When I see a spider in my apartment, if I’m not propelled out the front door like a two-year-old visiting Santa Claus for the first time, I smash it.
It’s not the daddy longlegs that are scary; it’s the haven’t-shaved-the-legs in four months type. I was once evacuated for seven hours until a boyfriend could hunt down and kill the spider barricaded in my living room.
it doens't matter that I think of myself as a compassionate animal-lover. Squash! it doesn't matter that I know this is a completely irrational fear. Smush! Note: sturdy flip-flops work best.
Over the past two months, spiders have crawled up the drain and into my bathtub. I found one in my kitchen sink.
It happened again yesterday. I reached over the tub’s edge to turn on the water for a shower – something moved. I jumped back and collapsed onto my toilet.
“C’mon, enough already!” I yelled.
And I thought of the quote I read on One Moment One Life from Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron: “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know."
“Okay, fine, what-EV-ER!” I screamed at the black spider eye-balling me from my beige, steel tub.
I belly-breathed. Twice. And I thought of how Tosha Silver told a spider on her ceiling how scared she was of it.
“Ok, spider, I’m really, really freaked out right now, but hey, you must be too, so help me out and we’ll get you outside, okay?” I said.
Not bad. I felt only 83% silly.
I grabbed the lid off a cardboard box and held it close. The spider side-stepped into the box and sprinted for my hand holding the opposite corner.
“Shit, shit, shit!” I said as I dropped the lid into the tub.
I grabbed at my constricting chest but I was already naked -- physically and emotionally -- in this battle with my 8-legged component. I put on my white, polka-dotted pajamas.
And a pair of pink plaid rubber boots.
I peered over the edge of the tub and saw him (he’s a him now?) hunkered in the back corner. Waiting. Waiting for the right moment to grab the machete from under his furry cloak and --
"Yeah? Well, me too!" I said.
Is the outside door open? Check. Hey, it’s raining outside. Why don’t I just smash him then? I’ll just grab my flip--
Where is he? I lift the lid an inch. He’s not in the tub, so he must be on the underside of the lid, crawling stealth, like a balaclava-wearing SWAT team member, going in for the atta-- I drop the lid. When I look back through squinty eyes, he was strutting in plain-view down the middle of the lid.
I let out a low scream that sounded like the first ten seconds of a 1950’s ambulance siren, and slapped a hand over my mouth.
All I know is that I cannot drop the box lid before I get outside. At least in the tub, he’s contained but on my laminate floors, he could disappear and come out later, when I’m in bed, crawl across my body, up into my hair and --
Okay, let’s practice. Can I lift the cardboard lid and hold it without him running around? Him, again? Alright, name him then. The Who’s “Boris the Spider”? Too ominous. I need a warm and fuzzy name.
This is the nickname my sister uses for her fearful rottweiler/shepherd when he growls at other dogs. It projects innocence and helps calm the situation.
“Okay, spider, I mean, Boo-Boo Kitty. I know you’re scared of me, so let’s work together to get you outside, okay Boo-Boo Kitty?”
Like a well-trained dog, he climbs up over the edge on the far side. It’s those damn legs. A black bug of the same size would be easier (I think). But this guy’s legs are already bent and spring-loaded.
I know fears get worse with time. I should just grab the box lid and run outside.
Okay, go! Go!
I need something for distance, to grab the box.
A pair of tongs!
I searched my cutlery drawer, my office desk, my bedroom closet and my sock drawer. No tongs. I’m committed to getting this spider outside and needed to think outside the box. Literally.
A fine mesh strainer? Nope, when it lays flat there is an escape gap. A mason jar? Nope, I’d have to be too close to get the lid on. Can I lure Boo-Boo Kitty with a treat -- Raisins? Sunflower seeds? Honey?
He’s contained in my bathtub, I have time to think. Wait. Contained? Slippery tub? Yes! A plastic storage bin! I grabbed one and dumped the contents onto my couch.
As my heart thumped, I kicked the cardboard lid with my boot. Nothing. I flipped the cardboard lid with a pen and it landed flat. Did I squash him? Has he gone back down the drain?
There he is!! There he is!! On the corner of the lid!!
I grabbed the lid on the opposite side and banged it on the tub. He fell off and ran to the back of the tub. I threw the lid into the hallway.
I was on a roll.
I grabbed the plastic bin, and held it up against his body. He tried to run. I think I broke his leg. It was flat and long -- uncoiled.
“So sorry, Boo-Boo Kitty.” I whispered. Our heartbeats slowed. We held our breath. And waited.
He stepped backwards onto the corner of the plastic bin. I tapped the the bin and he slid to the bottom. I snapped the lid shut, carried him through my apartment, out to the deck, opened the lid, turned it upside down and released the spider.
“Thanks for the lesson,” I said as I closed my patio door.
And locked it.
Photo by David-O
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