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?