Okay, so you need to know that many years ago I took to calling spiders “Welshmen,” after a manner of speaking.
Actually, I called them Cymru, which to the best of my knowledge should be pronounced koom-roo. It essentially means “Countrymen” or “Neighbors,” and is the Welsh name for themselves. The Romans Latinized the word as “Cambria,” which is the Cambrian era’s namesake.
I referred to spiders in this way because I wanted to emphasize to the bipedal members of our community (myself included) that spiders, despite their octopedalism, are extremely valuable members of the (aforementioned) community. That is: they exert all their energy to eating other bugs which we would find even more creepy and distressing than we aready find our eight-legged housemates.
However, unlike the spinmeisters of the Minitrue — or, say, Republicans — a new name doesn’t necessarily change how I think of the referent. Seriously, spiders creep me out big time.
The other thing you need to know is that I was home alone for much of last week while Ana was Back East. When you’re home alone, everything is a little scarier. Noises less identifiable. Shadows darker. And so on. So when a spider spent several hours making a slow clockwise circuit of the master bedroom ceiling the evening of the first night I was alone, I knew I was in a real bind: I could neither kill it, nor cohabit the same room. I made up the living room couch, turned up the heat, and hunkered down, abandoning the master bedroom to the spider’s best efforts to catch a good dinner.
But when I checked in on my new housemate the next morning, I found it had not retired to some undisclosed location but instead had settled in to a spot directly over the headboard. There it stayed all day. I knew something had to give. Would I transgress a commandment? As bedtime approached, I struggled (over a bourbon or two) with this profound moral quandary. My mantra has always been: Six legs bad, eight legs good (but two legs better). Would I kill my neighbor, or spend another night on the couch?
I’m ashamed to admit that the otherwise obvious third option didn’t present itself to my addled little brain until quite late that evening. A glass and a sheet of paper, and out the front door it went. Happy hunting, Shelob.