I really am quite fond of spiders. This morning when I stepped into the shower and noticed a daddy long legs lurching spastically up a silken guy wire, I wanted nothing more than to rescue him.He was scrambling to escape the sudden steaming monsoon with his life and legs intact, but huge drops kept ricocheting from my skin, jarring him from his thread.
What to do? What to do? Daddy long legses are such frail things. Many times I’ve accidentally dismembered or demolished them while trying to protect them from some less dubious fate.And – like cellophane or wicked witches – they lose all structural integrity upon the slightest contact with water.I bent towards him, trying not to divert the shower stream his way. Then seeing my chance as he lurched precariously in the middle of his thread, I grabbed one end, severing the other from the floor with a flick of the wrist, and relocated him into the empty bathtub.He landed lightly, like an expert parachutist, and I was proud of my swift and gentle dexterity. Hopefully he’ll find his way into a ceiling corner rather than a floor nook to make his home next time.
Of course, it’s easy to like daddy long legses. As a child I was convinced that the Incy Wincy Spider song was based on those sweetly comical-looking creatures.
Earlier this year, in England, a woman told me about her dream of visiting Australia. She’d wanted to come here all her life, but was too afraid of perishing in the maws of that well-known killer: the Australian Toilet Spider.She clearly meant the redback – a native of the unplumbed backyard toilet in the days when most suburban houses had them. And even though her phobia was half a century out of date, I couldn’t argue with the sentiment that they’re nasty, bitey things. In fact, the redback is the only spider that I crush on instinct and without remorse. All others of the arachnid clan are welcome in my home.
But as summer rolls around, the time draws near to poison my most hated household pest. So the first thing I’ll be doing is scooping up my eight-legged friends and releasing them in the garden where they’ll be safe from my toxic arsenal of cockroach-seeking bombs.
I really do loathe cockroaches. Once I thought I had one in my hair and screamed continuously till I got it out.I was on the phone with my grandma at the time.
We were chatting when I thought I felt some little scurrying legs, and I paused mid-sentence, focusing all my senses on my scalp.And holy crap! There it was again. Something tiny-creepy sneaking amongst my follicles. It had to be a cockroach! A spine-chilling, germ-carrying insectosaurus. With ominous antennae. And barbed hairs cosseting its legs.How I hate those things.
I swatted wildly at my head – grasping, flicking, trying to get the bastard off right now, now, very now without squashing the foul black seepage of its guts into my hair.
And the whole time, I was yelling.On the other end of the phone, my grandmother was frantic – I could hear her, but I couldn’t answer. My every self-preservatory instinct was focused on nabbing that death-infested roach.
Then suddenly I had it. I felt the tips of my fingers brush against it. I scooped under and flicked it away.From the corner of my eye, I saw its arc. I heard it land, with the whisper of a sound. And I was pumping with adrenaline, grasping, grabbing, twitchy, to find some implement to beat it to a pulp.But then I glimpsed it, poised there on the bench. I could swear I saw its fear – that furious pounding heart, those rapid-breathy lungs – and my revulsion turned to shame.