Spiders and I have a bit of a non-agression pact going currently. It wasn’t always this way, but then in Australia they’re usually going into the argument a little better equipped.
It started when I was about 8 or 9, and Dad made us a sort of cubby house in the back yard which was essentially a wooden motorcycle crate with 4 corner posts to raise it off the ground, and then we lined the underside with cardboard-box walls to create the requisite fortress. The trouble was, being outdoors and next to a load of trees, it was long before the odd huntsman or two took up residence inside. To an 8 year old the information that these aren’t particularly dangerous takes something of an urgent back seat to the fairly obvious point that it is quite a big, ugly looking spider, and with hairy legs (never a good sign) to boot. Our distinct instructions from Mum & Dad were to “leave them alone and they’ll go away”, which I naturally suspected to be motivated by an idea I had that they thought insect spray was expensive. When faced with this massive arachnopodial foe, casting parental advice to the four winds, we unloaded most of a can of Pea Beau onto this thing, which sat there more or less unaffected other than appearing to be covered in soapy suds. We prodded it with a stick, figuring that surely there was no way it had survived the neurotoxoc onslaught – it sort of scampered off, and left an impression in my mind that spiders were indestructable.
Years later I was sitting at the computer typing up a uni assignment and upon glancing up the other end of the passageway of the back half of our house saw that the huntsman which had previously been sitting on the kitchen window was no longer there, and quickly swept around to see where it might have relocated to. I noticed movement about half way up the corridor – it was that huntsman, and it looked very much to be running towards me. I sat there giggling at the ludicrousness of the idea, and then spotted that it was coming towards me, and had progressed quite some distance. Now concerned, I hesitated. It didn’t. It covered the last few feet of carpet, and then climbed up the leg of the chair towards my arse. By the time my advanced sapien brain had grokked this, let me assure you – the arse was no longer anywhere near the chair. I’m not 100% sure what the thought process was going through its tiny creepy arachnoid mind, but there was no way that fairly ineffectually armed creature was going to make off with an entire human being. But he was prepared to give it a red hot go.
Australian spiders are not only as a rule wildly poisonous – they’re also made of pretty tough stuff. I’ve tonked one pretty hard with the heel of a boot (wielded in the hand), and the spider just sat there staring at me (I figure he must have been, from at least one of those eyes), silently goading me with “Is THAT the best you’ve got, you great nancy?”. Seriously, in that part of the world, it’s kill or be killed. Sort of. Granted, huntsmen don’t generally cause fatality (unless one pops out from under the sun visor in your car when you’re driving along apace and scares 7 shades of shit out of you).
English spiders – from what I’ve seen so far – are a much more amiable genus of invertebrate. They is still real ugly, but they seem to know their limitations and as a result don’t tend so strongly toward home invasion. In five years, I’ve seen 2 spiders in our house – one in my room, and the one I’m about to tell you about.
I’d nipped into the bathroom to brush my teeth & get ready for bed, and noticed that there was a small arachnid perched on the edge of the washbasin. As I stood there it must’ve shot a web strand up to the cabinet somehow (an improbably large distance as far as I could tell), because it set to climbing upwards, but something went awry and it tumbled back to the basin. Another wrong-footing sent it tumbling towards the plughole.
Yes, my spider-sexing skills are limited at best. It’s a lot easier in Australia, because you can easily spot the boy ones – you can normally see their gonads from about 3 metres away. Did I mention how big spiders are there?
Sensing that it wasn’t going to try to climb up my toothbrush at an opportune moment and try to paralyse me to be saved for a later snack, I employed the services of a nearby comb to pick it up and reposition it on the basin, and went to bed.
The next morning I was slightly disappointed to see a little 8-legged carcass floating in the toilet bowl.
The little thing had made it all the way across from the basin, and fallen to its doom in the bog. What happened? I guess we’ll never know... Maybe it was suicidal. Maybe it was drunk. Maybe it was swinging its way across the expansive chamber Tarzan-style, and caught a glimpse of its own reflection in the cool clear waters from one of its many eyes.
That’s probably what happened. We had a narcissistic spider.
(there’s no photo, because for starters taking pictures of suicide scenes is weird, and secondly – it’s our bog, innit. You’re better off not knowing.)
It’s a shame the intro was so long, and then the actual story went nowhere. Oh well, you people know what you’re getting by now I guess.