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Satan’s Littlest Pet Shop

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Every time I try to tell someone about the big spider I saw in my house, I hear something along the lines of, “Oh, I know, I had one the size of a dime in my kitchen!” And I listen politely, because in the past, before I lived in the house American Horror Story was surely based off of, I would have freaked out at a dime-sized spider, myself. Heck, I would have freaked out at a spider the size of the ball in a ballpoint pen, because that is how much I used to dislike spiders.

I used to be terrified of spiders. As it turns out, living in your worst nightmare actually dulls your fears quite a bit. When we moved into our current residence, a 1917 brick farmhouse on the edge of our village (and yes, it’s really a village, and yes, I often am gripped with the desire to call out, “Bonjour! Good day! How is your family?” while I’m walking my kids to school because of this fact), I thought, “Aha, good brick house, Michigan basement, nice barn with eaves for the spiders to play in. I bet we won’t see a single one in the house.”
Then, one day, when I had a rare afternoon to myself to make the house look lovely, I lit some candles, made myself a pot of tea, and settled onto my comfy couch to watch North and South and lust over Richard Armitage. Unfortunately, this little fellow had something of the same idea:
Keep in mind, that’s not a doll-house sized spoon. It’s not even an average American household teaspoon. It’s of the larger “tablespoon” variety. Remember that scene in The Princess Bride, where Humperdink puts The Machine on full power and Wesley screams so loud and so long the entire kingdom hears it? And Inigo Montoya is like, “That is the sound of ultimate suffering?” That is pretty much the exact sound I made as I leapt from the couch and barricaded myself in my office.
I figured this spider was so freakishly huge, it had to be a one-time deal. I live in the United States, and while I have no hard numbers on the subject, jingoistic American pride gives me a hunch that we lead in spider poison technology. We bombed the house for good measure, and that was the end of it.
No, it wasn’t. Who the fuck am I kidding? A few days after the bombing, I had this encounter:
Again, not a Barbie cigarette lighter. Do they even make those? I hope not. That would be just awful, if they did. I would be writing some letters. No, that’s my lighter, which I keep in the bathroom because I occasionally like to smoke in the shower, and the click-style lighters are the only ones who will light with water flying everywhere.
I’m a complicated and enigmatic figure, okay?
The terror didn’t stop there:
Now, just in case you think that this is the same spider, and it’s a pet of mine, and I pose him for these photos, I can assure you that you’re a fucking lunatic. Who in their right mind would keep one of these in their house willingly? Look at the size of it! Even my KISS lighter is scared. And it has the power of rock on its side.
At least they weren’t all absolutely huge. This guy was small enough to ride on a quarter:
Oh, shit, wait. That’s not a quarter. For those of you unfamiliar with American currency, that is a fifty cent piece. That’s 30.6 mm in diameter. No, that spider is still way too big to live in my house.
Soon, spider photography became a sick obsession for me. I don’t know why I feel compelled to document every freakish Chernobyl accident victim spider in my house, but I started almost looking forward to the next spider sighting. I tried to keep a prop on me at all times, so I could document their relative size, but sometimes they got into tricky spots. Like the edge of this very beaten up wooden cupboard in my kitchen:
That’s the fearless hand of my three-year-old daughter. We thought it would be funny to name her Wednesday Addams. I’m convinced that the ancient power of names and associations are what resulted in a preschooler who finds these arachnid invaders “adorable.” She has been known to “play” with them, letting them run over her hands and petting them until they bite her or escape. Many people who have seen these pictures have insisted they are brown recluse spiders, but we believe they are either Wolf or Nursery spiders, as their bites have never proven venomous.
But even if they’re not poisonous, they are still creepy. And busy. Every morning when I go into the bathroom, it’s like I’m busting through the nightmare tape at the finish line of an eight-legged marathon from hell. Have you ever actually tasted spider web? I have. Because I have accidentally gotten that large a quantity of spiderweb in my fucking mouth. I no longer stagger, yawning, into my bathroom.
Now, for a while I had reached this place of zen about spiders. I would occasionally high-five them when I found them, and I’d point finger guns at them and say, in a “I’m just kidding around, pal,” kind of way, “Okay, don’t crawl on me, or I’ll fucking kill you!” But I meant it. And I’m pretty sure they knew it, because they upped their game considerably. Doing things like hanging suspended just above the light switches in darkened bathrooms:
“Go ahead, flip on the lights over the vanity. I dare you,” he seems to be saying. “You were gonna pluck your eyebrows, but I have a feeling you’re starting to dig the natural look.”
Then this morning I saw something that rekindled my mortal dread of spiders. I went into the laundry room, where I saw this:
That is the spider’s size in relation to a full grown cat. Sure, it’s a big spider. That’s pretty gross. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was what I didn’t capture on my cell phone’s grainy 1970’s porno quality camera. The worst part was that spider? 
Was eating cat food.

