I used to be terrified of spiders. As it turns out, living in your worst nightmare actually dulls your fears quite a bit. When we moved into our current residence, a 1917 brick farmhouse on the edge of our village (and yes, it's really a village, and yes, I often am gripped with the desire to call out, "Bonjour! Good day! How is your family?" while I'm walking my kids to school because of this fact), I thought, "Aha, good brick house, Michigan basement, nice barn with eaves for the spiders to play in. I bet we won't see a single one in the house."
Then, one day, when I had a rare afternoon to myself to make the house look lovely, I lit some candles, made myself a pot of tea, and settled onto my comfy couch to watch North and South and lust over Richard Armitage. Unfortunately, this little fellow had something of the same idea:
Keep in mind, that's not a doll-house sized spoon. It's not even an average American household teaspoon. It's of the larger "tablespoon" variety. Remember that scene in The Princess Bride, where Humperdink puts The Machine on full power and Wesley screams so loud and so long the entire kingdom hears it? And Inigo Montoya is like, "That is the sound of ultimate suffering?" That is pretty much the exact sound I made as I leapt from the couch and barricaded myself in my office.
I figured this spider was so freakishly huge, it had to be a one-time deal. I live in the United States, and while I have no hard numbers on the subject, jingoistic American pride gives me a hunch that we lead in spider poison technology. We bombed the house for good measure, and that was the end of it.
No, it wasn't. Who the fuck am I kidding? A few days after the bombing, I had this encounter:
Again, not a Barbie cigarette lighter. Do they even make those? I hope not. That would be just awful, if they did. I would be writing some letters. No, that's my lighter, which I keep in the bathroom because I occasionally like to smoke in the shower, and the click-style lighters are the only ones who will light with water flying everywhere.
I'm a complicated and enigmatic figure, okay?
The terror didn't stop there:
Now, just in case you think that this is the same spider, and it's a pet of mine, and I pose him for these photos, I can assure you that you're a fucking lunatic. Who in their right mind would keep one of these in their house willingly? Look at the size of it! Even my KISS lighter is scared. And it has the power of rock on its side.
At least they weren't all absolutely huge. This guy was small enough to ride on a quarter:
Oh, shit, wait. That's not a quarter. For those of you unfamiliar with American currency, that is a fifty cent piece. That's 30.6 mm in diameter. No, that spider is still way too big to live in my house.
Soon, spider photography became a sick obsession for me. I don't know why I feel compelled to document every freakish Chernobyl accident victim spider in my house, but I started almost looking forward to the next spider sighting. I tried to keep a prop on me at all times, so I could document their relative size, but sometimes they got into tricky spots. Like the edge of this very beaten up wooden cupboard in my kitchen:
That's the fearless hand of my three-year-old daughter. We thought it would be funny to name her Wednesday Addams. I'm convinced that the ancient power of names and associations are what resulted in a preschooler who finds these arachnid invaders "adorable." She has been known to "play" with them, letting them run over her hands and petting them until they bite her or escape. Many people who have seen these pictures have insisted they are brown recluse spiders, but we believe they are either Wolf or Nursery spiders, as their bites have never proven venomous.
But even if they're not poisonous, they are still creepy. And busy. Every morning when I go into the bathroom, it's like I'm busting through the nightmare tape at the finish line of an eight-legged marathon from hell. Have you ever actually tasted spider web? I have. Because I have accidentally gotten that large a quantity of spiderweb in my fucking mouth. I no longer stagger, yawning, into my bathroom.
Now, for a while I had reached this place of zen about spiders. I would occasionally high-five them when I found them, and I'd point finger guns at them and say, in a "I'm just kidding around, pal," kind of way, "Okay, don't crawl on me, or I'll fucking kill you!" But I meant it. And I'm pretty sure they knew it, because they upped their game considerably. Doing things like hanging suspended just above the light switches in darkened bathrooms:
"Go ahead, flip on the lights over the vanity. I dare you," he seems to be saying. "You were gonna pluck your eyebrows, but I have a feeling you're starting to dig the natural look."
Then this morning I saw something that rekindled my mortal dread of spiders. I went into the laundry room, where I saw this:
That is the spider's size in relation to a full grown cat. Sure, it's a big spider. That's pretty gross. But that's not the worst part. The worst part was what I didn't capture on my cell phone's grainy 1970's porno quality camera. The worst part was that spider?
Was eating cat food.