The Invisible Spider Trick

A modern day horror story.

11 March 2024

I am forever telling my family to leave spiders alone. They’re our friends, I say. They are on our side — unless, of course, you enjoy the company of flies and mosquitos. They’re benign friends who wouldn’t hurt a … well, we’re not their food, is what I’m getting at here. I agree they might be over-supplied in the leg department, but who are we to judge? I’m sure they’re great multitaskers.

Sometimes, I like to speculate about the Bible being only partly true about some things — which I understand is the way most Christians prefer to read it. For instance, I wonder if that part about God making man in His own image might be a bit metaphorical.

Imagine dying and arriving at the Gates of Heaven. After a brief wait, you are ushered into a vast chamber with vaulted ceilings — the presence of God, etcetera. But there, seated atop a gold throne, sits a giant spider.

“Wait, what?!” you exclaim.

“Yes, I get this all the time,” says God, somewhat irked. “When I said I made you in my image, it didn’t necessarily mean I’d give you the same number of legs. I was drunk, obviously, and I remember thinking two legs would be infinitely more amusing.

“After all, the phrase infinitely more carries more weight when you operate across the infinite reaches of space-time.”

“But,” you somehow gibber, “you have eight legs!”

“Yes,” replies God, a little defeated. “Not everything is about ‘physicality’, you know? There’s a spiritual dimension — boy, you humans really struggle with metaphors, don’t you?

“Anyhoo, I’m a spider, so just deal with it, okay? You know, this is why I didn’t want you people drawing pictures of me. Oh, I know — only the Jews and Muslims paid attention to that part of the Bible. Don’t know why I bothered, really — oh, that’s right. I was drunk.”

Personally, I don’t think a monotheistic god turning out to be a giant spider is the worst thing that could happen. There are far more awful possibilities. Imagine if you lived a pious life, finally enter heaven, and there, coiled upon the golden throne, is a giant serpent. It grins and hisses: “Ha-HA! Tricked you!”

This, by the way, is why I believe schools discourage children from cultivating their imaginations. Kids obviously come pre-loaded with immeasurable amounts of imagination. Which is then, carefully, and through a sequence of cleverly constructed lesson plans, almost entirely eradicated from their minds.

If you have children, you’ll have observed how their education began with imaginary play and ended with tedious, repetitive, busy work. Twelve years of leaping through abstract hoops, obeying arbitrary petty-tyrants, and fulfilling meaningless tasks, until finally they’re fully prepared for working life.

And you know yourself how tricky it can be to meet interesting human beings. You know, people who don’t think every conversation should be about tiling their kitchen, or about the real estate market. These people are hard to find. Children, meanwhile, start out funny and interesting and regressively, they become more dull. Naturally, I fully understand if you haven’t noticed this. If you don’t have children, you can be forgiven for thinking they’re unpleasant little monsters. But when you have some, or get to know some, you soon realize that children only become monsters when their parents don’t know what they’re doing.

Some people are fantastic with children, and bring out the best in them. One time, I was in a library in East Cambridge, MA, and one librarian was one of those people. She used to host sing-a-longs and book readings for little kids (libraries are so wonderful, it’s amazing they haven’t been outlawed). So, when my daughter Boudica was three or four, I’d take her over, and she just loved it.

Then, at the end of the story-telling session, this librarian would look at all the tiny children gathered around her on the floor and say this magical thing: “Now, who here would like an invisible spider?”

She’d reach into her pocket and pretend to remove a dozen-or-so invisible spiders and distribute them among the children. And they’d all get up and wander away into the corners of the room, staring raptly into their empty hands, and petting their invisible pet spiders. I’m telling you, children are a lot of fun to be around.

Of course, you can play a similar trick on adults, but it usually requires a lot of extra words. I’m doing it here, actually — right now. Making you see things that aren’t in front of you.

I’m also thinking about spiders because yesterday — and this is the sort of thing happens to me, I guess — there was a sudden commotion in the hallway, and Boudica came in, exclaiming, “there’s a spider in the bathroom!”

My first response was … well, you know what it was. “For the love of all that is unholy, leave it alone! Spiders are our friends!”

“But it’s in the bathtub, Dadda!” Boudica continued from the hallway. “It’s huge!”

“Is it a Huntsman?”

“Mama, is it a Huntsman? Dadda wants to know. Dadda?! Mama says it’s a Huntsman!”

“Then he’s harmless. Tell your Mama to leave him be!”

“Mama, Dadda says … no, Dadda? Mama says she wants to remove him.”

“Gods teeth, child — why is she fussing with it?!”

“I think it’s upsetting her, Dadda.”

“Well, it wouldn’t upset her if she ignored it.”

“She’s trying to trap it with some Tupperware and take it outside. But it’s moving around too much.”

“Hmm, I can hear the yells. Is Hattie in there with her?”

“Yes, she’s helping Mama.”

Hattie is eight, and I strongly suspect Hattie is not helping her Mama. There’s a lot of yelling now.

“Boudica,” I say after a bit. “I need an update.”

“Apparently, the spider is running around in the bathtub, and it can’t get out.”

“Tell Mama not to catch it with Tupperware. She could accidentally cut its legs off.”

“Okay. Mama, Dadda says don’t catch the spider with the Tupperware in case you cut its legs off.”

Everything in the bathroom goes silent.

“What’s happening, Boudica?”

She pokes her head in the bathroom. “Mama is curled up in a ball, groaning softly.”

“She accidentally cut the spider’s legs off, didn’t she?”

Boudica goes into check. “Yes, Dadda — she did. What do you need me to do?”

“Take your Mama to her office and fetch her some peppermint tea.”

Now I’m involved. And I’m not happy, obviously. There’s a fairly antagonized spider loose in the bathroom. He’s missing four legs and there’s nothing that can be done for him. Super-glue will not remedy the situation. Time to cut our losses.

“I’ll have to kill it,” I whisper to Boudica.

Naturally, she objects in the strongest terms. After all, I’ve been warning her not to harm spiders since she was little.

“But you see I have no choice?! Until now, we’ve enjoyed good relations with the spider community. I can’t risk word of this incident getting out. If news of this … if this reaches the spiders … if his friends learn what happened here, today, then we’ll all be in some serious trouble.”

I turn on the shower, aim the faucet at the luckless spider and watch it wash away into the drain … where I crush it with a shampoo bottle because seriously, I do not want this spider telling his friends what happened here. I do not want a horde of spiders turning up in the middle of the night, crawling into my ear canal. No, thank you. I like spiders, and furthermore, I like liking spiders. I don’t need a war on my hands.

But anyway, that was my weekend. How was yours?

A wrongcard about spiders.

At this point, theres a wrongcard or everything.

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