Ever since I was a little kid, I had an agreement with the spiders in my room: “If I need to get a stepstool to kill you,” I told them. “Then I’m not gonna kill you.”
This was a very fair arrangement. The spiders had the entire ceiling and a perimeter of about two feet of upper wall space on which to putter about. The spiders had more navigable square footage in my room than I did. All they had to do was stay up there — and much to my surprise, that’s exactly what they did. I don’t know if spiders understand English or what, but they always kept out of reach, spending their days weaving web hammocks the size of industrial fishing nets.
I liked the webs. I was fascinated by them. Late at night when I was unable to sleep, I would sometimes flop on my back, turn on the reading lamp clamped to my headboard, and puff a lungful of air skyward to watch the webs dance in the breeze. It was a serene and pleasant way to wait for sleep to overtake me.
I liked my spiders.
“Oh, my GOD, what is going on up there?” she announced one Saturday morning.
Saturday was cleaning day in the Allegra house. Every week without fail Mom would scrub the house from top to bottom. The only room she didn’t scrub was mine. That was my job. She might sometimes check to make sure I didn’t shirk this responsibility, but she didn’t have to worry about me much. I was a tidy kid and she knew it, so her snap inspections were largely ceremonial. She’d only glance to make sure the carpet was lint free and the bureaus wore a lemon-scented Pledge shine.
Until that day she looked up.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had all these webs up there?!”
When Mom took this kind of tone with me, my first instinct was to play dumb. “Hm?” I looked up and feigned surprise. “Oh. I… I never noticed.”
“Never noticed? You spend all day every day farting around in this room and you never, not once, looked up?”
As usual, Mom’s BS detector struck me mute.
“There’s more web than ceiling!”
Without another word she tromped down the hall, off to get her canister vacuum. Mom’s vacuum was an amazing machine. I have no idea where she had bought it, but it was a weapons grade force of nature, loud as a Harley and armed with enough suction to rip a hole in the fabric of space and time. Like Excalibur or Thor’s Hammer, I always had the sense that Mom was the only person on earth capable of wielding it.
And wield it she did. In an instant, the spiders with whom I had shared such a cordial cohabitation were sucked into oblivion.
I wasn’t exactly sad to see the spiders meet this fate — they weren’t my friends or anything — but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it all felt terribly unfair.
Now I’m a homeowner. Mom and her vacuum no longer hold sway over my life. But my views on spiders have hardened over the years. I kill them now. Often and with extreme prejudice.
I don’t exactly know when or how I changed. Maybe it has something to do with me getting older and crankier. Maybe it’s because I am no longer charmed by the entertainment value of a web hanging over my bed. Or maybe it’s because — like my Mom before me — I do most of the housecleaning. Those webs really do make a house look filthy, don’t they?
But that’s a pretty shallow reason to commit murder, really.
Maybe someday my views will shift back to where they once were. My eyes are getting worse; maybe the webs won’t bother me so much if I can no longer see them so well. Maybe I will rediscover my childlike sense of wonder. Or maybe, with a little work and a little patience, I can learn to follow the philosophy of Live and Let Live.
It’s a nice thought.
But in the meantime, spiders take note: I have a stepstool and I’m prepared to use it.
61 Replies to “Spidey Senses”
Do you have young children? . . . just saying . . . You may be capturing and carrying spiders outdoors someday. Claudia
I have a son who is 15 now. But when he was a wee one, he was VERY pro-spider murder.
Yes, the teen years, life in the fast lane. . . just saying . . . I enjoy your post. Claudia
Thanks so much!
Good to see a post from you
Thanks for coming back, Amy! I had no idea I’d be gone for so long.
Time to build a barn (aka spider shanty) and get a piglet…
Better get a backyard bigger than a postage stamp first.
Hey it’s October!! They are Halloween decorations for now!! Givem a break!!
Have missed you……….don’t be such a stranger….xoxo
Great to hear from you, my friend! I have been gone a lot longer than expected.
But I won’t be a stranger no more!
*shrugs* Yeah, I guess.
*gives him a gold star for being here today*
Great to hear from you again!
It’s great to hear from you too, Becky! Sorry I’ve been away for so long!
Well, sir! You’ll be happy (or unhappy) to know that we adopted a spider during the early stages of the pandemic, allowing him/her to build a substantial web in a high dining area window. Sometimes we fed it insects. And sometimes we’d blow on the web to watch it come out of the crack by the window where it hid, thinking that something had landed in its web. Nothing like good old-fashioned home entertainment. But then one day we noticed that it had kicked the bucket, as spiders often do, when it reached old age. We held a memorial service in the dining area and left its web as a monument to its industriousness. One of these days, perhaps when COVID is no longer a thing, we’ll remove its monument and get on with our lives. Until then, we’ll continue the live and let die policy…..
