Location: Salinas, CA
Age: 40
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"Only two things are infinite--the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt

"I'm not as think as you confused I am." Someone, somewhere, at some time

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Saturday, March 19, 2005
Smash and grab

The second negative experience with spiders that popped into my head occurred when I was about 16.  And it was, without doubt, the most physically traumatizing experience with arachnids I've ever had.  Heck, it's the most physically traumatic experience with any non-human life-form I've had.  And you're listening to someone who's been bitten on the chin by a horse, been thrown more than once from a horse, and gored by a cat.  Damn cat.  But that's another story.  This is also probably the spider story I most enjoy re-telling, as it demonstrates just how dangerous these little bastards can be.

We had moved into a new (to us) house about a year prior.  The deck, while fairly solid, was rather ugly.  And it contained a redwood hottub.  A hottub which had not been well taken care of.  So, after the family had gotten really tired of getting splinters while soaking, sitting on half-rotten benches, and frequently having to drain & refill said hottub due to water pollution from the various things growing in the wood, it was decided to junk the tub and get a new fiberglass one.  This, however, required the complete removal and rebuilding of the entire deck.  No great loss, since as stated before, it wasn't all that eye-pleasing.  The tear-down part of the project was a great stress reliever.  Could have really used a project like that last year, when dealing with the crap from my old job.  But I digress.  Whoever built the thing decided to try and make it as permanent as possible.  Every surface board was secured to each and every joist by at least 3 nails.  And these were the kind of nails with the grooves in the shaft, so they don't pull out.  And to make things even more interesting, it was anchored to a decent sized concrete patio that it butted up against.

So basically, I got to wail on this deck with crowbars, cat's paws, various sized sledge hammers, and even a sawsall.  At one point during the rip and shred, I ran into some difficulties detatching one section from the patio.  My main plan of attack to this point for that general area had been to wail on things with a 3-lb sledge until it loosened up, pull it apart with the cat's paw, then cut any protruding rebar down so it was flush with the concrete.  Well, after wailing on this one section of decking for a while with little to no results, I decided to take a closer look at what was holding it together.  So, get down on my hands and knees on the ground, place my left hand on what remained of the decking, and stuck my nose under/around the section to see what the hang up was.  And as I'm trying to figure out how best to rip all the massive anchoring out (man, whoever put that thing together obviously never planned on it ever being taken apart again), I felt a tickling and slight weight on my left hand.

So, obviously I took a look.  I should probably stop looking when I feel a tickling on my hand, because in my experience it usually turns out to be something I really don't want to notice.  In this particular case, it was a rather large wolf spider happily crawling accross my hand.  Now, for those of you not familiar with wolf spiders, take a look here and maybe you'll understand my reaction.  Now, I am assured that wolf spiders are harmless to people, despite their rather intimidating looks.  I really don't care.  It was big (about 1 1/2" body).  It was hairy.  It was an arachnid.  And it was on my hand!  So I did what any sane and responsible person would do.  I quickly smashed it with my right hand.  Of course, a sane and responsible person would have let go of the 3-lb sledge first.  Yeah, spider guts everywhere.  And me with a hand that, for the time being, was about half the thickness it was supposed to be.  No worries though, since within hours it had swollen to about three times the thickness it should have been.  And became all sorts of colorfull blues, blacks and purples.  Amazingly, there were no broken bones.  But I still effectively lost use of my left hand for about two weeks.  Which, of course, didn't get me out of helping rip the deck apart. 

Of course, I did refuse to go anywhere near the deck again until my dad used napalm to exterminate any of Big Bad Wolfie's relatives who might be seeking payback for my splattering him to the four winds.  Well, okay . . . I suggested napalm, but settled for two treatments of the most potently poisonous commercially available spider killer we could lay our hands on.  But again, I knew this was obviously not the cause of my arachnaphobia, since they bugged me (no pun intented) well before that.  But it definitely didn't endear them to my heart either.

Posted at 3/19/2005 7:38:18 am by PhilM

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