I’m not sure how to address this subject without sounding like a dick, so I’ll just jump in and say it: people of the world, please think twice before killing that friendly neighbourhood spider climbing up your wall.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics doesn’t seem to keep any figures on whether spider killing is on the rise, but judging on a purely anecdotal basis – the basis by which all the best columns are compiled, from your local rag to the New York Times – there is a rash of arachnid murder going on in the bedrooms of Australia.
Like the one-punch hoon rampage, maybe this has been going on for a long time and we’re only starting to notice it because it’s being mentioned on social media. Or maybe it’s become a thing because acquaintances are sending out SOS messages on Facebook asking what to do about the huntsman that has just climbed in through the window and has them climbing the walls in terror.
These Facebook and email exchanges always seem to end the same way: with the unfortunate demise of the invading pest. Splat.
But without getting on a high horse or anything, I’d like to play the part of devil’s advocate (or spider’s advocate) and urge womenfolk and dudes everywhere to think twice about hurling an ugg boot towards that huntsman. (It always seems to be hunstmans for some reason – I never see money spiders around any more, presumably because I don’t have any money. Boom, boom. I’m here all week. Try the chicken.)
I want them to think twice about splatting that furry thing with a copy of the latest Vogue or Obscure Sports Enthusiast Quarterly. Because that spider is just as terrified as you. No doubt more so. You’re like a giant to him. He or she is as scared of you as snakes are of other creatures. (I always think snakes get a bad rap, too. I cringe when mongooses attack them on nature docos. Incidentally, what is the plural of mongoose? Mongooses? Mongeese?)
And any spider you encounter is likely harmless. It’s not going to crawl up the doona in the middle of the night and eat your face off. It’s going to be too busy acting like an eight-legged can of Raid, snacking on all the troublesome insects hanging around the house. Really, you won’t even notice it’s there, until it decides to scurry up the white walls at 2am in the morning. (Why do they do that? Because they’re wacky that way.)
In fact, I like to picture these spiders as if they’re cheeky little chappies with a twinkle in their eye (or eyes). You know, lovable scamps like those dogs with one black patch over their eye like you used to see in old-time movies or Ginger Meggs comics. I imagine them saying stuff like, “Hey, how are you going, buddy? Don’t mind me – I’m just having a little snack up here. I’ll stay out of your way. You just continue whatever it is you’re doing and I’ll continue doing my job cleaning your apartment of flies and stuff.”
Maybe they’ll wave an arm like they’re performing a salute or something. It depends on just how much I’m willing to anthropomorphise them at the time.
If I could, I’d turn myself into some type of arachnid Santa, visiting homes everywhere and gently remove spiders by getting them to climb on newspapers or broomhandles and then depositing them on an outside bush or in the backyard. But I can’t. I don’t have the power to visit every home in distress. I doubt Batman (or Catwoman) does, either.
And why do I give a shit? Aren’t there bigger problems in the world I could focus on? Why yes, there are. But perhaps we could start with this smaller one – one that could save a tiny life without too much grief.
Now if I could just convince people to catch rogue mice in opened bags of corn chips left by the bed instead of using traps. But that’s another tale.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.