Thursday, 18 December 2008

Four Legs Good, Eight Legs SCARY

Did I ever tell you about the time I slept with my helmet?

It was the night that Gary Spider first appeared. Gary ended up being one of my most long-term spidey residents, and I felt a kind of grudging respect for him, mixed in with the terror that his spideyness inspired.

I heard him arrive. I'm serious - his hairy spidey legs actually made a sound as they scuttled down my hallway at warp speed. I thought it was an enormous mouse, and then it thundered across my bedroom floor and took up temporary residence on the bottom drawer handle of my chest of drawers. My helmet was sitting on top of the chest - a nice dark inviting hiding-place for a spidey refugee.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think sharing a car with a giant spider is bad enough. I've been known to abandon said car in traffic, when a giant spider has appeared from one of the vents. The thought of one of those hairy-legged suckers suddenly appearing on the inside of my visor, an INCH from my face while I'm out riding my bike - well, let's just say it haunts me. It happened to my friend Tempo once, and he survived to tell the tale. I wouldn't stand a chance.

So when I realised it was only a short spidey trip from the drawer handle to my helmet, I sprang into action. GO GO GADGET ARMS - I willed my arms to stretch further than ever before as I balanced on one leg, high on tiptoe and poised for flight, and snatched my precious helmet away. The safest place to put it was under the doona, right next to me. Sweet dreams...

Gary Spider eventually lived in every room in the house, but preferred the bathroom. There were some very scary moments when the steam in the bathroom made him lose traction. He would start sliding down the wall, closer and closer to my unclothed self... and I'm not sure who was more terrified! He'd be scrabbling like mad to climb higher, away from the madwoman who yelled "Don't come any closer, Gary, or I'll have to -!" (have to what? Concede defeat and give up my house? Run naked to a safer, spidey-free suburb?)

The day that I accidentally TOUCHED Gary Spider - ugh, I can barely recount the tale. I grabbed the bottle of saline so I could rinse my contact lenses, and got a fistful of Huntsman. The bottle and the spider flew towards the ceiling while I fled the room screaming. When I returned to the scene of the crime, Gary Spider was marching furiously up and down on 'his' bottle of saline where it had landed in the sink. I risked all sorts of ocular disasters that day by wearing unrinsed contacts. It seemed safer.

When the Bathroom Man came to renovate my bathroom, I got a bit worried about Gary. He'd gone into hiding, as he regularly did, and I suspected he had a little spidey hideaway behind a cupboard in the bathroom.

"Bathroom Man," I said, shuffling my feet and feeling a little silly, "Um, behind that cupboard is my pet spider. He's been living here for MONTHS now. When you pull out the cupboard..."

"Ja," said Bathroom Man, "if zat damn schpider shows its face -" He made a horrible SPLAT movement with his hands, and grinned. "Ja, it be shit rrreal fast, don't you vorry".

In desperation I called my friend Tempo, babbling about a race against time. I couldn't let the unsuspecting Gary be squashed by a cold-hearted tradesman who had no concept of the History Gary and I had...

What a pal. Tempo came and found Gary, who had obligingly come out of hiding, and bravely transported him outside in one of my rice bowls (I won't tell you which one, heh heh!) My hero!

I never saw Gary again. I like to think that he took his rightful place in the outside world, safe from the snapping beaks of hungry birds. The Huntsman spider lives for about 2 years, and I hope he lived a full and happy life Out There.

I wonder if Ernest(ine) is one of his grandchildren?

The giant spider currently in my kitchen may or may not be Ernest(ine). It's a lot less bulbous in the abdomen these days. I have pondered this, and come to the following possible conclusions:

  • It is a rival giant spider - which could mean I have TWO giant spiders in my house at the moment.
  • It is a rival giant spider and it ate Ernest(ine). If that's the case, I have one giant spider, but it's clearly of the predatory persuasion. And it knows where I sleep.
  • It is Ernest(ine). She has laid an enormous egg-sac somewhere, and regained her girlish figure. If so, I can expect my ceiling to be covered by hundreds of tiny, perfect huntsbabies sometime soon. I will have to dodge them as they abseil from the ceiling on tiny threads of web - or perhaps let them abseil onto my arms - they're very cute and non-threatening when they're tiny.
Sometimes I think chemical warfare would be so much easier - but I can't get past the thought that a poisoned giant spider is an angry and unpredictable giant spider... and I don't think I could stand that.

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