Then you should be a David Sedaris fan! He wrote an essay about his obsession with the spiders in his house. I think it was titled “April in Paris.” (April was the name of the spider, you see.)
Your room would have been a death trap to me. For some reason spiders like to bite me and I have severe reactions when they do. It is scary stuff. It was wonderful to hear from you even if it was spidery stuff.
So that’s why you live in Canada. The further south you go, the bigger the spiders get.
And, just for you, I’ll promise to write about more pleasant stuff in the next post.
Heheheh, as long as I am just reading about it, I can handle anything!
I don’t hate spiders…but I don’t love them either – unless it’s a Daddy Long Legs. I’ve rescued quite a few from going down the drain in my shower. They’re a lovely delicate critter. Any other spider is fair game for my shoe or slipper. I love spider webs outside when the dew is on them. They’re just so delicate and pretty sparkling in the early morning sunlight. Maybe you should write a story about a nice spider. The spider drawing at the top of the page is totally charming 🕸🕸
Actually, I think it is high time someone wrote a picture book about a honey badger.
chasing a spider? 😁
And where would Charlotte be without her web? BtW: spiders and their value in kid lit—sounds like a debatable topic, eh?
Eh… We’ll see…
A very nice post!! I bet the spiders in your room appreciate you letting them live so long!
Probably, But I’m sure they saw the vacuum as the ultimate betrayal.
My spidey sense tells me you’re tellin’ a Halloween story, and that actually, you can be seen tiptoeing at night, gently carrying a little ole spikey from ceiling to the outdoors, whispering, “be well, little one!” How do I know this? Look at your doodle – it’s showing great spidey love.
SO GREAT SEEING YOU BACK HERE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE!
Oh, it’s so nice to be back, my friend!
But don’t assume I have a love for spiders because of my doodle. Allegra doodles tend to skew toward cuteness no matter what the subject. Remember when I doodled a picture of a head louse?
Your agreement with spiders was much more lenient than mine.
Mine states, if you live outside and don’t try to come in, you can live. If you’re on my door trying to come in, or you’re in the house, you die. And this goes for anything that is alive, other than my husband, our children and grandchildren. No mice, no bugs, no dirt. I think that pretty much covers it.
Glad to see you again.
Ooh, you don’t take no guff!
No mice either, huh? You better not read this post then: https://mikeallegra.com/2014/01/07/moxie-and-roxie/
Darn it Mike. Of course I read it, because you said I’d better not. lol
No. I am not a fan of mice at all. They’re dirty, use the entire house/world as their toilet, and chew up nice thing, not to mention the disease they carry.
I raised 3 boys. 3 very “lively” boys. I once answered the door to a dead squirrel in my face. Evidently, my middle son thought I needed some guff. I did not react which burst his little bubble, but I knew from having brothers, you never let them smell your fear.
Have a good evening!
Dang! You had kids that collected a dead squirrel to “give you guff”! There must be a parenting award for that sort of thing.
Jas, you and I have the same disclaimer for any bug that trespasses! 😀 https://writersideup.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/bugs-bug-me-for-writersideup.pdf
Bah ha ha ha ha ha. writersideup, I loved the ending!
JAS, thanks! It’s the one thing that would keep it from getting published for kids! lol Well, so I’m told, though I really don’t see an issue with it lol
Okay, not gonna lie: that amount of webs on your bedroom ceiling sounds horrifying. When I was a kid, I would always make my bed, not because I was into tidiness, but because I didn’t want any spiders crawling in there while I was away. I would not trust the little bastards to stay in their space.
Fun read, though. Where you been? Had totally been thinking of you recently, now here you are!
Hi Becks! So sorry for being gone so long. My plan was to put the blogging on hold while we were all in pandemic mode…and, well, it was reeeeeally easy to fall out of the habit. I spent my 20-month hiatus writing kid lit, but I’ll be talking about that a bit more in 2022. (Foreshadowing!)
As for your childhood spider precautions, did you not realize that spiders can snuggle under covers?
Looking forward to the foreshadowed kid lit announcement!
Your last sentence made me shudder, literally.
But you’re over that spider phobia now, right?
I smash without prejudice.
I respect this.
