I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t seek them out on a regular or even semi-regular basis, but I’m not afraid of them. An ex-roommate of mine had 3 tarantulas and we used to lie on the floor and let them crawl all over us. 4 years ago when I was in Austrailia I was nearly bitten by a Sydney Funnel Web Spider. If I hadn’t been wearing steel-toed boots I would have been bitten. I will admit that it was more then a little disconcerting and creepy to have a spider hanging by its fangs off the end of my boot.
But I’m not afraid of them.
Which brings us to Sunday, March 23, 2003.
I woke up at around 8:30 in the morning and lay in bed reading until 9:15, then heaved up out of bed and went about choosing my clothes for the day. This entails pawing through a plastic clothes basket. Why a clothes basket? Well, among the many things that I don’t have, but that I would like/need, besides a girlfriend, is a chest of drawers. Actually I have 2 clothes baskets, one for cleans, the other for dirties. It’s not that bad, especially since I could give a damn if my shirts are wrinkled.
I selected a pair of white Jockey briefs, a pair of blue wool socks, my 501’s a white Hanes V-neck T-shirt and a blue-gray L.L. Bean mock turtleneck, all of which I brought with me to the bathroom.
Some days I get dressed in my room, some days in the bathroom, it’s pretty much a random thing.
Got to the bathroom, dropped the clothes on the floor and proceeded with my morning abulations: “business” was conducted, during which I read 3 more pages of Brideshead Revisited, after which the lid on the toilet was put down and my clothes were put on the lid, a little touch-up work on the previous evenings shave was done with my Mach3, deodorant/antiperspirant was applied, teeth were brushed and I splashed and scrubbed my face with water to get rid of the eye boogers.
Then I removed my light blue Snoopy/JoeCool/Woodstock boxers which currently serve as my pj’s and replaced them with the Jockey briefs, followed by the socks and my 501’s.
A brief digression to give the reader an idea of the layout of the bathroom and my position in it.
I was standing facing the sink, over which is an oval shaped mirror, with 2 glass light fixtures about 1/2 up on either side of the mirror. The lights were on.
In the back right corner of the sink was a white ceramic toothbrush holder with 2 toothbrushes in it and a small drinking glass and a tube of Colgate toothpaste.
In the front left corner of the sink was a pair of tweezers and large pair of nail clippers.
To my left was the toilet with my T-shirt and turtleneck resting on the lid.
To my right was the bathroom door which was open about 1/2 way.
Behind me and slightly to my left was the bathtub/shower, complete with 2 sliding glass doors, which were both closest to me. On the floor in front of the tub was a bathmat, otherwise the floor was wood paneled. The floor had been washed and waxed on Friday the 21st, a process which leaves the floor quite slippery, especially if you are wearing socks, which I had just put on.
Now, back to our tale…
I was buttoning up my 501’s when something crawled out of the space between my briefs and my abdomen and stopped on my stomach.
Something shiny and black.
Something shiny and black and about an inch long.
Something shiny and black and about an inch long with 8 legs.
I’m not the kind of person who goes to pieces when events take a turn for the worse or when surprises, pleasant or not, rear their multi-tentacled bodies. I’ve been told that I’m steady and that I stay on a fairly even keel and that my calm/thoughful/reasoned/stoic/thoughtful behavior has helped to calm other people down. Back in January, thanks to the CPR training/certification that I recieved in December, I saved a man’s life, while people around me, were flailing their hands in the our and babbling mindlessly, and fainting.
In other words I don’t run around the room banging off the walls and furniture flailing my arms through the air, while emitting what can best be described as a mountain lions really bad imitation of an air raid siren when it has pneumonia and a head cold.
None of that foolishness for me.
I’m a rock.
Almost 90, no 95% of the time.
Unfortunately, the next few minutes fell into that other 5%.
My brain was looking at the shiny, black, inch long spider on my stomach and was thinking the following: “*There’s a *spider on our stomach. It fits the description of a black widow spider. ‘Shiny?’ ‘Check.’ ‘Black?’ ‘Check.’ ‘About an inch long?’ ‘Check.’ 'Red hourglass shape on it’s abdomen?’ 'Can’t tell, ‘cause it’s sitting face up, but I’d say it’s a better then 50% chance.’ *Well, it doesn’t have to be a * black widow, *it could be one of the other members of the * widow *family. Besides the * black widow *of which there are at least 3 different types, there is the * red widow, *and the * brown widow. *I think the * black widow *is the most venemous of all the * widows…”
While my brain was showing off to itself with all of the information it had on widow spiders, it’s control over my body was overthrown in a silent, painless coup, instigated by my spinal cord, instincts, reflexes, adrenal glands and automatic nervous system, with the fight or flight response along for the ride.
