Large and possibly hairy spiders in your house: Squish or release?

According to my son, this animal is not harmful to humans. So go ahead. Stick out your hand.

GateHouse — So I’ve found spiders crawling on me twice today.

Small spiders, sure. Un-fatal spiders, I think, although it can be hard to tell because spiders are cunning and often disguise themselves as non-fatal spiders in order to sneak into places and sometimes pass through airport security.

But twice I have looked down upon my own shirt to find myself being traversed by something with body sections, multiple legs and venom — or, if not venom, at least pincers, which is basically scientific code-word for “venom.” Either way this is not going to mean anything very positive for my evening’s sleep schedule.

Now, I pride myself on being powerfully and masculinely unafraid of most things, including inventing adverbs for pointless jokes. Most things, that is, except for spiders. And the at-least-two snakes who live in my backyard now. And that skywalk thing with the glass floors on the 750th story at the former Sears Tower in Chicago. Also, the spectral librarian from “Ghostbusters” and those dreams about rollercoasters and clowns. Otherwise, I’m good.

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The spider thing, of course, is old. Even when I was little I would regard those little bits of insect-based trivia — “The average human will, in a year, while he is sleeping, consume 3,500 spiders” — not as endearing minutiae but damning evidence at the failure of mankind, which invented spray-on sunscreen (and butter) and cloud computing and for at least a few years gave a damn about space exploration, to prevent something so obviously problematic as INSECTS CRAWLING INTO YOUR MOUTH AT NIGHT. Recently my 7-year-old has begun telling me, several times a day, that tarantulas may look scary but aren’t poisonous to humans, as if the only logical response could possibly be, “Really? Well, my goodness, let’s get immediately to PetSmart and pick up 12 of them, as well as a cage with no sides on it!”

(This is true: I just bumped the mouse and the cursor arrow reappeared and it looked sort of like a bug and I MIGHT HAVE JUMPED A LITTLE BIT because now I’m basically seeing bugs everywhere out of the corner of my eye and in my peripheral vision and most of them are not real bugs and one of them was a bottle of ketchup.)

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Anyway, things took a turn in college. One day a spider found its unfortunate way into my freshman-year English class and — I’ll never forget this as long as I live — one of my classmates confronted the spider, gently scooted it onto a piece of notebook paper and announced her intention to take it down three flights of stairs and return it to the out-of-doors, where it would once again be free (and, having successfully escaped the English building, maybe pick a major that made it some money). And I remember, clear as yesterday, thinking one thing: “What in the HELL is wrong with you, hippie, smoosh the damn spider with your sandal made out of pot or whatever and let’s get on with it, these Chaucer metaphors aren’t going to identify themselves.”

Related, sort of

• The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Giant spiders, butterbeer, giant spiders, $30 twigs and giant spiders

Well, I either have bedbugs or someone dropped an awful lot of raisins in here

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That was college, so it was, whatever, 42 years ago. Yet I am disappointed to announce today the same sort of inexplicable incense-flavored hippieness has invaded my own home, because on both occasions two separate people ushered my shirt-spiders to safety, basically escorting them out the door with the sort of VIP treatment that would probably embarrass the Dalai Lama, who, I have it on good authority, in the same situation would smash the spiders Tibets. Please tell me someone out there liked that one.

So here is my question to you, Faithful Readership, and by that I mean the people who have arrived at my blog searching for “jeff gay wizard” or “wearing salmon colored pants”: Is this normal? Is essentially assisting a massive evil disease-carrying spider across the street normal behavior these days? Because I’ve gotta tell you, it seems a pretty huge time investment for something that could be easily accomplished with a decent squish. In the meantime, I will be online investigating the meaning of clown dreams, although only on pages that don’t have pictures on them.

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About Jeff Vrabel

Writer for GQ, Time, Men's Health, Billboard, Paste, Nickelodeon's NickMom, the official Bruce Springsteen site and The South Magazine. I'm also a syndicated humor columnist in "newspapers" and a father of two (the younger of whom has been personally approved by Springsteen). View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

32 responses to “Large and possibly hairy spiders in your house: Squish or release?

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