While I will be the first to acknowledge that my wife is much better than me at almost everything, there are a few things that fall into my domain. For example, if a jar needs to be opened, I’ve got that covered. With my wife topping the charts at 5’3", the top shelf in pretty much every room belongs to me. There is one job, however, that my wife refuses to do and is normally the husband’s job that I’m not very good: killing spiders.
My wife hates spiders with a passion. As soon as she walks into a room, she can tell if there’s an arachnid in there somewhere. Even if it’s on the opposite wall, she will go no further. She will find me and ask me to take care of it. Her hatred (or fear, as some would call it) isn’t debilitating. If I’m on deployment or not home for any reason, she can muster up the courage to take care of business. Most of the time, however, this ominous duty falls to me. This is a job that I’m just not a fan of.
Now, I have no fear of spiders. I can easily recognize the dangerous species, and I know to avoid those, but most spiders don’t phase me. Instead, I have a respect for spiders, and over the years, we have come to an agreement that works for both of us. To understand this attitude, you need to be familiar with where I grew up.
I was born and raised in a rural part of North Dakota (Yes, nearly all of North Dakota is considered rural, but this area was really, really rural). The house where I spent most of my years was literally surrounded by fields. The crops were rotated, but they were usually either wheat or sugar beets. It’s also worth noting that I spent the majority of the time in this house with my bedroom in the basement (for my friends from the UK where you number the floors a little funky, this is the part of the house that’s below the ground). Therefore, every spring when the fields were plowed and every fall when the crops were harvested, the wildlife that lived in those fields were pretty much driven directly into my bedroom. This included some rodents, and quite a few spiders. Killing the spiders was pointless. For every one that you were able to squash, three more were ready to take its place.
Therefore, I decided to make an agreement with my 8-legged friends. We sat down at the bargaining table and hashed out a treaty of sorts. The talks got pretty heated, and we had to bring in a field mouse at one point to act as a mediator. In the end, we agreed to terms. Basically, I would stop killing spiders. In exchange, they would not bite me while I slept or lay eggs in my ears. They were pretty tough negotiators, so they also made me promise to stop killing house flies since it was there food source. I was able to stay strong though, and I retained the right to swat mosquitoes that landed on me. It was an experience that really prepared me for future port visits in places like Turkey and Bahrain where you barter for your goods.
I have held true to this agreement over the years. I don’t intentionally kill spiders, and they leave me alone. It’s a mutually benificial agreement. I’ve tried to explain this understanding to my wife, but it hasn’t really taken hold with her. She likes to bring up points like, “killing one spider doesn’t make the rest of them target you” and “get rid of the f’ing thing before I beat you with a frying pan.” I tend to think that she has a very convincing argument. Normally, when I’m forced to, I will take a tissue, gently collect the spider, and then release it into the wild where it can run and frolic with its family and friends.
Why do I bring this up now? Yesterday, I broke the treaty. My wife spotted a spider on the ceiling of our bedroom. She gave me “the look,” so I instantly sprang into action. I walked to the nearest tissue box (my wife has these strategically placed every 3 feet throughout the house) and then made my way towards my arachnid ally. I sang a soothing melody on the way to ensure that he knew I meant him no harm. I even flashed the super-secret spider ally hand signal. I positioned myself below him and reached up to collect him. Then, the unspeakable happened. I crushed him.
There were plenty of excuses for this. The spider was just at the edge of my reach while standing on my toes, so I was slightly off-balance. It was also a daddy long legs which are notoriously fragile to begin with. Do you think the International Alliance of Spiders (IAS) will forgive me based on either of these reasons? Absolutely not. All they know is that the cease-fire has been broken, and they are now justified in unleashing their entire arsenal upon me. All of the karma that I have built up over the past 20 years disappeared with one ill-timed stumble. I’m writing this post hoping that it’s not my last. I’m pretty sure that they’re coming for me at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to get home and see that my garage door has been replaced by a single human-strength spiderweb.
I have tried to explain all this to my wife, but she doesn’t seem to understand the severity of the situation. She simply looks at me and says, “you’re full of crap.” Like I said, she’s pretty convincing.