I hate spiders more than anything else in the entire world. I always used to wonder, when I read the Anne of Green Gables books, what hysterics was. I now know. Show me a spider big enough and I can’t control the panic that rises through my throat. I shudder. I cry. I start speaking in a frantic tone of voice that hardly seems my own, begging anyone around to kill it.
I think the true explanation of why spiders are so revolting lies in the unnatural number of eyes they have. It may also have something to do with the fact that they suck blood and spin sticky rope from their backsides to entrap things for nefarious purposes. I don’t know what web is truly made of, but in my mind it is so disgusting a substance as to be unmentionable. Everything about their habits gives me the shivers.
I’ve heard all the statistics. I know that I’ve probably eaten a few spiders in my sleep. I know that I’m never more than a few feet from a spider at any time. I have learned to deal with spiders a little. Our former apartment was like a house. It was blue stucco, built in the late 1940’s during the wartime housing boom. The foundation was a slab of concrete well surrounded by a vast grassy lawn in both front and back. None of the windows or doors fit tight. Grassy lawn means bugs, and bugs mean spiders. The house was infested. If there was not a black spider sitting in the white bowl of the bathtub in the morning, it was a good day. They collected in corners in all rooms of the house, and killing one meant three would come and take its place as the bug count multiplied. I learned to make due, leave the small ones, and make sure they were not within my line of vision. I didn’t like it, but I could sleep at night.
Part of my aversion probably dated back to the time I studied spiders in third grade. We did a big unit on their life cycle and how different kinds of spiders lived and trapped prey. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember making a Black Widow web out of string. They look different than other webs. The strings are all straight, making a cris-crossing jumble where the spider lives near the top. Then, there are long and thin strings that stretch over the ground that are springy. When something walks along, the strings snap and suck it onto the web. Remembering these few facts from third grade make me able to spot Black Widows easily. I have never been wrong.
We have since moved to an upstairs condo. I have not seen four spiders in year and a half that we’ve lived there. As the one outside our porch light was the only one, and he was far away from me, I decided to let him live. Only one? Much better.
I came out of my house two days ago to see that some kind of spider had made a web on my wheel. My first thought was that I need to drive my car more. And then I realized that all the strands of the web were straight, and there were thin strings stretching from the web to the ground. Yes, I know. There is probably a Black Widow making its home behind my back tire, and I’m not sure what to do about it. So far, two trips on the busy California freeways have not convinced it to move. I know it’s well outside the cab, but I just can’t help feeling that I’ll be bit as I’m driving and cause some horrible accident while the venom takes hold and I perish in a wave of shuddering paralysis.
In reality, I’ll probably just avoid the back of my car until it dies or moves away. If I never actually see the spider I can pretend this isn’t really happening, right?