My face totally lit up when I saw Hey, look! A Writer Fellow! in my inbox 😀 First, it’s just nice to know you’re OK 🙂
I have to tell you, I saw “Spidey Sense” and was expecting something related to the MCU lol I literally only became a first-time fan about a month ago, never having watched ANY of those movies, then caught up within a couple weeks. Blown away! Then I see this cute little spider (the ONLY type I could consider cute) and wonder what you were going to get at. Now, did I expect a canopy of spider webs? Definitely not! lol
For me, if it’s not Charlotte, Miss Spider, or Itsy Bitsy, I’m not a spider–or bug–person lol I don’t want ANY bug touching my skin or anything else. Thank goodness I no longer run with flailing arms and screaming from anything that flies and stings, but I could NEVER fall asleep knowing a bug was ANYwhere in my bedroom lol
And speaking of Arthur and Thor, though Cinderella didn’t actually wield her glass slipper, she was the only one it fit. I too wielded a vacuum concerning bugs, but always wondered if they could survive in there and when I emptied it would emerge lol And even though I was glad they were out of my living space, felt bad figuring they were suffering somehow That’s why anytime I kill a bug, I try to be efficient–swift and complete with one WHACK!
I already put the link in a comment, but THIS is how I feel about bugs (though webs ARE fascinating and I love painting them on kids’ arms and faces 🙂 — https://writersideup.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/bugs-bug-me-for-writersideup.pdf — There was a contest, I hadn’t written in a while and it was for a poem up to 20 lines, I think. Can’t remember! But this is what came out because a bug kept me awake much longer than I’d wanted to be the night before lol
Anyway, what a treat you putting up a blog post…even if it IS about creepy crawlies 😉
Oh, and…please ignore the less-than-perfect meter…wasn’t shooting for perfection back then! But I DID get the point across lol
Tis a fine poem, my friend! And, as you may know, I am no stranger to writing odes to icky things (under duress, mind you).
My Dad has a similar phobia about sucking up bugs in the vacuum. He was never entirely sure if the critters would later emerge — dustier, angrier, and eager to exact sweet revenge.
Mike, I hadn’t seen that one! lol LOVE it!
This was so cute. Children are so innocent. The way they look at the world amazes me, and I wish as an adult I could still look at the world they do. The spiderwebs you now destroy brought you such joy before. Just imagine finding yourself being so fascinated by a spider web again. Hard to believe isn’t it?
I did undergo quite a swift transition. Tis the price of getting older I suppose.
Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I too have conflicted feelings towards spiders.
I know just what you mean. Spiders don’t mean us any harm…but EWWW!
It’s so great to see a post from you, Mike. I love your description of your mom and her vacuum. I can just imagine the doodle. My house is spider-friendly until the sun is at just the right angle and they turn silver and spooky. Happy Halloween.
Oh, it’s so good to hear from you, D. Wallace! And, yeah, my Mom (armed with her vacuum) was no one to trifle with.
Have a glorious and spider-friendly Halloween, my friend!
MIKIE!!!!! Soo good to see you back in the blog world. I am a complete failure. I haven’t posted anything in over a year, but I still follow you and a few others. Love to read your posts!!
As for spider stories, I have a few. I am completely fascinated with them. Now, I do not want them INSIDE my house, but if I find one (provided it isn’t dangerous) I will get a piece of paper or something for it to crawl onto and take it outside. But if they are OUTside, I’m good. In fact, I love the big garden spiders and I will take care of their webs and even feed them crickets or other bugs. They are a good thing to have around. I have many stories but my latest one is the garden spider that came and sat by my office window the day she died. She had a web on one of my side windows but left there after leaving her sack and came to hang out with me, then she was gone. I have several photos of her. I know I’m weird.. but “normal” is boring! 😂😂😂😂😂
I’m with you. I’m fine with any outside thing that stays outside. I own a home to keep the outside out. So when the outside comes in, well, I get murder-y. (Unless it’s a mouse, of course, I’d never hurt those fuzzy, widdle angels!)
I knew you were weird!! That is why we be friends!! 😀
Courtney, you’re not weird 😀 Bugs really ARE fascinating—and necessary! God doesn’t create haphazardly :). The only ones I don’t really get creeped out by are little ants OUTside the house, and maybe ladybugs lol…if I see them in documentaries or commercials, I flip stations imMEDiately! lol
Ladybugs?? Seriously?? But they’re so CUTE!! AND good luck!! I don’t want an infestation of them of course, but I don’t mind one or two. Ants are E V I L!! I will have to agree with you on that one!! 😉
lol Courtney, I said I can handle ladybugs and only watching little ants OUTside lol That’s about it. Bugs are NOT my thing lol