I was napping on the sofa the other day, TV murmuring in the background. When I opened my eyes I focused on something across the room, something dangling from the lamp.
There was a time when I would have leapt to my feet and swatted such a bold beast who clearly didn't understand my time-honored arachnid rules: stay out of my sight and live happily, I shall not hunt you down; appear before me and take your chances.
This time, though, maybe because I was still half asleep, I pondered the thing. It was a small spider, tan in color with long legs, a living miracle in minature. I watched it drift down from the lamp on its fiber, appendages networking the air. Then I watched as the little fellow settled on the window seat and traveled west in no hurry, finally reaching the mountainous television (mountainous, at least, to him), which was scaled with determination and purpose. The spider then crossed the top of the box and disappeared, maybe back to a warm lamp home, maybe up the curtain and to parts known only to creatures with four sets of legs.
I lay there thinking about how many spiders I've murdered over the years, tiny Charlottes who for all I know had a treasury of babies waiting somewhere for mother's return. I thought about the spider's province: the lamp a skyscraper, the family room a country, the back yard a galaxy. Maybe there in spider world exist governments and holidays and deities and all other manner of civilization about which I have been callous, I the lumbering human who on my way to bed crushes without thought an important member of eight-legged society. The woolgathering made me almost misty and I heard a tiny voice whisper, "These are old people thoughts, introspections of those whose brains have had too many years of thinking." I drifted back to sleep.
The spider reappeared the following day. I looked up and he was clinging there on the ceiling above, his form now quite clear on the white paint. A student of life, I reached for the computer to identify him and was surprised to see so many spider variations, dozens with names like Wolf and Garage and Trapdoor, Ladybird and Florida and Orb-weaver. I then stumbled onto an image of a Brown Recluse, which many claim inhabit these parts. Scowling, I looked at the ceiling and back at the computer screen, then back at the ceiling. Could it be?
After some descriptive paragraphs about the Brown Recluse and its bite, paragraphs containing words like white blisters, itching, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, shock, ache, skin deterioration, scarring, necrosis, and long painful recovery, not to mention photographs of large oozing lesions that made my eyes bug out cartoon style, I clicked my computer off, folded a newspaper, and smacked the hell out of Mr. Living Miracle Ceiling Crawler. Don't know for sure if it was a Brown Recluse. Don't care.
Beware the vacuum cleaner, o universe of spiders. On spring cleaning day my long years of brain activity will not reveal compassion toward your kind. Whether Loxosceles reclusa or not, I will launch a preemptive strike against the air-breathing arthropods who inhabit my home.
So much for tender-hearted reverie, which I've decided to save for when I really am old.