One of the things that really worried me about moving to Australia was that I might have to interact with spiders. Not only is one of the world’s most deadly spiders right here in Sydney (the Sydney Funnel Web), but there are some rather large and scary looking spiders as well, which strike even more fear into the heart of any true arachnophobe.
The spider I fear the most is the not-deadly-but-still-really-scary Huntsman, which is massive and likes to crawl inside vehicles. Everyone likes to tell me “It’s a friendly spider! It eats bugs!” But did I mention it’s massive? And hairy? It’s freaking Shelob from Lord of the Rings, only inside your car. I did not manage to escape my time in Australia with no spider sightings, but fortunately, I did manage to outwit them with my courage and cunning.
Mom and Dad were the first witnesses to an encounter when they visited last spring. We had driven up to the Blue Mountains and were returning from dinner. As I pulled into the hotel car park, under the glow of the streetlamp, I saw a Huntsman on my dashboard, just on the other side of the steering wheel, staring at me with his eight beady eyes. I knew he had already won this battle, so I did the reasonable thing and jumped out of the car, letting him have it. Fortunately for Mom and Dad, I put it in park first. Dad saved the day by shooing him out with a brochure, but I made him do spider check every day after that.
The second spider incident occurred when Ethan and I went to a comedy show with our friend Jane. She was driving us back to the train station when I saw my arch nemesis inside the car, next to the window. I calmly let Jane know this was an emergency by saying something like “There’s a spider in the car! THERE’S A SPIDER IN THE CAR!” while trying to crawl into her lap. Jane, understandably, refused to pull over because we were in one of the worst neighborhoods in Sydney and she didn’t want to get mugged. Given the choice, I would have made that sacrifice. Ethan wisely suggested that I roll down the window to let him out, but the window button was within a foot of the spider, which was way too close. I knew as soon as I made a move, the wily spider would leap onto my face with a bloodcurdling scream, and I could not take that risk. We were at a stand-off: the spider staring at me, me staring at the spider, and Jane desperately trying to find a safe place to pull over before I crawled out the hatchback like the star of an action movie. After a tense minute or so, she pulled over, and Ethan shooed the spider out with the point of the umbrella.
All of this, of course, has provided much entertainment for my coworkers. About two weeks ago, my friend Rob told me he had a special gift for me that he found in a store and knew I just had to have:
|Real ones don't have a key chain coming out of their butt.|
Even though I knew it was a toy, I didn’t really want to touch it. It’s a lot more colourful than a real Huntsman but it’s realistic enough for me. But Rob was being so friendly, I just couldn’t hurt his feelings. I left it on my desk all day, because I knew if I put it in my purse, I would scare the crap out of myself when I went to pull out my train ticket after work. Still, every once in a while, I would catch it with the corner of my eye and jump back from the desk, forgetting that it wasn’t real.
Rob got his just desserts in the end, though. He also purchased one for his daughter, who took it to school for show-and-tell and then left it in her lunchbox. When Rob opened up her lunchbox that night, he nearly had a heart attack. I only wish I’d been there to see it.