Along Came a Spider

Moving house is both fun and frustrating, but mostly it’s surprising. I’ve been told that on the list of most traumatic events, moving house is second only to a death in the family (divorce is third, in case you were wondering). I’m not quite sure it deserves that rank, but it is plenty surprising.

It’s surprising to see how much crap you can collect in three years. It’s a nice surprise to find some old and dear artefact that has been lost to the abyss of your study for the same three years or to realise you don’t care for things so much when you’re forced to throw them out while packing. It’s especially surprising to stare a giant African huntsman spider in the face on your first week in your new house.
The African huntsman spider. Or Eddie.

The African huntsman spider is more commonly known as the rain spider. This is because they like coming into houses just before it rains. Apparently they have a thing about getting wet. Kind of like how I feel about pop music, although I don’t intrude on other people’s privacy to get away from it.

When I noticed one of these eyeing me from the corner of our bedroom ceiling the other night I immediately started acting all macho about it in front of my wife.

“Never fear milady,” said I. “For this is but a humble rain spider. Harmless is he and more afraid of you than you of him. Watch as I courageously ignore his presence and continue about my evening.”

My wife was not convinced however, and forced me to fetch the laptop so we could look him up on Wikipedia. Turns out they’re very common where we live and there are probably a thousand of his cousins in the bush outside my window. They like dry places and if they get trapped in-doors are known to build nests from shredded tissues.

While the lights are on they don’t move around too much and instead cling to the wall devouring any hapless insect that happens to meander their way.

But once the lights are out they proceed to explore the house, crawling over things with much fascination. They can also ninja down from the ceiling using their webs and if provoked will raise their front legs and run towards you, causing you to soil your pants.

Luckily they are non-venomous and if bitten you will experience a pin-prick sensation that may be followed by slight swelling – but it’s not bad at all, unless you happen to be allergic to their venom.

For some reason I duck whenever I walk under the doorway where Eddie is perched. Oh, that’s the name my wife gave our new resident, by the way. It’s almost like spiders have some huge astral presence that touches our being on another plain and reduces us to trembling pansies at the sight of its miniscule physical manifestation which, while hairy, poses no logical threat. Be that as it may, I’m man enough to admit that I’m shit-scared of Eddie.

He’s obviously a little bit daft as rain spiders go, because he was in our house for three days without any rain. His lack of intellect offers me little reassurance though.

I was finally forced to remove him from our new house last night by my wife who was tired of having nightmares about him crawling on her face. We had been dousing ourselves with citronella-essence (apparently these spiders, like most gogos, do not like the miff scent of citronella) until then, but enough, said my wife, was enough and it was time for me to step up.

I begged. I pleaded. But she would hear none of it. My fate was to confront Eddie armed with a Tupperware box and sheet of paper – and remove him from the house. By force. If needs be.

Look, you don’t want to kill the oke – he eats mossies and other kak insects like Parktown prawns and roaches, which is rad of him. It’s seriously bad karma to go around just killing things because you don’t like how they look or make you feel.

So here’s the theory part: you calmly and slowly approach said spider with container in hand. You then place the container over the spider and hold it firmly in place. Next, you slide the paper between container and wall, trapping the spider inside. Then you calmly proceed to the garden and place the container on the grass where the spider is left to exit at his or her own leisure.

Your wife will then love you endlessly.

In practise this works differently. I held the Tupperware in my pale hand and stared at Eddie, mortified and immobilised by his very presence. I did a few practise-rounds on the wall and then tried some more begging and pleading with the wife.

Then I practised some more. Took some deep breaths, found a thicker piece of paper, did some more practising – and then finally confronted Eddie again.

Then I tried begging and pleading again. And then I practised again. And then I returned to Eddie’s corner.

Clutching the Tupperware box as though my mortal life depended on it, I gingerly approached the wall and rapidly snapped the tupperware over Eddie. He riggled into it and then rammed the side. At this point I almost fainted.

Taking a few seconds to compose myself, I brought up the paper in my other hand and slid it under the Tupperware. Then I made extra sure the paper was secure with my hand under it and moved the Tupperware away from the wall and proceeded to the front door as slowly and carefully as possible.

Apologising to Eddie, I threw the Tupperware and paper into the garden and quickly retreated back into the house. I moved so quickly that it felt like I teleported back inside.

I returned soon after with a broom so I could poke the Tupperware around and make sure that Eddie had left. I then scooped my weapons closer and retrieved them.

My wife was mildly impressed.

I suspect I will have to do this again in the near future and I hope it gets easier as time goes by. I suppose it’s a small price to pay for the awesome house I now live in, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

NOTE: It is now two days after I began writing this post and it’s raining outside. Apparently Eddie has superpowers, and I apologise for calling him daft. Profusely.

I'm a writer and broadcaster who also designs apps and strategies for disruptive startups in the financial world. Find out more on my about page.