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  1. Anonymous

    This post is funny as hell and also introduced me to Richard Armitage. I decided to check out North and South after seeing you mention it here, and daaaamn. He's so fine I watched the whole first season of Robin Hood, and that show sucked. Even the promise of seeing him couldn't get me to watch more than one season.

    And I sympathize with your spider problem. Our house has so many bugs it's like having our own personal 24/7 entomology exhibit.

    May 7, 2013
    • Lieke

      Yes, Richard Armitage is fine, right? I also discovered him in North and South and then stupidly bought the first season of Robin Hood. That show does indeed suck. It has so much potential and it’s all wasted in the execution. Second season? No thanks.

      September 22, 2013
      • Kitkat

        I love Richard Armitage, but was first introduced to him by The Hobbit movies. Now, of course, I am also obsessed with North and South.

        April 28, 2020
  2. Wow – if you think those spiders are big, DO NOT LIVE IN AUSTRALIA 😉

    May 10, 2013
  3. Melissa

    We get similar spiders here in Ohio. At least we do in the foresty area where I live. FYI, wolf spiders are large and hairy, but they don’t build webs. They chase down their prey! I know, ewwww! They are, of course, very fast. I’m not sure what you have there but it’s likely harmless even though it’s creepy.

    October 19, 2013
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    February 6, 2014
  5. Amy

    We have something charming called Huntsman spiders in Texas. They’re about the same size as a wolf spider, but they carry their babies (their thousands of babies) around with them on their backs. And if you try to kill them, they sic their babies on you. The last time this happened, we nearly lit our house on fire and moved to Alaska, because Grizzly bears are significantly less scary.

    July 31, 2014
    • T

      And…. that officially takes Texas off the list of places I want to move to.

      December 8, 2014
    • Annie

      Yup, I’m in Texas too and was thinking “I hope Jen never runs in to a huntsman.”

      I live in a part of the state that has tarantulas. I’ve never seen one in my house (thank GOD!), but I’ve come across them at night while walking my dogs and they freak me the hell out.
      Even more scary, though, is coming across a tarantula hawk. That’s a flying insect that eats tarantulas. IT EATS TARANTULAS! It also has the most painful sting of any insect in North America. It’s basically a big flying can of Nope!

      All that said, I have a very irrational fear of wolf spiders. They’re common here in houses, especially in the dry seasons (and we just got past a years long drought, so that was fun). The damn things will run towards you at top speed and they can jump and leap. They scare the bejesus out of me. When I see one, I usually end up locking myself, my dogs and my kid in my bedroom until my husband can assure me the coast is clear.

      July 13, 2015
  6. T

    I’m not arachnophobic, but I’m sure I would be if I had that swarm in my house. (I’m in Michigan, too, by the way.)

    Also, spider size…
    Knowing it’s “harmless” doesn’t make it any less creepy when it’s hanging out right next to the door.

    December 8, 2014
  7. Jumeaux

    Okay I was kind of loling the whole time. I myself am arachnophobic but I live in Australia. Those spiders are freaking teeny tiny. Mind you, I am scared of spiders that size but that’s nothing.

    The photo with the hand I though “that’s a decent size” but as soon as you said it’s your three year olds I was like “seriously?”

    When I was a child there was a huntsman spider the size of a dinner plate in my room. No joke, it’s body was as thick as a normal sized carrot.

    Please don’t ever come to Australia 😛

    February 12, 2015
  8. Addy

    I know this post is old, but if you are curious they seem to be funnel web spiders. So nothing dangerous but scary as hell to look at. We’ve had them in our house before.

    February 19, 2015
  9. Funaria

    For the first time, I’m glad that many of your pictures don’t work anymore.

    September 30, 2015
    • Kate

      So glad there are no pictures.

      October 2, 2016

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