As You Age You Don't Get Any Smarter, But You Do Get Kinder


Well, I did it again today.

And not just once. Twice!

I'm beginning to wonder about myself.

What am I talking about?

Twice today, I captured a spider in the kitchen and took it outside.

The first guy was about the size of a dime, legs and all, the legs being as thin as beard hairs. That poor, second little guy, looked like a skinny, underfed speck of pepper with legs so thin they were barely visible.

That poor second little guy! I sure scared the daylights out of him. (Her? I don't know. How do you sex a speck of pepper?)

Anyway, he (I guess) was hanging from the faucet by the thinnest strand I have ever seen. When I grabbed the strand (not the spider; I'm not that compassionate) and walked the 10 feet to the back door, he started -- as they always do -- reeling out a long strand so as to hit the deck and make a run for it.

Well the floor was three feet below him, and that little guy reeled out one incredible length of strand for someone his size before I got him to the door, released him, and told him to go play with the other bugs.

He never made it to the floor, of course, but you've still got to wonder where that strand came from.

That's the first two spiders this year, but the score will get up to 50 or 60 or so before the warm weather ends.

My bathtub-shower combination used to collect spiders the way a fermenting apple collects wasps. We changed the bathtub this winter, though; Lolly couldn't get in and out of it anymore. So we now have a nice marble shower to match the sink.

I'll let you know how the spiders like it.

I haven't always been so kind, and I can't really remember when I started my Save-An-Eight-Legged-Friend crusade. A few years back, I guess.

I don't really love spiders, you understand.

Except for jumping spiders, maybe. I smile every time I see one. They crack me up, walking around looking like a cross between a bulldog and a gorilla.

Of course, I only like jumping spiders when they're not in the house, which, fortunately, is the way things are. I hear that their bite is bad news.

I'll be perfectly honest with you; I make an exception for a black widow, indoors or out. I don't like their looks -- too much like a patent leather grape with a bad attitude.

The first time I ever saw a black widow was in my garage up in Utah just as a really cold winter was setting in.

I went out to get a pair of leather work gloves off my workbench, and there was this long-legged, black, shiny spider glowering at me from under the shelf above the bench.

"Huh!" I thought, totally unconcerned. "Look at that big, black, shiny spider with the red ..."

And then, as the truth dawned on me, a heavy leather glove sent her (I know how to sex a black widow) on her way to spider Valhalla.

The second black widow I ever met up with was in New Jersey. In a pile of bricks from a ruined shed out back of a house I was renting out in the country.

I was building a rough little fireplace to fry some hot dogs and hamburgers for a get-together of the young GIs -- both male and female -- in my work section.

The old bricks were a great resource.

Evidently the black widow that bit me on my left arm thought so too, because she fanged the living daylights out of me and got away too! Even though six of us tried to get her as she skittered away among the bricks.

I didn't die, so you can't call the score even.

It's more like Me several: Black Widows one good try. I didn't even get sick. Just a little swelling on my forearm. I was, at the moment of that malicious attack, however, nicely immunized by Kentucky bourbon.

I had a really interesting experience with a wolf spider one day over in England.

We were moving from an old building to a new one in the middle of winter, and we had to move all the old furniture.

I had just helped lift an old desk up onto a 6-by-6 and had hopped up there myself.

Something that felt like the tail end of the scarf I was wearing brushed against my neck.

I reached back, brushed it aside, and didn't give it another thought until it happened again, this time deep down inside my jacket. In fact, inside my T-shirt on my bare back.

I slid a hand in and swished it around, but came up with nothing.

A few seconds later, however, when I slid a hand into my jacket pocket to get out some papers, out of my sleeve leapt the biggest dang wolf spider I have ever seen.

Almost the size of a tarantula!

It bailed out of my sleeve, over the papers in my right hand, across the hand, onto and across my jacket, up the inside of my other sleeve, out again, and across my jacket and right hand a second time.

Then it very sensibly dived off the truck and disappeared. I tell you I shuddered for so long after that big fat hairy thing tried hiding in the safe harbor of my nice warm T-shirt I almost shook my teeth out.

On my neck? Down my back? Inside my T-shirt? Running up and down the inside of my sleeves? That hairy looking thing? Br-r-r-r!

Bad spider! Bad spider!

Anyway, the warm weather is coming, and here we go again: Spider Search and Rescue, Pine Unit G, is on the alert!

I suppose it's a life-is-precious thing that comes over you when you begin feeling that cold hand on your shoulder.

It gets a bit hard to kill anything, no matter what it may be.

Know what I mean?

Except for black widows.

You have to draw the line somewhere.

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