Will, is the name of the guy in charge of my spinal cord and involuntary nervous system. Due to cutbacks, 2 years ago he also took on supervisor duties for my reflexes and instincts. It’s actually a pretty good job, although he doesn’t have to do a lot as the systems tend to run themsleves very smoothly, everything pretty much runs on automatic pilot. For the last 3 years or so there haven’t been any major crisis or dramas to deal with, which has given Will a good bit of free time, which he fills by shooting some hoops, reading from the ever growing stack of graphic novels and books he has at his side, surfing the 'Net, indulging in his ongoing and never-ending quest for the worlds perfect Gin 'n Tonic and trying to learn how to play the sitar.
He also tries to catch up on the 10 years of naps that he didn;t get to take when he was 18-29.
So he falls occasionally asleep at his control desk.
I can understand that. I did the same thing occasionally back when I had an office job.
While my brain was thinking to itself, “There’s a spider on our stomach…”, milliseconds after my spinal cord registered that phrase, Will jerked awake, fell out of his chair and hit his head on the control desk. He didn’t even bother to stand up but flicked the EMERGENCY OVERRIDE switch that he had installed under the desk. Then he punched the big red EMERGENCY button in the center of the console, flicked the sound system and loudspeakers on and screamed into the microphone, “SPIDER!!! SPIDER!!! SPIDER!!! GET IT OFF!!! OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF!!! NOW!!!”
The human body can do amazing things when instinct, reflexes and adrenaline take over.
However, when you add the “fight or flight response” to the other 3, especially adrenaline, things tend to go to bits.
Things can get ugly and crazy very quickly.
Which is what happened to me.:eek:
At the same time that my spinal cord had pulled off its coup, in addition to everything else, it also got control of my speech center. This resulted in my yelling/screaming/yawping what my brain thought was coherent and understandable speech along the lines of "SPIDER!!! BLACK WIDOW SPIDER !!! Get it off!!! Now! Don’t just stand there, do something!!!", but what actually came out of my mouth was something that sounded approximately like this: "BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG - LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT - RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS - NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK - FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!! JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC - WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS - MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP - KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!
My right arm swept dwon across my stomach, apparently in an attempt to sweep the spider off my stomach. This it failed to do. Also, my arm swung with such force that my body was forced to turn so that it more or less was facing the toilet.
Did I mention that the floor had been washed and waxed and was therefore extra slippery, espeically if you were wearing socks?
I did? Good.
Did I mention that I was wearing socks?
I did? Good.
The socks caused me to slip on the wood floor and start falling to my left, towards the sliding glass shower doors.
The doors momentarily stopped my downward momentum, but then shattered and my fall was finally broken when I used my left arm as a brace against the tile wall on the far side of the tub. I straightened up and turned back to the mirror, while scraping both hands across my stomach in an attempt to scrape/squish the widow off of my stomach. My hands swept up off my stomach and shattered both light fixtures on either side of the mirror, plunging the room into mild darkness.
While all this was going on, I was continuing to warble/screech/scream like a very drunk and highly agitated lion.
I looked at my stomach. The widow wasn’t there. I looked at the walls, ceiling and floor. No sign of the widow.
Then I looked at my hands. There on the palm of my left hand, sat the widow. It looked like at least 2 of its legs were broken/damaged, which meant there seemed to be a good chance that it was pissed off, which could lead to it biting me.
I held my left hand over the sink, palm facing down at a slight angle. I formed an “O” with my right thumb and forefinger and flicked the widow off my palm into the sink, where it landed on it’s back.
On it’s abdomen was a red hourglass shape. It struggled to flip itself upright and I saw that 2 of its legs were indeed damaged. I turned on the faucet and splashed water on the widow and it disappeared down the drain, only to reappear. I splashed more water and managed to knock the toothbrush holder and glass into the sink where they both shattered. This time, when the widow disappeared down the drain it didn’t make a return appearence.
It took a good 5 minutes for me to get my breathing semi-under control, at which time I noticed that **A) **There was a lot of broken glass on the floor, in the sink and in the bathtub, B) There was a good deal of blood splattered on the walls, the toilet, the door, the mirror, the tub and the floor, C) I was bleeding quite heavily in at least 3 places on my left shoulder, left arm and left hand.
It was a bit tricky getting out of the bathroom without stepping on a shard of glass and slicing my foot open, but I managed. Then I called our next door neighbors and asked if they could come over because I had an accident/problem and I needed some help.
The final tally:
Cost of replacing 2 light fixtures and light bulbs: $378
Cost of cleaning up bathroom, including removing all glass shards and blood stains: $87
Cost of replacing two sliding glass shower doors (including installation): $855
Cost of a visit to the emergency room, which included having X-rays taken and an MRI, having 97 shards of glass removed from my left shoulder, left arm, head, and left hand, having 64 stitches sewn onto my left shoulder and left arm, a prescription for Demerol and all attendant hospital costs: $986
Sharing this embarassing tale with my Fellow Dopers: Priceless*
Don’t any of you dare to hold this over my head.