Columns

2012.02.15 Dark, hairy and coming my way

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

Do you always check for spiders when you get into the shower?

I never do, well...now I do. It’s something new.

I got into the shower Friday morning and before long noticed a spider on the floor of the stall. That in itself isn’t all that unusual. Every so often I see a spider in the shower. That seems to be a popular spot for them.

In fact, I think it was Thursday morning that I saw a small daddy longlegs in the shower. I don’t pay much attention to them, especially one this small.

But what I saw Friday morning trying to make its way through the heavy downpour of the shower was no daddy longlegs. The legs were shorter, the body was bigger.

It was dark and hairy looking. Menacing. The sort of spider with an appearance that says, “I will bite you.”

Because it seemed to be giving that message, I took notice of it crawling toward my feet. I quickly stepped to the other side of the drain. It turned and started toward my feet again. I did another little dance step back to the other side. It turned and came toward my feet. 

I couldn’t blame it for trying to save itself from the deluge. Finally, it was just too much for the poor fellow. It tucked in its legs and formed a ball to ride out the storm.

Very interesting, I thought. When I wrote the story a few weeks ago about Rick Davis and his rafting adventure in West Virginia, I learned that when you’re thrown from the raft, the best way to save yourself is to roll into a ball and ride it out. Let the river take you where it will; otherwise you could get flattened out against a big boulder and drown.

That’s what was happening to the spider since it couldn’t reach the safety of my feet.

I looked around the shower and grabbed a plastic container that we use to rinse soap suds off the wall. Then I grabbed a toothbrush. Do I have to explain everything? That’s what we use to clean out the tight spots. In the shower stall tile.

So I pushed the spider into the container, opened the door and tossed it onto the rug. I figured it would crawl away and maybe my wife would find it later.

The container hit the rug, bounced and landed upright, with the spider trapped at the bottom.

When I was finished in the bathroom, I picked up the container and glanced inside. I didn’t get too close because it might have been one of those jumping spiders that can launch itself onto its prey.

An urban legend? No, I saw it happen. We were at Chris and Eric Wood’s house 20 years ago and a spider jumped at Ben and bit him on the hand. It was dark and hairy-looking.

I took my prize to the kitchen, placed an envelope over the top, left it on the kitchen table and went to work.

Three hours later I thought about the spider and sent this e-mail home to Colleen. “There’s a plastic container on the kitchen table covered with an envelope. Do not open it.”

This was a warning, but also a challenge. I wondered if curiosity would get the best of her and she would take a careful glimpse inside. Ahhh! Jumping spider on the nose.

No need to worry. She didn’t peek and besides, when I got home from work I found what appeared to be a dead spider in the container. I guess it succumbed from too much water.

I said that it’s dead, but I’m really not sure. Just because it hasn’t moved in the past 36 hours doesn’t mean that it won’t dry out and make a miraculous recovery. After all, I just dumped it out onto the envelope to take a close look and the legs are still pliable. I’m keeping an eye on it while I type.

Another day has passed and the legs are contracting and folding into the body. I can see that it’s not so hairy at all. Wait...a magnifying glass shows plenty of hairs, especially on the legs.

The joints where the legs connect are bulbous and shiny. It’s handsomely decorated on the bottom. A huge mouth. A wonderful pair of palps or feelers in front. I can’t quite make out the eye pattern. It’s quite an amazing little engine.

And it really doesn’t seem dead. When I move it, it flops around like it’s just asleep. My eyes are playing tricks. I detect movement. Where’s that envelope?

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