Wednesday, October 4

Death of a Spider

Halloween is nearly upon us and we have the tangled cobwebs and black cat to prove it. Unfortunately, with the cobwebs come the large scary spiders. And not the kind people like to drop into the punch bowl and children wear as rings.

Black widows.

Every time I mention that we have black widows living on our porch, I get the same reaction. You already know how it goes because you're doing it right now. Especially if you're my mother. Black widows, though, are such cool spiders. The most venomous spider in North America, yes, but also one of the dead sexiest. No pun intended.

I still don't want them waggling their seductive little abdomens under all the patio furniture, however. We are not running that kind of establishment.

I can't honestly say that the thought of black widows infesting the narrow spaces around our casita normally inspires a sense of thrill or even one of mildly positive excitement in me. But last night I found myself oddly bespelled by the strange, witchy charm of this grandmother of shiver-inducing spiders.

It went down like this:
Conducting a search for the correct tupperware lid in the noxious atmosphere permeating the cabinet under the kitchen sink has lately become excruciating. I find it a far more alarming prospect than that of meeting up with a black widow, actually. In the interest of finally mitigating this stench, Raphael pried up the bottom of the cabinet under the sink to reveal in all its leaky glory the sewer pipe lurking deep in the netherworld of the crawlspace.

As an exciting backdrop to the leaking pipe, the flashlight illuminated an urban sprawl of spiderwebs and the disturbing murky gleam of strangely shimmering sewer water. Right in the center of that gossamer cosmos hung a huge black widow, her spherical abdomen the darkly metallic gleam of hematite in the pale shifting light. She clung upside down to her web with outstretched, slender legs and didn't move at all as we examined her. Exhibiting a sort of spiderly dignity. Or maybe just freaked out as all hell in her own shy, spidery way.

This may sound misguided (if that's the word you're looking for), but this was actually a magnificent spider.

That's why I feel so terrible about the mission we subsequently embarked upon, the main goal of which was to brutally destroy every spider in that crawlspace so that we could make that awful smell go away. I don't know anything about how the poison killed her, but I'm pretty sure she suffered in some way. She finally moved when the poison coated her shining obsidian body. I'm sure spiderly dignity gave way to some instinctual sort of spiderly panic. I didn't see her leave her web, but when next we aimed the flashlight into the depths of darkness under the house, she was nothing more than a dull, shriveled ball of spider curled up on the packed dirt below her web.

I know she was only a spider, and a potentially deadly one at that, but my gut still hiccups a little when I think about how she was doomed for one reason from the moment she began to spin her web in that narrow cavern. We recognized how fascinating and desirable her gorgeous voluptuous spiderness was, and yet, when it came down to it, we judged her on nothing more than that -- her spiderness.

What's worse is that we'll probably freeze her likeness into spooky little eight-legged ice cubes this Halloween to entertain the party-goers and, once the sun comes up, make the same decision all over again when we find that one of her sisters has filled the niche under the sink with her own sticky labyrinth.

Rest in peace, spider.


Wingal said...

Okay, that was beautiful in a deeply-disturbing-to-an-arachnaphobe kind of way. I killed a spider myself last night, but used the more expeditious and probably less painful method of a Size 10 brown, be-bowed flat purchased at Target for $16.99 in a time of financial difficulty/upcoming-conference desperation.

And you know, unusually, I felt bad about it, too. Now I'm depressed and feeling sympathetic for that one creature that absolutely paralyzes me with fear. But I'll still kill the next one I see.

Jenny said...

Sorry Wingal. I just had to get it all off my chest - before it crawled back onto my chest in the middle of the night and I accidentally swallowed it in the way they always say you do with spiders while you're sleeping.

Wingal said...

What is it? They say that the average human being ingests something like 20 spiders in their lifetime during sleep? That's just gross, man... but unlike some people, it won't be a black widow stewing in my digestive acids.

Jenny said...

I don't know that you could miss a black widow sliding down your gullet - even if you were asleep.

Incidentally, I picked up a brick on Saturday and nearly had a heart attack. The black widow on it was even larger than the one described above. I immediately made my neighbor come out to smash it, thus proving myself correct that I will always choose to kill black widows. Damn me.