I actually quite like spiders. I mean I wouldn’t keep one as a pet, but I acknowledge their assistance in keeping away the mozzies and ants. I share a truce with some Daddy Longlegs that live up in the corner of my lounge. I don’t suck them up with the vacuum cleaner, they eat the pests.
I actually quite like spiders, I had explained to many a house guest. Including one that almost jumped across the front lawn last weekend when a spider appeared on the car door he was about to open.
“Don’t worry, go inside and I’ll get the stuff out the boot,” and I did and it was fine.
I actually quite like spiders, I said.
Until last night.
After a long day at work, I came home to a dark house. I flicked on the light-switch in my bedroom and there, just below the switch, was a huuuge rain spider.
I didn’t scream.
I actually quite like spiders, I repeated to myself. It’s more afraid of me than I am of it. Just keep calm. No, stop shaking. Just get a Tupperware, capture it and let it out in the garden.
I sat back on the bed and stared at it. It stared at me. We stared at each other.
“I actually quite like spiders,” I said to it. “I don’t want to kill you, but I’m afraid I can’t seem to get close enough to you to take you outside. So how about you just leave and we forget this ever happened?”
It continued to stare at me.
I think that’s when I bolted.
I totally did not freak out on Twitter. I might have posted in allcaps. But only once. Okay maybe twice.
Eventually I got myself together, emptied a small bin, put on rubber gloves (just in case) and gingerly approached the bedroom again.
IT WAS GONE.
THE THING WAS GONE.
THE HUGE, GIGANTIC THING THE SIZE OF MY HAND WAS HIDING SOMEWHERE IN MY ROOM OMG.
By this I mean that it probably did as I asked and attempted to leave.
I flung the window open wide, switched off the light and retreated back to the lounge.
Maybe it would see the invitation and flee under the cover of darkness?
I tried very hard to relax but let’s be realistic here, who could possibly relax knowing that that thing was in there and could come in here and crawl all over you while you were watching videos on YouTube? Who?!
I gave myself a pep talk. No, I would not burn the house down and flee, as tempting as this option was (and at least four people on Twitter suggested it). Nor would I hide in the car. Hiding in and later sleeping in the car may have been more tempting had my car not been what my dad calls a “go-cart with a roof” (she’s petite okay!).
I went into the room and began looking for the spider.
In the en suite bathroom there was a leaf on the floor near the window that looked like it might be a spider and I was running for the exit before I even realised that it was foliage. This was not promising.
Deep breaths. I actually quite like spiders. Good guy spider. Just wants to help out with the ants. (Ants are always a problem just before the first rains of the season in Johannesburg). Good guy spider would not hurt me. Good guy spider just wanted to survive this. Much like me. We could sign a peace treaty involving the window.
I slowly began sorting through the everything near the wall where I’d last seen it.
Okay who am I kidding? I made very loud noises and threw stuff across the room in utter panic. I knocked over the lamp. I kicked the bedside table over. This was not my proudest moment.
Then there, behind my framed graduation photo, was a hairy leg. And it moved.
I was out of the room again.
Poor spider, it was just hiding from me and my noise like any decent creature would. I went back in. The hairy leg was still there. I judged the distance from the window to the picture. I could pick up the picture and hold it calmly by the window until the spider crawled off. That wouldn’t be so hard.
“I am strong, I am independent,” (went my inner dialogue). I can do this. It’s not so hard. Pick up the picture.
“But the hairy legs! So many of them!”
“Pick up the picture!”
“It might panic and crawl all over me!”
“Pick. Up. The. Picture.”
“What if it bites me! Female rain spiders can be aggressive, Wikipedia said.”
“Do it now!”
I moved a hand towards it, “I’m doing it! No… no I’m not.”
“For goodness sakes. It’s a spider! Yes it’s actually too big to fit in a Tupperware but it’s still much smaller than you. Stop being a baby. Just do it.”
Setting fire to the house and living in the car was starting to sound like a viable option again.
I paused with my hand stretched towards the picture. I had options. I could… poison the thing. Make it run to god knows where and curl up in pain and die. I could do that. It was an option. I could… light lavender oil and perform a chant. Wasn’t lavender good for these things? I could… I could go to the main house and get the burly ex-farmer landlord to come sort it out for me… in the middle of his dinner time. I could hit it with a shoe.
I could also just bloody well grab the picture and put it next to the window.
So I finally did. I would not be defeated!
Of course one thing I didn’t take into account was my reaction when the startled spider moved.
I dropped the picture. The picture went one way, the spider went the other. The picture went outside the window. The spider dropped onto the sill. It ran for its life. Across the sill and no, not out the window, up the wall again. I knew this was my chance. If I let it get away again fire would be the only option. So I grabbed the bin and chased it, across the wall and up above the bed. Standing on tippy toes I slammed the bin down over it. And then I stood, panting.
I didn’t have one of the essential ingredients for spider capture: a piece of paper. All I had was me, a bin and a wall.
The window was on the wall.
I began sliding the bin down and across towards the window avoiding the telephone line and going around the curtain rail. Slowly. At one stage I moved too fast and hit a bump and the little furry leg stuck out again. I didn’t scream. I didn’t drop the bin. I just increased my concentration.
The problem with the window was that it was built into the wall. There was no way for me to guide the spider out without actually letting it go.
I did it on a count of ten. I let the spider go near the open window and then I nudged its huge furry behind with the corner of the bin, all the while telling it (begging it?) that there was no need to hurt me. We could be friends. I actually quite like spiders.
It seemed to consider coming back inside. That corner it had found above the bed was the perfect place to set up a new home. I banged the bin against the wall behind it. No, not that kind of friend.
It scuttled out the window. I sprang to action, slamming the window shut and running into the bathroom to do the same.
Then I realised the picture was outside. My only copy of my graduation photograph.
I swallowed and, still high on adrenaline, headed outside with a torch. There, outside my bedroom window, was the spider. It was leering at me. LEERING.
Well fuck this shit. Some things are just not worth it. Memories are over-rated anyway.
In the safety of my house, having a calming cup of tea, I realised that I was feeling pretty accomplished. I had fought a great battle that night and both parties had come out okay in the end. Fears are illogical and yet they have such amazing power over us. But it is possible to fight them and to overcome them for the greater good.
I also realised that I do actually quite like spiders. As long as they’re nowhere near me.