Attack of the Spider Woman

One summer evening, I sat on my patio with friends from out of state. Our conversation was soon distracted as we watched a very industrious and creative spider construct an elaborate web from the patio chair to the guttering on the house. Not only was the guttering about eight feet above the chair, it was also about ten feet to the north of the chair. With no wind, obstacles, limbs, shrubs, or any fixture of any sort, this industrious spider managed to spin a thread on the diagonal of roughly 13 feet with no logical means of construction or support. We watched in amazement as the web expanded during the evening of conversation. As our eyes grew weary, we joked that we would check her progress in the morning.

As daylight peeked through the clouds, the dog woke me for a morning nature call. I stumbled outside and within moments, I accidentally walked through the intricate spider web. I felt terrible. How would I tell my friends that I walked through the web in a sleepy haze? The blunder was certainly unintentional, but, alas, I confessed my wayward walking over breakfast. We laughed over coffee. Little did I know who would have the last laugh.

From that day on, this spider began stalking me. She transitioned from weaving a web on the patio furniture to weaving a strand or two of web over the opening to my sliding glass doors. Now, every morning as I took the dog outside in the early morning sleepy haze, I was abruptly met with a spider web wrapped around my head, closely followed by an animated shimmy that quickly ensued. Every day.

The she-bitch spider didn’t stop there. She built webs over the door to the storage building, so every venture to get the lawnmower began with a spider web wrapped around my head. I pictured the little she-devil perched on a nearby ledge, watching me, laughing that evil spider-bitch laugh. She knew what she was doing.
One night, though, one night she went too far. I exited my patio doors into a full-body-sized spider web like something from a Stephen King novel. It nearly rendered me motionless in its death-grip. Immediately, arms were flailing, legs were flying, squeals were squealing as I danced a jig to make any Irish dancer jealous, all in the attempt to remove the spider web from my body. Then I saw her. She was perched on the end of the web that was still attached to the door, and she was moving fast toward me. During the next 60 seconds of crazy-dance, I lost sight of her.

“Oh, no! Oh, no! She’s in my hair!” I screamed in the privacy of my brain. I didn’t know that for sure, but she could have been.

“Get that thing out of my hair!” the voice in my head screamed. The dance grew more vigorous and likely much more entertaining for the neighbors. I spun around, shaking and shimmying, grasping at last remaining shreds of web and trying to throw them off of me. In that moment, I realized that spider webs cannot be thrown, given their base property of stickiness, a property I had not contemplated prior to that moment.

I spotted her again, sitting on the door jam. I decide to kill her. I picked up the closest thing to me – a stick from a rustic dried flower arrangement sitting by my patio door. I decided to hit her with the stick, devising that as a good plan in the thick of the moment. I swung the stick at her. As the stick swept through the air, I realized that spiders are familiar with nature and the sticks it produced. She must have jumped onto the stick with my first swing and glued herself to it, because I could see her latched onto it with the subsequent swings. I deduced that I should knock her off the stick and onto the patio before taking the death swing.

She must have sensed that. Rather than falling off the stick in the direction of the patio, she instead flew off in the opposite direction, which was directly at my hair. With all the vigor of hungry man on a cheeseburger, I attacked that spider-bitch with all I could muster. This, of course, meant that I was attacking my own head at the same time since the last I saw, she was flying toward my hair. Cussing, spinning, flailing, kicking (not sure why I was kicking, as she clearly was not at my feet) I had to get rid of that spider before she bit me and caused an appendage to rot off.

All the spinning and cussing sent the dog running to the back fence, and I suddenly remembered that I was outside to walk the dog. Not knowing whether the spider was hiding in my clothes, awaiting an opportunity to bite, I shed my T-shirt in a fit and began hitting it on the ground. Apparently, I was trying to dislodge any spider that might be hanging onto the fabric in an elaborate plan to attack me. All of this happened in less than a minute — from the initial walk into the web to the stripping off of my T-shirt and fervent beating of it on the ground. This spider-dance unfolded on my patio, in my backyard, with neighbors in easy view, wearing only shorts and a bra as I beat my clothing on the ground as my confused dog looked on. This was not good. I had to get back in the house, but I was afraid the spider was attached to me and would travel inside as a stowaway. I was also afraid the web itself was still covering some of the doorway and I would have to penetrate the “fortress of the web” again.

I gathered my shirt, the dog, and what was left of my dignity to walk into the house. I stripped off all remaining clothes in the kitchen and systematically beat them on the floor, trying to dislodge any spider that might have hitched a ride. After a few minutes, I was reasonably sure the spider did not come inside. The dog was hiding under the bed, and I headed to the liquor cabinet. The Lord knew, I needed a shot.

Lifting my drink to my lips, I saw it: that spider-bitch was outside my patio door, rebuilding her web.

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Rita Herrmann

Rita Herrmann lives in the Ozark Mountains with her two dogs. A lifelong writer, she's learned to draw deep understanding from simple moments. A good road trip with a great playlist is how she rolls. Her core beliefs include singing randomly, laughing often, living simply, and learning to forgive. Visit her at www.RitaHerrmann.com.