covering.)

This morning I decided to move some dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom, and there he was. He ran out of the towels just long enough for me to spot him, then disappeared again inside the pile. He doesn’t want a confrontation any more than I do.

After some thought, I decided the best way to get him outside would be to carry the whole pile of towels, and then gently shake them one by one over the grass. I did this and: no spider.

I decided to have another look at the towels, and there he was. It took quite a bit of persuasion to get him to leave the safety of the towel for the grass.

I went back inside with a great sense of relief and decided to make the bed.  But when I pulled the bedspread off the floor, there was another one! This one was brown, smaller (but still not small by U.S. standards), and missing two legs on one side. She* still managed to get around just fine.

What were they doing, having a convention?

Had they been in here with me the whole time?

That thought made me shudder. I was able to use the drinking glass method to take her outside to join her partner. By then there was no sight of the black one. It would have been reassuring to know where he was.

*Disclaimer: The use of specific genders to identify spiders in no way is meant to associate arachnoid behavior with one gender or the other, and most certainly is not intended to translate to human behavior of that gender. It is merely a device for distinguishing between one spider and another. In case there is a higher arachnoid consciousness that may have been offended by my use of these gendered and/or chromatic terms, I hereby apologize for any prior statement that may have related any specific gender or color to any specific kind of behavior.†

†Adapted from Sen. Harry Reid.

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