Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010: About Alice

There's a spider who lives outside of my door. She's been there for about, I estimate, two weeks? Maybe more. Maybe less. I don't really know. One night I was walking up my steps and saw her for the first time. Instinctively, I cowered and snuck into my house as if she wouldn't be able to see me. Well, she did and she paused and stayed very still and I imagined her whispering to herself "Pleasedon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillme.” I stood behind the safety of the door and watched. It took her a while to wake from her paralysis but then she regained her composure and started some web building. It was very cool to watch. I could see the web glisten from the porch light and it was so shiny and she went about it so quickly. She's just a regular garden spider, an orbweaver to be quasi-specific. I named her Alice. She doesn't want to hurt anybody, she just wants to catch some bugs so that she can live another day. Alice and I are a lot alike, that way. I like to leave my porch light on so that the bugs come and land in her web and then she can have a snack. She doesn't bother me because she stays outside. Those bugs, on the other hand, they're itching to get in like I've got some impressive set up or something. Nope, bugs, nothing exciting up here. Just a couch, a lot of books and Facebook and you won't live long enough to build a social networking profile so I'll just leave you outside with Alice.

I noticed that every morning the web would be gone. I wondered if maybe I just couldn't see it or if it really had disappeared. After some research, I learned some things.

Alice builds a web because it's a fairly energy efficient means of prey-trapping. She can build a web and then bugs get caught and she eats them without having to hunt them down or chase them (I told you we're a lot alike—I don't really like to leave my house in search of sustenance either). It does use a lot of Alice's energy to build a web, but at least she doesn't have to chase anyone or stay on high alert. However, after an evening (and especially when the dew comes) the webs lose a lot of their sticky. That being the case, especially if the web hasn't caught anything, Alice will tear down her web and eat it and regain some of that lost energy. That's why her web was always gone when I'd go to work and she'd be building a new one when I came home. She lives in a spot that is behind my screen door when it's open so there's no chance of me accidentally running into it and I let her stay there. I kind of like her, even.

I don't like spiders in my house. It's not that I'm afraid they're going to kill me (though I do understand the likelihood is a little more probable), it's more that if they're in my house I know they're just trying to keep warm. And if they're trying to keep warm, then I know that they might have some little spider fetuses they're trying to take care of. Other spiders who will want to live in my house. That's not super great to me. Also, I'm paying rent in this joint and I get to say who stays and who goes. Little bitty black spiders that run super fast, wasps, mice, bees--unless and until you start coughing up $200 monthly, you're going to be savagely murdered. Sometimes poisoned, sometimes beaten but I will always win. Alice, you may stay. Outside.

I've never been the jump-on-a-table-screaming type of girl, regarding arachnids. Don't get me wrong, I've never liked them. When I see one across the room, I get a little annoyed that I have to get up and kill it (I'm not the type to usher them outside, I can't get that close) and then I get up and kill it. When there's one next to me on the sofa, I'll probably jump up and scream. It's the unpredictability, really. Seriously, if anything unexpectedly appeared I would more than likely jump. Don't get so close to me, unpredictable spider. That's why I like Alice. She's predictable. I know why she's here. I know what she's doing. We have an understanding. I've told her that if she gets into my house, I will have no qualms about squishing her. If she lays eggs in her web—I'll tear it down. It'll be a sad say and she can build a new one but laying new eggs might be more difficult.

I've started to get really excited about spider webs when I see them now. They're exciting. Did you know that pound for pound, a spiderweb is stronger than steel? Have you witnessed the horriffic storms we've had lately in these parts? The wind? The torrential downpours? And yet, Alice's web remains unscathed. She hasn't eaten it in a few days. They're completely useful—even beneficial to me as a human and yet they're one of the hallmarks of creep. Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without cobwebs. Why? They're not scary—are they? I understand that someone with arachnophobia would rightfully be scared of them because they are indicative of a spider's presence (according to Wikipedia, 50% of women suffer from arachnophobia and 10% of men do, too. Show of hands, who thinks that's an accurate estimate?) but they're not going to do anything. What makes them fearful? I wonder. It could be that when you think of spiderwebs, you think of an abandoned house or maybe a house filled with insane folks. It would have to be that way because what rational person would leave a spider web on their porch? That's craziness! It's not crazy. It looks just like Paris, and people love Paris. [Map of Paris brought to you in part by]

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