I hate spiders.
I hate spiders in a religious inquisition, burn first ask questions later, hunt them all down and make them feel lots and lots of pain sort of way. With a little thinking I can tell you every single movie or television episode I’ve ever seen that had spiders in it – the seventh season of Buffy, the third Lord of the Rings movie, several times in the Harry Potter series, and so on. They give me nightmares and heebie-jeebies and the creepy crawlies if I think about them too much.
Logically, I know that spiders serve a purpose – they keep insect populations down, and make webs, and do other neat spidery stuff. But I also know other facts: that there are twenty-five thousand spiders per square acre, and that a person will eat an average of ten spiders in their lifetime. They have eight eyes and eight legs and shoot their webs from what would be on a person the base of their spine. Spiders are not insects at all – they are arachnids, a higher order in the invertebrate hierarchy – or at least one with larger creatures.
And that’s the problem: larger and more. Sure, a preying mantis can get pretty large, or a june bug might span your hand, but spiders can become larger than your head, with their millions of eyeballs and legions of legs, and those chop choppity pincers and faster-than-Superman sidewise gallop. So I am grateful that I am an owner of cats who like to prey upon these miniature creatures of terror, as they keep the visible count of spiders down to a bare minimum (even if I know the hordes are still there, just out of sight, seething and clacking their creepy little pincers.)
Unfortunately, the cats were not with us tonight. My partner and I had gone out for dinner, and decided to follow it up with dessert at a sweet little place near our house. In the cool darkness of early fall, the cheerful host seated us outside on the very edge of a covered patio. As we began to eat our treats, I noticed something on the edge of my hand – a daddy long legs.
The fact that a daddy long legs is not, technically, a spider and cannot actually bite people is the only thing that saved me from screaming bloody murder then and there. Nevertheless, daddy long legs are close enough in appearance and demeanor that I was sufficiently creeped out to do the Seated Spider Dance. The Seated Spider Dance consists of a series of violent waving motions of the hands in all directions to the counterpoint of arrhythmic bodily jerks and punctuated with the random flailing of one’s head. There is often vocal accompaniment as well to the tune of “ewewewEwwwwwwEWEWEWWWW! Blalalalala-la-lahhhhh. Is it still there? Blalalalaalaaaahh. Ew! Gleah!”
Having finished the Seated Spider Dance, I returned to my meal, laughing ruefully and occasionally running my hand over my head to make sure that the daddy long legs had not remained a passenger on my body. I got perhaps three bites further into my dessert when my partner got a peculiar look on his face and said “Um, Nik? It’s still there.” After ascertaining he wasn’t kidding, I rapidly vacated my chair and engaged in a full rendition of the Leaping Spider Dance, much to the entertainment of everybody else on the patio. Certain I had dislodged my unwelcome passenger, I checked in with my partner – who said the dreaded words: “it’s still there.”
Moving to his side, I suavely asked him to remove the offending creature. “EWWWWW. Get it offgetitoffgetitofffff! Please!” In an effort to assuage my mounting hysteria, he brushed it away, and assured me that he’d gotten it.
Gingerly, I sat back down, now twitching regularly as phantom spiders crawled across the back of my neck… to note a look of consternation settle onto my partner’s face. “Nik. Don’t. Move.” Stealthily as a tiger sighting its prey, my partner grabbed his napkin and advanced on the beastie, which had settled onto my shoulder like an unwelcome mascot. While I endeavored to stay still, he reached out and brushed the daddy long legs away, sending it hurtling into the darkness once and for all. I celebrated by doing a reprise of the Leaping Spider Dance before returning to my dessert.
As we finished up, I commented that I was quite ready to quit myself of the locale. My partner responded that the daddy long legs was long gone, but as I looked down and noticed another spider making its way across the table, I made up my mind to only get desserts to go from here from now on.