Natasha vs The Spider

Are you sure it wasn’t a girly scream? (This post contains a picture of a spider of unusual size. If that sort of thing is not your sort of thing, don’t click.)

Still groggy, I was dismayed to exit the bedroom to find my elderly cat peeing in the hallway. She’s had urinary tract infections before, and she’s being treated for Feline Kidney Disease, so I was immediately concerned she was sick. But walking past the kitty bathroom on my way to the mess alerted me to the real problem: the litter needed changing.

My husband normally takes care of the litter, but he’d been working long hours and it just kept getting pushed to the bottom of the To Do list. Obviously it was now Priority Two (One being dousing the hallway in Nature’s Miracle).

We keep the litter in the small guest bathroom by the front door. The large litter box takes up most of the floor space, from door to tub; there’s just enough room to sit on the toilet and change the litter. Perched on the edge of the toilet, a plastic bag for the used litter between my legs, I noticed something to my left, at the farthest edge of my peripheral vision.

Sitting in the corner of the tub, next to the drain, was the largest spider I’d ever seen. We’re talking Australia-level size here.

Our apartment is “garden-level,” and abuts a wooded area, so we have tons of wildlife trying to sneak in: tiny frogs, slugs, pill bugs, box elder bugs, the usual ants and bees, plus cats, raccoons, and possums. Spiders are not strangers either. My gentle giant of a husband loses it around spiders, so it’s up to me to take care of them. Usually it’s not a problem.

But then usually the spiders are tiny, friendly, just trying to eat flies. Not large enough to hug my face Alien-style.

I froze. What to do? The cats were useless; this spider could lasso them and ride them around my apartment. We didn’t have any bug spray. My size 11 shoes were still too small to squish it.

I took a deep breath, then immediately stopped because of the cat box smell. I squared my shoulders and quickly set about changing the litter as fast as I could. The spider had not moved so I decided not to provoke it.

Once I was done, I immediately turned to Facebook for comfort. One friend suggested covering the spider with something. I found a large bowl in the utility closet and approached the bathroom. The spider just stared at me and I fled.

I’d already been planning on a trip to Target, so I quickly dressed and walked over. I spent some time contemplating various bug sprays, finally deciding on one that’s technically for ants and roaches, but promised to be pet-safe.

Unfortunately, my husband was already home when I returned. I’d hoped to take care of the spider before he left work, just so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. But I explained why he might hear some screaming. I took my can of bug spray, returned to the kitty bathroom. . .and the spider was gone.

Had the ammonia fumes left me mad and hallucinating?

Much later that evening, I was in the bedroom getting ready to go out to dinner. My husband entered, his face pale. “It’s really big,” he said softly.

“Oh no, you saw it?”

He nodded. “I sprayed half a can of bug spray on it, but I think it’s dead.”

Yes, it was curled around the drain.

The next day, I fished it out of the drain with a paper clip. My ruler revealed that the legs extended 2 inches from the body. Four inches across! A little internet searching suggests it’s a giant house spider. How is that a thing?

Since then, I’ve been reflecting on my fear. Why was I so scared of this spider? Most spiders can’t hurt people. This wasn’t a black widow, brown recluse, or wolf spider. But it just looked so wrong, sitting in my tub. An intruder. Something unnatural, when of course, of all the things my bathroom, it’s one of the most natural.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about The X-Files:

Mulder: Scully, can I confess something to you?
Scully: Yeah, sure. Okay.
Mulder: I hate insects.
Scully: You know, lots of people are afraid of insects, Mulder. It’s just, uh… it’s a natural, instinctive…
Mulder: No, no, no. I’m not afraid of them. I hate them. One day, back when I was a kid I was, uh I was climbing this tree when I noticed this leaf walking towards me. It took me forever to realize that it wasn’t a leaf.
Scully: A praying mantis?
Mulder: Yeah. I had a praying mantis epiphany, and as a result I screamed—not a girly scream, but the scream of someone being confronted by some before-unknown monster that had no right existing on the same planet I inhabited. Did you ever notice how a praying mantis’s head resembles an alien’s head? The mysteries of the natural world were revealed to me that day, but instead of being astounded I was… repulsed.
Scully: Mulder, are you sure it wasn’t a girly scream?

Perhaps it’s that simple. The spider is just so different from me, an alien creature invading my home. And perhaps I, too, seem like a horrible monster to it (and of course, I am).  I can offer no better defense than “it freaked me out.” Spiders are an important part of the food change, but I  wish there was a way to live in a bug-free world.

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Spider next to a hand-drawn scale to show that it's about 3 inches across and next to two pennies to show the scale of the abdomen.

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Natasha

History. Hindi cinema. Hugging cats.

7 thoughts on “Natasha vs The Spider”

  1. Oh wow. I had a good look around my living room floor before I clicked on that photo, hehe. I almost lose my mind just thinking about big spiders. I’ve given it some thought and I think what scares me is that they don’t make a sound. They’re just there. And then they move, and you can’t even hear them. Aaaaaaahhhh.

  2. WHY DID I CLICK THE PHOTO!? Arrrrrgh!

    Oh gosh. I loved this article. There are very much similar feelings towards spiders here and Juniper Puss certainly doesn’t have it in him to catch spiders. Ack. I don’t like them, no matter how much I tell myself that “they’re more afraid of me, than I am of them” and so on. So I was rather proud of myself recently when I found a spider in the middle of the night and this unfolded: I had been woken for the umpteenth time by Little Juniper and was carrying him downstairs when I spotted a spider on the wall. I was SO annoyed that this spider felt it was okay to surprise me when I was so worn out. So without really stopping to think any further than that, I picked up a book (or something of that ilk) off the stairs, smooshed the spider, and carried on.

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