Crouching spider, leaping tiger

Our house is on a hill. Off of the kitchen is a second-story deck that hangs on the high side of the house overlooking the neighbors down the hill and our patio and back yard. Our cats hang out on this deck, enjoying the dulcet breezes of summer evenings.

The orange cat and Tillie enjoying their perch on top of the barbie. Sudden loud noises are apparently the last thing they expect.

The orange cat and Tillie enjoying their perch on top of the barbie. Sudden loud noises are apparently the last thing they expect. Photo credit Angela.

While Angela was in the middle of a sentence tonight, her eye chanced to fall upon a wolf spider of unusually large proportions crawling along the carpet next to the wall, about to enter the kitchen from the living room. Her face contorted and her voice went all gutteral and high.




I saw that her gaze was fixed on a particular spot directly behind me, and the adrenaline began to shoot outward from wherever it comes from into all my limbs. I braced myself for horror unspeakable, maybe the icy hand of Death on my collarbone.

Angela jumped up from her chair, almost by involuntary convulsion, and I turned to see the monstrous arachnid flapping its huge legs as it approached. It was as big as a volkswagen.

“I need a shoe,” I said, looking around frantically, but I was in the cul-de-sac of the kitchen, and we don’t keep any footwear in there. Angela was by the hallway, though, and managed to duck out to fetch a hefty sole. The eight-legged invader came on, threatening to cut me off from Angela’s return route, but she appeared again quickly.

“I brought you two different kinds!” she said, handing over one of her dance shoes and a slipper.

I chose the slipper — more flat surface area, a bit of give for an even slap — crouched low, took aim. You don’t want to muff a shot like this, because these bastards can really haul.

I paused, reflecting on the fact that I was about to terminate a life.

The slipper came down with a sharp, firecracker-like pop. Outside on the deck, our new cat started and fell off the railing. We didn’t see this happen, but no sooner had the slipper slapped the floor and issued its percussive report than we heard a quick and unsuccessful clawing at the corrugated fiberglass deck siding as the cat slid past it and hit the compost bin down below on the patio.

The “orange cat” (as I call him because I don’t like the name he came with which the girls are now using despite the fact that we all agreed to rename him Willoughby) has never been outside the house in the two and a half months we’ve had him. Suddenly he was catapulted into another world. I went down to look for him, and busted him out by the patio furniture. Although the spider did not survive this strange bifurcated event, the cat was fine.

We’ve been breaking out in snorts and chortles all evening over this.

Acknowledgment: The title for this post was Angela’s idea.


9 Responses to “Crouching spider, leaping tiger”

  1. 1 Louis July 22, 2009 at 12:42

    “and over Edom I will cast my shoe”

    Honestly, that spider had no business being in your kitchen.

    The title of this posting is brilliant. The spider’s comparison to a volkswagen made my day…and it just started!..

    Remember the little containers of Lucerne (or was it Darigold?) which featured a swirl of vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet? Willougby reminds me of that ice cream.

    Well done recreating this hilarious moment of chaos in your kitchen!

    • 2 jstwndrng July 22, 2009 at 16:04

      Over Edom, quite right. I hadn’t even realized the connection (sharp of you, Lou!), and doubtless our little fly-catching friend missed it too, or he’d have been less eager to tresspass the domain demarcated by the reach of our slipper.

      I see what you mean about the orange cat. I do call him “creamcicle” sometimes. Angela thought up the post title.

      The VW bit is my homage to the fact that at one time it seemed everything in comic writing was compared in size to a Volkswagen. When I drove across the U.S. in my ’67 Bug and encountered potholes in Illinois that actually were the size of Volkswagens, this became problematic. It’s also a nod to W. Allen’s line (in “Annie Hall” I think) about “a spider the size of a Buick in there!”

  2. 4 scott July 22, 2009 at 14:26

    Wow this makes me want a cat.
    And this post made me laugh out loud–and I don’t usually laugh in the mornings…

  3. 6 Marni July 22, 2009 at 17:11

    I once had a pizza delivered just so the delivery person could kill the spider on my wall. In my defense, it really was as big as a Volkswagen…I’m just sure of it. Thanks for the laugh Matthew! I love your cats- I miss my next door cat who used to visit every day and “talk” to me; he looked alot like “creamsicle” and I called him Kitty even after I found out his name was Tommy, because that just seemed too obvious and wrong!

    • 7 jstwndrng July 26, 2009 at 20:02

      For some reason I picture that as an episode of Friends, but now I think about it, it sounds more like you 🙂

      • 8 Marni July 29, 2009 at 16:36

        What’s embarassing is not that you picture it as a sitcom episode but how sitcomy it really was- the pizza delivery person shows up, but it’s not a big burly guy all prepared to step in and save the damsel in distress from the puppy-sized spider on her wall- no, it’s a petite little woman pizza delivery person…who I still asked to kill the puppy-sized spider on my wall. And she did. I tipped her $20. The shame. The shame.

      • 9 jstwndrng July 29, 2009 at 17:14

        Gotta do whatcha gotta do, right?

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