My husband and I have this terrific marriage. I trust him implicitly and I love him like mads. Which is why I’m so confused by this—this “fact” that he mentioned recently. He said it to me in passing as he strolled past my office door. I work with it open to stave off claustrophobia.
He’ll usually toss in some loving remark that I feel like a breeze, not an interruption:
“Hey Doll!” or “How ya doin’, Love?”
Not the other day though. Nope.
He threw over a different kind of comment. Brief. Delivered with offhand innocence.
(Do not read further if you want to avoid fear for the next several days.)
Here is the bomb that he dropped on me:
“You’re never more than three feet away from any spider.”
He just said it. And then he walked away.
How far is three feet? I pulled my legs off the floor and sat on them. I felt footsteps of anxiety march up my spine. Zips of panic lace into my heartbeat. I glanced across my desk. Gazed at the floor.
I didn’t see any spiders.
I got back to work. I forgot about my husband’s bizarre, unnecessary remark.
It was not an hour later when out of my periphery I saw a . . . movement. This tannish encircled movement. Across my desk. Then the moving object kind of . . . leapt.
I looked down at my keyboard and there it was.
Just crouching there. Not an inch from my fingers. Its body stretched from the U to the H.
Historically, I am not known for my speed of movement, but I challenge any Olympian to jump quicker than I did from my chair. Next, with the swift forethought of some running back or Chuck Norris at his best, I yanked up my keyboard (it’s wireless), I upside-downed-it and began shaking it onto the hall floor—I had managed to traverse the several feet to my office doorway.
I watched the tan shape, legs a-flutter, drop to brownish tile. Now camouflaged, I could barely make out its form as it scurried away, clearly rattled.
My husband’s earlier comment began blinking in neon across my brain: “You are never more than three feet away from any spider.”
I resisted a mental breakdown and got back to work after a thorough recon of my desk and vicinity. By the time I finished it was well past midnight.
I turned off all the lights and pulled myself up the stairs. I could hear my husband’s snore. I flipped on the bathroom light.
I took a step onto the cool tile.
I jolted—frozen. Then wrenched my neck in a double-take like some cartoon. You could almost hear the reverberating “Boing!”
WHAT IS THAT?!?!?!
I was staring at a black shape, monster-esque, squatting by the tub and leering at me. Leering! It was at least the size of a quarter.
“This is not a spider,” I said to myself, “This CANNOT be a spider.” I moved toward the thing to get a better look, as if I was Captain America or somebody. Then, just like a coward, my adversary raced beneath a cabinet. Out of sight. It was a spider!
I stood up straight. Time to take careful catalogue of the night’s events. I needed to be especially analytical regarding their relation to my husband’s earlier, seemingly insignificant comment.
Was it possible he was in cahoots with these spiders in some way?
No! That seemed unfeasible.
I shook him awake.
“Why did you tell me that fact about the spiders?”
“What?” he murmured, rubbing his eyes.
“Two spiders just tried to intimidate me. In my own home. Was your comment connected to that in some Twilight Zone kind of operation?”
“Are you okay?” he asked
“I’m fine! But—” and then he was instantly back to sleep. I know because I kept shaking him as he fell deeper into the rhythmic snores that attend his REM state.
Somehow, I was able to get a few winks myself, but it was difficult considering the cosmic enigma before me.
Surely I had told my husband, my best darling, all about my antagonistic relationship with eight-legged creatures. Had I really neglected to mention almost losing my leg to a brown recluse? Or that my first novel, The Spider Waltz, later abandoned, concerned a young woman forced to live with a giant spider (the size, when huddled, of a VW bug) that only she could see and with whom she was forced to converse and enact the evil whims of?
How did my husband not know that he should never casually mention “spider facts” to me?
It was time to have a serious conversation. I confronted him the next afternoon.
“Did you know that what you said about the spiders is true?” I asked him.
“What did I say about spiders? What spiders?” Was he feigning innocence?
“I had to look it up.,” I told him, “It’s not a myth. You really are always within three feet of a spider. Scientists concur. Even the ones who don’t agree say that we don’t know how close we are to spiders because no one has bothered with precise calculations. You could be close to up to 800 spiders if you’re in a field.”
My husband gave me that look he gives me sometimes. Like he might kiss me. I never have time for that at these moments.
“Don’t you remember telling me that fact? Why did you do that?”
“I don’t know?” he shrugged, “I probably had just read it somewhere.”
I relayed the stories about my specific interactions the night before. The keyboard spider. The tub lurker.
“It was staring at you?” My husband raised an eyebrow.
“It turns out,” I continued, “That the only way to avoid spiders, since they’re terrestrial, is to submerge in water.”
“Or you could sky-dive,” he replied. Grinning. Here we go again. He knows I don’t want to jump from a plane. I don’t even want to think about jumping from a plane.
“Actually, you’re not safe in water either.” Was I detecting sarcasm? He listed a bunch of sea-insects.
Here is another TRIGGER WARNING.
I do not have video so you will have to imagine it. It cannot be, as they say, unseen.
My husband started to sing and dance. Impromptu. In the hall right outside my office door. Think Fred Astaire meets Snoop Dog. Here are the song’s lyrics:
Three feet away
Three feet away
You’re never more than three feet away
From a spider, a spider
Then he casually strolled off. His gigantic laughter filling the hall.
I can’t decide which sound I love better. His laugh or his snore. When it comes down to it both of them signal that he’s with me and that everything’s going to be a-okay.
But that better be the last time I ever hear that song.