The tarantula in the can

Wednesday, 14 September 2005

New Mexican tarantual.

We were hanging around in front of Cort’s dorm. He returned from an upstairs discussion with a couple of football players for my help. Huge, powerful, beautifully carved men. They needed help with a tarantula that had somehow got loose from somebody and was in the bathroom. Cort knew I’d kept them as pets on several occasions.

The two guys were acting like a 1953 advertisement featuring a woman, a chair, and a mouse; acting like a horse that smells fire. They were skittish, humming with nerves. Could almost see their muscles sending twitch ripples through their skin. They could not bring themselves to even look in the bathroom again; pointing from the hall.

I went in the bathroom. Looked around. Ah, there you are.

A garden variety, innocuous Southwestern tarantula. There is none in the world that is dangerous to a healthy adult. I don’t know the species for sure but probably Aphonopelma sp if the Wikipedia tarantula page is correct. They are not as big as many of the Mexican and South American ones and they are plain dark brown all over, no special marks. Quite docile if you don’t breathe on them which they interpret as a prelude to being bitten and may respond in kind.

I put my hand down and let it walk onto my palm. Carried it out to the hall where everyone was waiting. The football players running and hiding behind each other’s shoulders a safe distance when I held it up to show them it was harmless.

I was amused and enjoying it. Like most individuals with the capacity for being cool and fixing things, I just like doing it. Like wrapping up Monica’s hand the next semester with a clean shirt and walking her to the infirmary when everyone else in the room was screaming and running to find out who knew the number for 911. It makes me feel good.

It’s proof of how stupid ? optimistic ? naïve I was at 22 years of age that I was amused and not terrified; unable to sleep without chemical aid for weeks because of the knowledge I should have gleaned. The biggest, most physically powerful and often most aggressive, men for 300 miles in any direction, were reduced to terror, inaction, and even flight by a non-existent threat. Even when told, shown, proved there was no danger, they cringed and huddled.

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