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October 24, 2005
Spider, Man

There's little more humbling than squealing like a little girl in front of the youngsters you've been charged with raising into men. After the arduous task of dressing three little boys for church - a chore that, let me tell you, really does not put one in the frame of mind for contemplating Jesus, I set about getting dressed myself. I had an audience of three, each chattering as if the others were not talking, each intent on being heard.

Then I saw it - a creepy brown spider crawling up the inside of the very shirt I was about to put on. I couldn't tell if it was a brown recluse, given that these rotten little beasts are so, well, reclusive. But I wasn't taking any chances. "C'mon boys!" I boldly called to them, and we headed for the bathroom, where I shook the shirt over the toilet. The intruder was about to go to his grey-watery grave.

But after the shaking, I saw no spider in the toilet. Nor was he on it. Or on the floor beside it. "Back up boys," I said, decidedly less boldness in my voice. Somehow he had escaped. No matter, I thought - the wife will find him.

Back into the bedroom we went, talking about spiders - can they kill you, do they eat people, can they ride bicycles...

And then I looked down, and saw him crawling up my chest.

You know how in the movies, when somebody gets some kind of icky crawly creature on him, he slaps hysterically at it with both hands, making distinctly unmanly sounds?

This is exactly true to life. Hollywood, I salute you for getting this, at least, dead to rights.

The spider, rest his soul, was killed by my flurry of self-inflicted judo chops. He lay crumpled in a little heap on the carpet, to what would have been the endless fascination of the two older boys, had the youngest not tried to eat him.

Copious amounts of toilet paper for the pick-up and one flush later, I was ready to move on to other topics. Monsters, bicycles, wet dreams, the tribulation - anything but Dad's display of cowardice in the face of the enemy. The children, however, all seem to have a great talent for mimicry. Even the youngest began squawking in response to his brothers' re-enactments.

We revisited this inglorious moment throughout the day. Even later that evening, as we ate with friends, I looked over to see Caleb describing it to the little girl with whom he is quite infatuated. She, of course, thought this was hilarious. They had a wonderful laugh.

Such are the indignities of fatherhood. Sometimes we are warriors, sometimes we are teachers, and sometimes we are clowns.

And the next time this clown sees a spider in his closet, he's likely just to get the shotgun. Now that will give them a story to remember.

Posted by Woodlief on October 24, 2005 at 07:03 AM



I'm sorry, Tony. You were very brave to try and kill the spider anyway.

(snerk) (snerk)

Posted by: MMM at October 24, 2005 8:46 AM

We live in the boonies outside KC, and the spiders that find their way into my house are ENORMOUS!

My youngest son, now 20, was deathly afraid of bugs himself. But I'll never forget when he was maybe 13, I cried out from the other side of the house. He RAN to me (knowing it was probably a spider), yelling, "Mom, where are you?" And then he took care of the intruder, even though he was petrified himself.

Yeah. I love the guys in my life! Sounds to me like you're raising some fine young men, Tony.

Posted by: Katy Raymond at October 24, 2005 8:47 AM

What a GREAT way to start the week, I'm still smiling. Priceless!

Posted by: Mary Ann G at October 24, 2005 9:49 AM

My wife handles the "deathly afraid of spiders" aspect of our marriage.

Personally, my favorite memory in this regard was in college, before we were married (dating, or maybe engaged - don't recall exact date).

She and I and at least my room mate and maybe another friend or 2 were all in my room mate's room. I think he was doing something on the computer that we all wanted to see, or something - don't remember, as it wasn't important to this event.

Anyway, my wife was sitting on the bed. Suddenly, she begins screaming, batting about, and finally running from the room.

The reason? We finally found it - hanging from the ceiling by a long strand of web, a *TINY* spider (not much larger than a 12 point font period) had dangled directly in front of her face. Priceless.

(To be fair, it did look a good bit larger to her, I'm sure, at that range. Of course, I've since noticed that her description of spiders sizes tends to be a bit on the "much larger than life" side, too.)

Thanks for being willingo to share even you shame with us. Don't worry - they'll find something less embarassing to mock you with soon enough.

Posted by: Deoxy at October 24, 2005 10:13 AM

Ah. I well remember the "spider dance" from when the boys were 2 and 3. They saw me walk through a large web in the yard between two trees.

They enjoyed it SO much that I got them "bug-smashers" (aka fly swatters). Of course, at that moment there were no bugs/spiders anywhere to be found so I drew a few on index cards and sprinkled them around the kitchen floor. We had a lot of smashing going on!

Good training for later. By the time the boys were five, they recognized The Sound. One Saturday my husband was reading next to Lee. Suddenly, my husband looked up and said "what ..." but Lee was already on his way down the hall, yelling back over his shoulder tersely "Spider". He promptly dispatched it and returned to the couch to explain to his father "Thats the sound Mom makes when she sees a spider, then we go and kill it. You've got to be fast or someone else will get it first!"

Posted by: Lucy at October 24, 2005 10:52 AM

You think YOU have spider problems? Hah! You need to read about Afe's problems with Huntsman spiders. You'll be grateful for your little girly spiders afterwards.



Huntsman spiders:

Posted by: ZMI at October 24, 2005 10:29 PM

Tony, as much as I look forward to each of your posts, they're even more enjoyable if I wait a day or two before I read them. Your blog is the best, and because of that you've got the best readers, and their comments make it even better!

Welcome back to Kansas, BTW. We're a better state now that you're back.

Have a terrific week!

Posted by: Mark Lenz at October 25, 2005 10:05 AM

I'm new to your blog (thank you, Lucy) but that was truly priceless. Thanks for sharing.

Still chuckling,

Posted by: Leni at October 25, 2005 8:17 PM

Reminds me of a spider story too..

And just a week or so ago my father went down to the basement to flip the breaker back on that tripped and we could hear him squeal like a girl as there were many many spiders...

Your post made me smile.

Posted by: Fish at October 25, 2005 9:51 PM

That could definitely happen at my house, right down to the spider-eating toddler. Still made me laugh out loud, since it isn't happening- not now, anyway!

Posted by: Lenise at October 26, 2005 8:10 PM

Laughing out loud here... That's too funny. But I did the same kind of thing last week... :)

Posted by: Rachel C at October 27, 2005 10:09 AM

Heh! Please, if you ever come to do a speaking engagement in SoCal, please let me do your intro. I know exactly how this would fit in! You always make me smile. Thank you.

Posted by: cooper at October 27, 2005 11:27 PM

Have you ever seen the movie TARANTULA? a giant spider in the desert and a cameo appearence of CLINT EASTWOOD as a airforce pilot dropping napalm on it and a epidode of the 60s sci fi series VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA with a giant underwater spider that snags subs in its web

Posted by: sandpiper at November 20, 2005 8:14 PM