In the world according to Nicola, there should be a school of etiquette established for huntsman spiders. All young huntsmen would be required to compulsorily attend said educational facility upon reaching the age of adolescent spider insolence.
And at the school – where the spidery-students would never have to worry about having enough arms to carry their lunch-box, iPad, Spiderman comic and Webster’s dictionary at the same time – the number one lesson of the day would forever be: How to not scare the shit out of human beings.
Anyone who lives in Australia knows what terror it is to come face-to-face with a huntsman spider. And not only are they big and hairy, they are bloody ugly. So ugly in fact that if there was ever a Miss Spider of the World competition, they would be highly unlikely to even get past the swimsuit round.
A few weeks ago, while I was driving to my mother’s for dinner on a Friday night (yes, what an exciting life I do lead) a huntsman spider that was at least the size of a dinner-plate, possibly even the size of my own head, decided to sexily saunter across the inside of the driver’s-side window while I was waiting impatiently to get across a particularly loathsome intersection. Being the chilled personality that I am, naturally I screamed. Quite loudly.
It’s fair to say that my very brave reaction caused my brother in the passenger seat (who at 30 really should have had something better to do on a Friday night) to have a mini-stroke. Helpfully, he yelled at me to try and find out why I had completely and utterly lost my shit in my car in the dark on the outskirts of Brisbane. Maturely, I screamed back, motioning towards the eight-legged creature that now, to me, seemed perilously close to my cranium.
Just at that moment, the traffic gods smiled upon me (or did they?) and a gap finally opened up. I knew I had to take it but at the same time my brother eyeballs must have fallen upon the offending eight-legged creature of doom and he let out a rather un-masculine-like squeal.
Thankfully, he quickly re-found his ball sack, and started yelling at me to pull over, but I had already committed to fanging across the intersection. But while I did so, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the huntsman – obviously sans any type of etiquette training whatsoever – wandering onto the window-screen and scurrying towards the passenger side of the car. Where my brother was sitting.
Now as many of you will know, huntsman spiders are able to travel extremely fast, often using a springing jump while running, and they can walk on walls, on ceilings, and definitely on car windscreens in the night-time to make them look even more scary. This ability to move quickly meant that the huntsman, let’s called him Harry, was travelling much faster across the windscreen than my poor beleaguered car, Betsy, could ever hope to muster – especially when she had a stowaway onboard.
It seemed like an eternity, but within about 20 seconds I was over the intersection, had chucked a hard left, then pulled a hand-brakey (not really but it makes me sound much cooler) and screeched to a halt on the side of the road.
As soon as the car stopped, my brother and I were out of it so fast anyone who knows me, or him for that matter, would’ve quite rightly assumed there was some type of mythical, free all-you-can-drink stall on the side of the road – complete with loads of hot dudes.
Outside of the car, we continued to scream at each other, at Harry, at Betsy, and definitely at the Situation. While my brother smoked, I utilised the iPhone torch app to try to hunt down the huntsman that was hiding in my car. I soon discovered Harry was now nonchalantly hanging out on the side of the dashboard, no doubt pleased with himself for hitching a ride from inner-city Brisbane to the leafy eastern suburbs – for zilch.
Well, in my books there’s no such thing as a free ride, so after failing spectacularly to convince my brother to do his sibling duty and reunite Harry with the wilderness, I had to go Plan B which unfortunately involved me somehow expunging an arachnid from the confines of my car.
Feeling very much like a feminist warrior, on par with a Suffragette or at least Germaine Greer, I found a very big, long stick, and took up my offensive position about one metre from the car. With my brother’s gentle urging of “just fucken get rid of it” in the background, I positioned said stick above Harry’s head and then, well, I smacked him as hard as I bloody could. Unfortunately, simultaneously, I also closed my eyes.
We think Harry ended up on the road. He certainly wasn’t in the car. We checked. Thoroughly. Twice.
You see, that’s why I think there should be a Huntsman’s School of Etiquette. Harry wouldn’t have ended up with a bump on his head – or possibly worse. In fact, if he’d had some social conditioning, he would’ve just stayed in the backseat for the trip and my brother and I would’ve been none the wiser about our extra hairy passenger.
But most importantly, if huntsmen had some etiquette, us humans could keep our street cred and possibly even our illusion of bravery just that little bit longer.
Postscript: Long before this latest huntsman episode, I had thought about writing a children’s (or perhaps adult’s) book on the Huntsman’s School of Etiquette. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea!