Herald and Journal, Nov. 13, 2000

The wonderful world of spiders


Just when you think you are in charge of things and controlling your own destiny, something usually taps you on the shoulder and brings you back to reality.

In my case, reality didn't tap me on the shoulder. It very nearly landed on it.

A couple of months ago, I arrived home in the afternoon after working a few hours of overtime. As I came through the door, I noticed Tom and Jesy with their heads together. I should have been suspicious. I was glad to be home, though, and not expecting anything out of the ordinary.

Jesy disappeared for a few minutes. As I stood talking to Tom, my face was turned away from the kitchen doorway. Suddenly, Jesy called my name, "Hey, Mom!"

Being the dutiful and trusting Mom that I am, I turned my head toward her. There, perched on her palm and just a few inches from my face was the biggest, hairiest spider I had ever seen. I screamed and instantaneously struck the back of her hand to knock it away from my face.

Thankfully, she somehow managed to keep control of the spider. No, I wasn't worried about the spider's welfare. I just didn't want it on the prowl in my house. If it had gone catapulting into space and taken shelter somewhere in the kitchen, I would have had to take up residence elsewhere.

I have a "thing" about spiders. Mice, rats, snakes, and reptiles don't bother me. It's those creepy, crawly spiders that I can't stand.

Jesy was very proud of her new pet. I was somewhat taken aback. I didn't recall anyone asking my permission to bring a tarantula into the house. Aren't there laws about this kind of thing? It was time for Mom to lay down the law.

Yes, a tarantula had taken up residence in my home. It would have to be kept in the cage and not allowed out for visits with Mom. If Jesy wanted to take it out when I was not present, that would be all right. I told her, "I will not be terrorized in my own home."

Secretly, I read the spider book she had bought when she purchased her pet. After all, forewarned is forearmed. I was very quick to point out the section of the book that said you should not use your tarantula to scare people. I must send a thank you note to the author.

Jesy's arachnid friendship was not to last, though. The spider lasted less than two weeks. She had kept it in the same room where the computer is located. I couldn't help looking to see where it was every time I entered the room. Hey, if it was still in the cage, then it wasn't on the loose.

Then I noticed that I didn't see it anymore. When I asked her about it, Jesy sadly reported that her spider had died. "I think I played with it too much," she reported. I tried to look somber.

For a few week,s we were spider free. Then, one day, Jesy came home and happily reported that her spider had been "guaranteed." Sure, guaranteed to give me the creeps. She had been back to the pet store and found out she could get a replacement. Happy day. You can just imagine how I danced for joy.

She had hoped to get another female Pink Toe like the one she had before. She finally brought home another tarantula few weeks later. It was bigger and even uglier than the first one. This one was a male. Even Jesy was not too eager to handle it.

I know it sounds a bit odd, but in the next two days, I saw three big, black spiders in the house. They were the biggest spiders I had seen in my house for a long time, with the exception of Jesy's pet.

I told Jesy that her tarantula was sending out some kind of spider call to attract all his friends into the house. She scoffed, but I was vigilant for any new interlopers. I always had a fly swatter or a large, heavy shoe at the ready.

The most interesting moment came when Jesy eagerly took her two-year-old nephew, Ethan, to see her spider. The big, hairy, black thing was sitting at the side of the glass cage with some of its legs raised as if it was going to climb up the glass. Ethan took one look at it and didn't say a word. He just shuddered.

That's grandma's boy, all right.

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