It’s amazing how something that fits in the palm of my hand should alter the way I live.
Earlier this summer, I had a run-in with an over-sized, should-only-exist-in-the-Brazilian-rainforest-sized spider in my garage.
I went to get my son’s hockey equipment from his bag, stored just in front of the shelf holding canned goods and paper products, and found him guiltily gripping the inside of the front flap like some hairy eight-legged skyscraper climber who wasn’t supposed to be there and got caught.
I should have known something was amiss when I had to peel away a web that circled around the hockey bag, but my powers of observation aren’t the strongest (I know, for a writer, a dangerous trait – I’m working on it). We both froze, staring at each other, until I gently dropped the flap back in place. I called my husband, who was clicking away on his laptop in the kitchen (which is his workspace- I know, not fair, but we all know life isn’t fair). My call sounded something akin to a strained, on-the-verge-of-hysteria “Honnnneeey?” The last time I beckoned Steve this way, I was getting ready to push a ten pound baby out of me (another horror story).
Concerned, he leaned into the garage. I pointed to the bag with no preamble, and he pulled back the flap. At that point, Spidey figured he’d better get the hell out of sight and scrambled somewhere inside the bag. As I screamed and carried on like a girl, my husband bravely extracted every piece of equipment, in an attempt to locate him.
Minutes later, the empty bag lie like a carcass in the driveway, while Steve kept up his search through the pockets. Between exclamations of size and hairiness, we both agreed it was unbelievable that something could live with the smell. If you’ve never had the unfortunate privilege of whiffing an ice hockey bag, imagine, if you will, the reek of a partially decomposed body covered with molded cheese. We decided since the incredibly offensive odor didn’t kill the guy, it made him bigger, like some unnatural odor-mutation that science has yet to discover.
Ever the supportive wife, I began to chant that my husband really SUCKS at finding spiders until finally, mercifully, he cornered and squashed him. The beast was so large; his milky guts seeped from his body. I ran into the house, grabbed my phone, and took pictures of the victim from several angles, like the forensic photographer I’m not.
I showed the pictures like I was boasting a prize. Check this out..Found it in my house. Check out this guy’s legs. The spider became my version of a big fish, growing in size as I ran into more people. You know how you can enlarge pictures on your phone with your fingers? Well…
Soon, people were talking. Did you hear? Kim had to spear the web before she could get into the bag! The spider was this big! I showed the parents at lacrosse practice, the kids too, then later to my friends at a party, preening over the gasps and flinches, as if I personally went to battle and won the bloody fight.
My husband went back to his typing, but I sensed he was shaken.
Days later, I was still getting text requests to send the pictures, so friends could show their spouses, kids, other friends..
Eventually, the hubbub died down. People resumed their normal activities, and moved on.
Not I. Every step I take into that garage is accompanied by a full visual sweep of the space, and quick steps out the door. When we’re low on toilet paper, I send whoever is closest to get new rolls. Canned goods? Not for my family. We’re eating only fresh now.
I know he has friends. They’re out there, biding their time, just waiting to attack when I least expect it.
Well, it won’t happen. I won’t drop my defenses. I can’t. The hairy thing visits me in my sleep.
I thought by writing this down, I might exorcise my fear.
So far, it hasn’t worked.