Saturday, February 06, 2010

In which I, surprisingly, didn't freak the hell out

I haven't posted in a long time because I started a brand new job on January 4th and it is awesome. So awesome that I've been happily working longer hours and have generally completely forgotten about everything else that I used to do before January 4th. But I have things to say, to send out into the ether! Things that are not important or necessarily even interesting but that I will nonetheless spew into an ambivalent void like a blind man's primal scream in a deserted parking lot.

So in week two of my new job, on a Monday I believe, I had an experience so terrifying while getting ready to leave in the morning that I had trouble getting dressed or sleeping for the rest of the week. First, it is important to understand that I am a huge arachnophobe. I don't like things that buzz and dive bomb my head either, stinging or otherwise, but I have full on anxiety dreams about having to walk past spiders in their webs when I'm stressed. In fact, this whole post is making me kind of twitchy and itchy as I type it, so I will try to keep it brief.

Like any normal person, when I get dressed, I put my sweater on last (pro tip: it goes on over your other clothes). I was planning to wear a cardigan. As I swung it around behind me to pull it on, out of the corner of my eye I saw a large, black thing fly towards the wall, and at the same time heard a "thunk", like a wad of duct tape hitting the wall. I knew what it was. It was too large to be a shield beetle (one of two insects that don't nauseate me on sight), too heavy to be... never mind. I knew it was a spider, a really big (for Portland) spider. I immediately dropped the sweater and looked to see where it had landed. Any arachnophobe will tell you that as horrified as you might be, you have to know where it went. It's a million times worse to have it just out there, somewhere.

It had fallen straight down and seemed to be disinclined to move too much. I grabbed a plastic pint glass from the bathroom counter and went to trap it. (Since almost our first date lo these many years ago, Pete's policy has always been to kill spiders for me, usually without telling me what he's doing. And since that time, my policy has been to leave anything that might make a noise when squished under a glass or bowl for him if he's not home. I know, it's terrible and I should be a stronger and more empowered woman, but I am a coward and squishing bugs is super gross. I own it and I've made peace with it.) The thing is, the damned spider was keeping to the moulding, so when I tapped the wall above it to get it to flee so I could trap it, it just kept to the wall. What I needed was a partner. Someone who would make the spider run away from the wall so that I could imprison it. I would also accept someone who would just kill the damn thing, but I knew that was unlikely, as my only option was The Cat.

Domino is good for several things. Sitting on your lap, accepting head scratches and belly rubs, eating cat food, making cat poops, batting cat toys into the nests of cables found at the back of electronic equipment, and whining. Domino is not a hunter. Oh, she thinks she is, but she would be wrong. But this one time, the stars were aligned for her, and what I needed was someone to gently bat at the spider without trying to carry it off somewhere and pretend to eat it: Domino's forte. I spotted her in her little cat bed by the window, picked her up and set her next to the bureau (which is where the spider was then taking cover). I tried to indicate the spider, but she thought I just wanted her to follow my finger because she is a cat and her brain is the size of the interior of a cat skull. But tapping on the bureau made the spider move, and that got her attention. Like she actually understood what I wanted from her, she tapped her little paw behind that spider, driving it out into the open. Where I accidentally killed it, crushing it under the edge of the glass while trapping it.

I left it under the cup because I wasn't sure if it was dead. And then I had to build a fort around it out of books because the drawback to my brilliant "involve the cat" plan was that the cat did not want to become uninvolved. And you know what they say: curiosity freed the maybe not totally dead spider.

It took me a full five minutes to verify that a different sweater was indeed Stuff of Nightmares free and then another five to check every nook and cranny of my winter coat. I called Pete immediately to tell him we had to move and I couldn't sleep another night in this House of Horrors. He was very sympathetic and didn't point out the inherent flaws in that plan, which is part of why he is a great husband. (Spouses, take note: "Well, that's not going to happen" is never the right answer in these situations. Neither is, "I don't understand why you're so upset.")

I couldn't help wondering where it had come from - was it in the closet the whole time? Did it recently invade the house? Did it crawl up and across other clothes? The sweater was new, so the I had to wonder, Has it been living on the sweater since the warehouse? Was it there when I tried it on? Did I bring it home? Is it an invasive species? Right about the time the tiny, detached, wannabe biological scientist part of brain started pondering what kind of spider it was, if it was poisonous, if so, just how poisonous, I physically stopped in my tracks and said, "Oh my God stop it!" I had to will myself not to think about it or my skin would have never stopped crawling. Pete disposed of it when he got home and I think he looked up what it might have been. I don't know if he fond the answer because I asked him not to tell me. It never even touched me, so it doesn't matter. If I asked him to tell me only if it was non-poisonous (which, frankly, in Oregon, is quite likely), and he never said anything, I'd know the thing I didn't want to know, the thing that could only make me dwell on the terrible "what if I'd put my sweater on more slowly, what if I hadn't noticed" questions, the thing that would only deepen my phobia and make me unhappy. So please please please, keep speculation about type and danger (if you are so inclined) to a forum inaccessible to myself.

And that is my thrilling tale of horror.

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