Johnny and the not-so-itsy-bitsy Spider

Nature is not something to be trifled with. As human development covers the planet, animal species are being forced to adapt or die. Some, like squirrels and raccoons have thrived, being perhaps a little bit of a nuisance, but generally harmless. Others, like coyotes and even bears, are being pushed into the urban habitat, and consequences are a bit more severe. Humankind has always tried to gain the upper hand on nature, to contain it and make it convenient for us to look at, but not get in our way. But nature pushes back. Nature won’t submit so easily. And many a cautionary tale has played out to continually remind us of the unwavering drive of the natural world. I have a rather dramatic tale of my own that I will share, in the hopes that it may influence others to respect these awesome forces.

A couple of months ago I was surprised to find out that I had a new member of my household. I stepped into my shower to find a very large and very thick tunnel web in the corner of the shower window (A window in the shower?! What a country!). Presumably a spider lived in it. I eyed it cautiously at first, trying to make up my mind on what to do with it, and eventually decided to let it be for the moment. After all, I’d sure be annoyed if suddenly someone just up and destroyed my home for no apparent reason. I turned on the water and began my showering practices, which are quite exciting, but this is hardly the forum to go into detail about that. What happened next was that some water, splashed by me, sprayed onto the web, a spider leaped out of the tunnel, and I very nearly fell out of the shower. It was big. Like, real big. I don’t have a phobia about spiders like a lot of people do, but this thing scared me a little. It was like a prune with legs. I finished showering, giving the window as wide a berth as I could, and the spider stood there watching the whole time.

The next few days I thought a lot about what I should do. Should I kill it? Should I move it outside? Should I just let it be? It wasn’t causing me any harm, so I decided to let it be for the time being. It’s not my place to just kill another living being that’s just trying to get by. In fact, I began to realize that this spider wasn’t so different from me. I mean, we both lived in the same apartment, so there was that. We were both just doing our thing, looking forward to when that next meal came along. We both kind of liked the Eagles, but didn’t really like to tell people we liked the Eagles. I thought maybe we could even be friends.

I didn’t consider the spider a pet. I had too much respect for it to do that. People would ask me what I named it. The ignorance! I didn’t give it a name. I didn’t even know if it was a male or female. It would have been an insult to give it a human name. This noble and elegant creature. This was not some brain-dead hamster I bought at a mall pet store. This was a wild beast. A self-sufficient and cunning nomad who had made camp in what happened to be my apartment. It probably even had a name already, but it would be in a weird spider dialect that I couldn’t understand, let alone pronounce.

The friendship was doomed from the start, though, I think. As much as I tried to find common ground, we were just too different. We might as well have been different species. I mean, we were different species, but we might as well have been, like, even differenter species. Like, what if instead of a spider it was a ‘possum or a salmon or a baby or something? That would’ve been crazy! I think, in the end, I just came on too strong. You cannot tame the wild, natural world. It’s the foolish notion that we humans sometimes have that gets people mauled or killed by animals they assume they can turn into docile companions. I will admit, I fell into this trap. Too many evenings I tried to force conversations about David Sedaris, blatantly ignoring that the spider was clearly more of a Stuart McLean fan. I tried to get it to watch Seinfeld reruns with me, I tried to get it to explain dubstep to me, one night I even, embarrassingly, started talking about Charlotte’s Web.

It’s no surprise to me that the spider turned against me. I just wish we could have parted on better terms. I won’t soon forget that day I got into the shower and it jumped out of the tunnel, like usual. But this time something was different. It was skittering about, jumping side to side, rearing up and waving its front legs at me, somewhat menacingly. It looked like it was ready to leap right at me at any moment. I knew the time had come that I’d have to make a decision. And it had to be the right decision. The diplomatic decision. The honourable decision. I had to own up to the fact that I had tried to tame a wild animal and it was railing against me. The most important thing about the course of action I was to choose was that it preserved the dignity of both me and the spider. So I buried that stuck-up little shithead under an inch and a half of Raid and flushed it down the toilet.

*Photo by nothing via Flickr (under a CC licence).

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