The Passenger.

There was an unexpected passenger in the car. I know a thing or two about spiders and even I was surprised to see the large orb web spun over the passenger seat, not to mention the large Aranea cavatica in the middle of the web, and if you know anything about spiders you know that’s the same species that was the hero of a famous children’s book. Some people think the pig is the hero of the book but let’s be clear: there’s a reason it’s called Charlotte’s Web and not Wilbur’s Mudhole.

I gently coaxed the spider out with a stick and she was easygoing about it, maybe realizing a car isn’t the best place for a spider, although inside is better than outside. Sometimes, when I’ve been in the passenger seat myself, I’ve looked over at the rearview mirror and seen a spider clinging to it only to fly away after a few minutes. And if you’re thinking spiders don’t fly, well, sometimes they do when they’re young and they use their silk to catch the wind so it carries them upward, and most also fly when the car they’re hanging onto reaches highway speeds.

The one mistake I made was telling my wife there’d been a spider in the car. She was upset that there’d been a spider in the car, and that that I’d put Charlotte among the flower pots and not out in the yard, well away from the house and anywhere she—my wife—might want to go. She—my wife—would even have preferred that I kill her—the spider. And I feel like I’ve failed. We’ve been married almost thirty years now. We have an anniversary coming up in a few days, in fact, and yet she still doesn’t appreciate that I know a thing or two about spiders. When we see a spider in the house she doesn’t care that I can accurately identify it as, in most cases, a wolf spider which, if you know anything about spiders, you know is a member of the Lycosa family—a group that’s completely harmless to humans, doesn’t build webs, and, let’s face it, isn’t nearly as bad as whatever pests it’s eating. Having a spider in the house is like having a guard dog that doesn’t need walking, lets itself in and out, and catches vermin. In other words it’s like having a guard dog that’s a cat. A very small cat that just happens to have eight legs and eight eyes.

And this is where I admit that she has good reason for being suspicious of my association with spiders. Back when we were first married, when the ink on the license wasn’t even dry, we were out on the back patio and I caught a small member of the Salticidae family and went to show it to my wife. If you know anything about spiders you know this family is very cute, with fluffy bodies and lovely iridescent green and purple markings and big round eyes. They’re completely harmless to humans and they’re almost friendly. There’s even a trend of people finding these spiders in their homes—the people’s homes, not the spiders’—and building little terrariums and making them pets. It’s like keeping a hamster. A very small hamster that just happens to have eight legs and eight eyes, and that might, when it dies, leave behind an egg sac with a hundred or more babies inside, but if you know anything about spiders you know most of them will eat each other.

And if you know anything about spiders you also know members of the Salticidae family are commonly called “jumping spiders”.

This one jumped down her shirt.

She didn’t divorce me on the spot so there’s that but she hasn’t exactly let go of it either, even after all these years. I understand she was upset, but I was upset too. The spider died! And I was at least partly responsible! But it’s never happened again. I’ve done my best to keep spiders away from her, both for her benefit and theirs. At some point, surely, the incident will be, if not forgotten, then at least forgiven. There’s got to be a statute of limitations on something like this. Anyone who knows anything about spiders, would you please let me know what it is?

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  1. Anony Mole

    Well written and humorous. Worthy of a “Paul Harvey… Now you know the rest of the story” kind of telling.

  2. M.L. James

    Is it wrong that I laughed out loud at this? If so, just color me wrong, spider man! I know some people who HATE spiders. Geez, you’d think they were snakes or something. Personally, I like most spiders as long as they don’t jump on me. They do that and they have it coming to them. As you stated, though, they eat things like flies and gnats and mosquitos. From that standpoint, they’re more like geckos, which I also like. Wait, do geckos eat spiders? Ah well, either way, I’m sorry about the dead spider and the fact that your wife doesn’t share your affinity for these creatures. I’m also glad you and your wife are still together. You must have done something right all of these years. Happy anniversary to you and the Mrs.! Also, the answer to your question is — no. The fact that the spider that you brought to show her jumped on her will be your fault throughout the rest of your life IMHO. People don’t forget things like that. Sorry, dude! It is what it is. Also, Charlotte looked amazing. Glad you were able to find her a more suitable place for her to conduct her life. Also, I learned something new. I didn’t know that the young spiders eat their siblings. Survival of the fittest, I suppose. Loved this post, Chris! Mona
    M.L. James recently posted…Waiting at the PharmacyMy Profile

  3. mydangblog

    You had me empathizing with you right up until the spider jumped down her shirt! I personally have no issue with spiders—I put them outside rather than killing them—but I draw the line at boob contact!
    mydangblog recently posted…What Any Normal Person Would DoMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I know I don’t deserve a lot of sympathy for letting the spider jump down her shirt. Unintentional as it was I still should have known it would happen since, after all, they’re jumping spiders. She still doesn’t like me catching the ones in the house, though, and wants them killed which always makes me sad.


    My favorite book when I was a kid was Charlotte’s Web, Chris, and I cried when Charlotte died. Maybe that’s why I have no fears about spiders and I’m always glad to see them. Also, maybe it helps living in a place where poisonous spiders aren’t that much of a thing. Thanks for your always exquisite story-telling and Happy Anniversary!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Most spiders, even the poisonous ones, prefer to avoid humans which, in turn, makes it easy for us to avoid them. Since you mentioned poisonous spiders not being much of a thing in your area I’ve noticed some spider species that historically haven’t been native to Tennessee have now appeared here. There’s a small benefit of climate change, I suppose–we now have members of the Nephila genus, also known as “golden orb weavers”.
      I’m also not surprised that we both cried over the death of Charlotte. I would have been happy to see Wilbur die if it meant Charlotte could live.


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