Unexpected Peril

Snakes don't scare me. My roommates and I owned a 4-foot python in college. I played with him regularly. I'd even cuddle with him from time to time. I have no fear of heights. Three years back I did the Nevis bungee jump in New Zealand, a 1,440 foot drop (the same one Tiger Woods braved last week). Mice don't scare me. When I saw one outside my office the other day, I chased it around and tried (unsuccessfully) to trap it with a trash can, while my student jumped on the table and screamed with terror. I'm not afraid of the dark. I was never afraid of lightning or thunder. In Thailand I sat next to a huge wild tiger and pet him. Wasn't scared.

I'm completely and utterly terrified of spiders.

It was a few minutes after I arrived home tonight that I saw it. A Daddy Long-Legs* I can handle. And I can deal with a little spider. But this-- this was a huge, black spider. It looked something like this--


Try to tell me that that picture doesn't give you the willies. And just when I thought things couldn't possibly get worse, I saw another one.


After soiling myself, I tried desperately to think rationally about the situation. One is a fluke. Two is an infestation. Where there are two there could be ten.

I've always been a strong believer that the only reasonable reaction to learning that your house is infested is to move, immediately and permanently. The only thing keeping me from pulling up Craigslist and searching for apartments was that I had just moved, and the idea of doing the whole thing again was a nightmare. I decided I would wait to see one more before I began packing.

So I stood there, petrified, trying to think of a plan. My first thought was to get a tissue and kill them, but that was way too terrifying. Even using a whole mound of paper towels was too scary because it would start running when I got close and I'd have a heart attack and die. Then I thought about the old "throwing the book at the wall" technique, but I vetoed that when I realized that it would cause the other one to run away, which would in turn cause me to have a heart attack and die.

I went back and forth between the paper towel and book throwing ideas for about five minutes, when suddenly one of them started moving. Just as I was heading over to the computer to pull up Craigslist, I noticed that he had moved closer to the other one. And then the thought crossed my mind: Could I kill both with the book in one throw? It would be the ballsiest move of my life. If I missed it would mean the end for me. But it was what I had to do and I knew it.

I looked through my bookshelf and found a big book about Aaron Copland. With Aaron in hand, I walked toward enemy lines. At that moment I would have rather been pitted against lions. But I stepped forward. And I threw the book...

The rest is pretty much a blur. I vaguely remember a loud thump against the wall, and there was definitely some yelling. And I think I fell over. When I regained my senses, I saw them-- two smooshed spiders stuck to the wall. Copland had come through. And the apartment was safe again.


*I've always thought it was funny to picture the spiders getting their names for the first time. God would be like, "You will be...Tarantula." And the tarantula would nod solemnly and say "Yes, sir." Then God would turn to the next one and say, "You will be...Black Widow." And the black widow would stand there proudly and reply "Thank you, sir." Then God would turn to the third spider and say, "You-- you will be...Daddy Long-Legs." And the Daddy Long-Legs would begin to nod solemnly, and then would be like, "Wait-- what?? Daddy Long-Legs?? That's my name?? DADDY LONG-LEGS???" And the other two spiders would be standing there with all their face muscles tensed up, trying incredibly hard not to laugh. Then later, after the naming is all finished and God heads home, the other two would come over to the Daddy Long-Legs and one would whisper to the other, "Well say something." And the other would be like, "Me?? Why do I have to say something? You talk to him." And finally one would turn to the Daddy Long-Legs and be like, "Hey, man...honestly, I think it's a cool name...like, I know it's not what you expected...but I don't know...I think it'll grow on you--" and the Daddy Long-Legs would be like, "Oh, shut the fuck up. Just leave me the fuck alone." And the Tarantula and Black Widow would walk away and make each other promise not to ever leave the other alone with Daddy Long-Legs, because it was just too awkward at this point. Then they'd get to a bar and they'd sit there, not saying much, kind of looking down. And one of them would look up, and the other would look up and catch his eye, and one of them would grin a little even though he was trying not to, and the other would grin, and then one would burst out laughing, and they'd both laugh for like 15 minutes without stopping.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Daddy Long Legs theory is the best thing I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

have you seen any more since then?

Tim Urban said...

No, thank God. I'm unbelievably on edge though constantly.

Erika said...

you know I've heard spiders are kind of like mice, if there is one, there is always two and if there is two...well. It's safe to say you have pets! :) Happy apartment hunting!

When you seek out therapy and you should tell them you want you want a benzo and lots of them! That should keep you out of the loony bin!

Porridge said...

Papa Milton once grabbed a monstrous spider with his hand and you screamed and ran away.

Anonymous said...

the agreement between the spiders is sort of like the unspoken agreement our friends have, only the daddy long legs is hugh