In an effort to prevent my beloved granddaughter from sharing my ridiculous arachnophobia, I think I sort of went too far.
First of all, I hate spiders. I know, on an intellectual level, “spiders are good for the environment, they eat the bad bugs, they can’t hurt you” blah, blah, blah. Still, I wake up at least twice a month from the world’s most vivid dream that a HUGE BLACK HAIRY SPIDER IS ABOUT TO DROP FROM THE CEILING ONTO MY FACE!!!!!
I hate them.
But I am a good Nonni. I am a wise Nonni. I am an enlightened Nonni.
Last week, my sweet granddaughter Ellie looked up during breakfast and asked, “What is that scary scary thing on your ceiling, Nonni?”
It was a very small spider. As in, wicked small. Like the size of a sesame seed. It was black and had 8 cute and tiny legs. I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to teach about the wonders of spiders. I figured if I did it right, it might just spare Ellie 45 years of night terrors in which a giant spider lands on her face.
“Oh,” I said with a benevolent smile. “That’s our kitchen spider. His name is….um….ah….George!”
“Hi, George!” Ellie chirped, before returning with serenity to her waffles and blueberries.
As for me, I kept an eye on ol’ George. He seemed pretty calm, just moving his way long the ceiling, without ever once giving me the idea that he might intend to pounce upon my actual face.
I was cool. I was calm. The kids and I have been smiling at and chatting with George for about a week now. All eight of his tiny legs have remained the same size, and he has never once made any effort to come off the ceiling.
Nice George. Good George.
Nonni was pretty impressed with her ability to stave off severe arachnophobia. Nonni was doing the hippy environmentalist yay-me dance all week.
But. This morning, while Nonni was trying to get a pot of espresso going, she heard this little tidbit:
“Oh, good morning, George!! You got really really big last night!”
Holy heart attack.
I snuck into the dining room, where I found Ellie smiling down sweetly at a HUGE, HUGE, H-U-Fucking-GE wolf spider on the floor under the dining room table.
To my credit, I said, “Oh, my. Oh, gee.” instead of “What the HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU????? THAT IS NOT GEORGE!!!!”
We paused for a moment. Ellie had a waffle bit on the end of her fork. Johnny had a blueberry in each hand. I had a spatula the size of Minnesota in my hand.
“Nonni”, Ellie looked at me with her beautiful innocent eyes. “Please save him!”
Heart pounding. Every horror movie since the dawn of movies flashing before my eyes.
I do NOT want to scare her! I don’t!
“Sure, honey. Let me try! I sure would love to save George’s wicked big Uncle….Tony…..”
I grabbed a juice glass and popped it over the giant spider on the floor. Said giant spider immediately hurled himself upside down against said glass. Every single inch of Nonni skin crawled.
Then I took a piece of sturdy but thin paper and slid it under the glass. Uncle Tony was writhing, but he was contained.
“Oh, look, Ellie!,” I cheered “I captured him!”
Only no I didn’t.
Uncle Tony got one horrifically articulated claw under the glass and pulled himself out from on top of the paper. In less than a nanosecond, I could envision his horrible bendy legs rushing over the side of the glass and right up my sleeve.
With a soprano shriek worthy of the Metropolitan Opera, I hurled the glass, the paper and old Uncle Tony out onto the floor. Then I backed up, sat on a chair with my hand on my chest, gasped and said, “Um….no, no I didn’t.”
At this point poor Uncle Tony was desperately trying to escape by rushing across the floor toward the wall. Unfortunately for him, he was pounced upon our intrepid/stupid puppy dog, Bentley, who tried to snuff the spider up his nose.
The horror of that thought propelled me out of my chair, cloth napkin in hand. I dropped the cloth onto the spider and stomped down with so much force it probably left him as nothing more than a stain.
Gagging, I scooped up the cloth, rolled it into my hand, shoved it into a plastic grocery bag and stuffed it down into the trash. Which I then tied into a knot.
I was gasping at that point. I was soaked in sweat.
I fell into a chair and looked up to see both Ellie and Johnny staring at me with huge brown eyes.
“Nonni, did you KILL him?” asked Ellie.
Gulp. “Yes. I’m sorry honey. Sometimes we try to save our spider friends, but it doesn’t work out.”
Ellie looked at me solemnly.
“Good.” She said. “He was creepy.”
She took another bite of waffle.