The five of us were minding our own business, sipping on some Merlot, watching the fire crackle in the mid-afternoon spring sun. We were waiting for the flames to transform the logs of wood into charcoal so we could get started with our braai. The wives were getting
grumpy hungry. There were idle conversations about kids, neighbours, work colleagues and the state of the world economy. (OK that last part is a lie, but I wanted our social gatherings to come across as semi-intellectual and not just gossip marathons).
Then they arrived, with as much fanfare as one would expect from four girls. And. then. some. They blasted into our circle like a firework factory explosion.
It was a cacophony of talking, crying and screaming. And all because of an uninvited guest who decided to check out the interior design of, you guessed it, our guest room. Through mumbles and giggles it dawned on me that this specimen of the arachnid family was slightly bigger than a VW beetle.
I wasn’t in the mood, or I had a broken leg, or I didn’t want to leave my guests alone. Many excuses can be used for why I didn’t jump up immediately to save the world from another spider. The bottom line and god-honest-truth is that I DO NOT LIKE SPIDERS. Yes I used uppercase, for my English comprehension does not allow me to explain effectively how much I hate them fuckers. And disposing of such a creature from hell, with four little girls watching, would probably turn into the most emasculating thing I will ever have to do.
The shivers didn’t just run down my spine, it took permanent residence there. My friend, whom I invited into the warm embrace of my home, showed his true colours by not offering any help whatsoever. He did do one thing: He grinned, widely. And so did his wife. And so did my wife. They all had a fundamental understanding of how entertaining the next few minutes would be as I will have to kill/catch/dispose of the ghastly thing. A thing that one should only see on Animal Planet.
I got up and put my game face on. Through clenched teeth I walked slowly into the house. I knew I had to be the hero today. I promised myself that I will not shriek like a girl upon seeing this monstrosity. I will show these terrified, overly excited girls that I am a Dad and a Dad is something bigger than a man. I will become the Demi-god they need me to be.
My son came out of his slumber, or PlayStation playing induced coma, to come an observe some real dad-on-spider action. He had the excitement of a retired shark ready to feast on a paraplegic seal.
As I was walking down the longest corridor I have ever had to walk down, I prayed that the description given by the girls about the size of the eight-legged-freak would be an exaggeration of a young female mind. I asked them in a feeble voice where this thing was and they replied that it is big enough for me to see at first glance. My heart sank and skipped three beats, all at once. (It was a medical miracle people!)
I finally arrived at the doorway.
I stopped. Feet shoulder width apart, hands on my holster. I rubbed my unshaven face, and spit out the piece of grass I was chewing. It was time. Time to save this godforsaken town. And it was going to happen right here in the middle of the dusty street. The warm wind was tugging at my shirt, somewhere a door slammed shut. Then deathly silence. They all looked at me, townsfolk eyes filled with hope, as the theme from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly echoed through the street. Mothers held their kids behind them, men sat drearily, watching me motionless. This was our stand-off in the heat of the Western sun. I raised my grey eyes slowly and scouted the area.
And there in the corner, just above the brown curtain he sat quietly. Taunting me. Frozen, glaring at me with all his eyes. His eight legs strained in anticipation. I dropped my jaw, picked up my pride and released a “Shit!” to the ecstatic laughter of everyone watching me in that moment. Unfortunately the description of size from the girls was spot on. There was no panic inflicted misconceptions or fear induced exaggeration. It was huge.
I knew killing it would imply me hitting it once, accurately, right across the centre body part, making his legs spasm and wiggle in its last desperate moments on earth. The flip side to this reality would be those same legs on my shirt as a result of me missing the frigging thing and forcing him to jump. As I have, nor ever wanted to be a pro-baseball player, that was not an option. For two main reasons: (1) My Dad image and hero complex would be severely damage as I WILL scream like a teenager at a Bieber concert, and (2) No-one wants to treat a semi-happy forty-year old for heart failure on a public holiday.
Long story short, I caught it, got rid of it, without killing it. No detail necessary.
Upon my return to the circle of my loving wife and friends, feeling like Van Helsing of the Spider world, I informed everyone that I released it. “Released it?” My wife shrieked. “You should’ve killed it.”
Who’s the tough one now, love? I took another big sip of wine trying desperately to reduce the concentration of adrenalin coursing through my veins.
Have to add, sitting here reminiscing on the events of yesterday I am also surprised that I allowed the spider to find another lease on life within the perimeters of our yard. Maybe I thought it would be my good deed for the day, maybe I thought he will remember how I saved his life and leave me alone, maybe I thought that this would be a good lesson for my kids, or maybe it was just too much red wine, thus impairing my judgement.
Whatever the reason, here’s to the spider that got away. And let that be a warning to all his brothers and sisters. The next one will not be so lucky.