This post was written two weeks ago, but it was so traumatic that I just got up the courage to post it…
Today I had a run-in with another kind of island critter.
I’ve written about living with “island roommates” before, and after today’s encounter, I appreciate my lizard companions even more. Just this evening, I counted three lizards (what appeared to be two “young-un’s” and one adult) in our bedroom, and I named them Lisa, Louie, and Lamar. And though finding lizard poop next to your bed or on your bathroom sink is annoying, I’ll take that any day over what I had to deal with this afternoon….
One of the apartments in our six-unit building is vacant, and our landlord agreed to let our friends stay there for a week, in turn for me doing the “move-out” clean from the previous tenants. So while I was cleaning the vacant apartment, I did what any good, anal retentive cleaner would do. I moved the furniture to clean behind it. No big deal – just the usual dust bunnies, a pair of forgotten slippers behind the bed, that sort of thing. Until I moved the couch. When I pulled back the thick, fluffy sofa, there on the wall, looking like he owned the place, was a type of critter that I’d read about but (thankfully) had not yet seen. The Island Tarantula!!!
Everything that I’ve read online (yes, that’s my reference guide) says they’re not aggressive and not poisonous. But I. Don’t. Care. This thing was HUGE. He was almost as big as my hand – not the kind of spider I would even dream of trying to squash with my measly little flip-flop. And there he was, just a few feet away from me, looking quite annoyed that I’d invaded his home. So I did what any sane person would do. I ran into the next room, where I was out of jumping or scampering range but could still keep an eye on him, and called my spouse to rescue me.
Now, Bill won’t admit it, but he’s just as big of an arachnophobe as I am. But I begged him to come down to the vacant apartment and help me deal with a “spider issue.” (If I’d told him that said spider was a tarantula, he would have never ventured below our floor again.) Not realizing the severity of the situation and the panic attack I was about to have, he took his own sweet time, but he eventually came to my rescue.
His first idea was to suck the salad-plate size critter up with a vacuum cleaner, but he decided that a) he didn’t want to kill it (who knew Bill was a Buddhist?), b) it was bigger than the vacuum hose nozzle and probably won’t work anyway, and c) although he didn’t say it, I could tell by the look on his face that he knew if that spider was in the vacuum cleaner, HE would be the one having to empty the dust container later that evening.
So he used a broom and a mop bucket to corral it and take it outside. And he didn’t kill the damn thing!!! OK, I’m sorry. I know I should respect life and all living things have their place, and blah blah blah. But this thing was HUGE and UGLY and SCARY and I’ll probably never step foot in that apartment again!!! Because, what if he’s pissed that we kicked him out of his home. A homeless, dislocated, vindictive island tarantula is NOT something I want to encounter.
So I finished cleaning with my heart pounding and my limbs shaking. (I lost at least five pounds through sweat after that.) And I’m saying a little prayer for our friends Kimberly and Alain and their family that our latest “friend” won’t try to get back into his former domicile. But if he does, I can take some comfort in knowing that they’re the type of people who would appreciate him. Heck, they would probably capture him, let him die or kill him in some semi-humane way, and use him for a science project or an insect collection. So at least some good could come out of this for someone.
And as long as I don’t have to witness or participate, I’m ok with that.
Update: Kimberly, Alain and the kids stayed in that apartment for a full week, and as far as I know, they didn’t have any encounters with “roommates,” either four-legged or eight-legged. Although I’m still on the lookout for an irritated spider who’s looking for revenge.