Thursday, December 16, 2004

Y’all hate spiders. I like ‘em. They’re cool badass creatures. Those multi-eyed monsters eat those filthy scavengering insects that eat our food, or us. Here, our enemies’ enemies are our friends. Don’t hate the eight.

Outside my front door is a giant palm tree which I’ve mentioned sometimes attracts squirrels, hummingbirds, and of course, bugs. So I was actually pleased to see a giant web set up within the curve of a large frond. Don’t know ‘bout you, but I find those elaborate creations fascinating. And in the center of this delicate-but-solid intricacy was a huge yellowish arachnid. Obviously, Snyder the Spider was living large in his prime real estate.

I let him set up camp outside my home, and he collected pests in his net that would otherwise waft inside from the Pacific sea breeze. And we were happy, peaceful neighbors.

Until the day I played with karma. Upset the balance of nature.

I found a little spider in my bathtub. Little, that is, by comparison to the moth-eatin’ behemoth outside. This indoor crawler was a black blemish on my otherwise clean porcelain. The shower wasn’t big enough for the two of us.

Out of respect for Peter Parker, I don’t squish spiders. I scooped it up with some tissue and was gonna set it free outside. And then I saw Snyder there, looking like he was floating in space, until you caught the glimmer of his silvery strands against the sunlight. Hey, I wonder what would happen if...

I flung the little black spider into the web. Would they show professional courtesy to each other? Arachnophilia?

Nope. Spider fight!

Snyder zoomed in and the little guy turned to face him. There was an entanglement of legs and feelers, but within seconds, the yellow combatant has his jaws imbedded in the other’s abdomen. The black spider became paralyzed, and without wasting a moment, Snyder began to twirl his prey around, wrapping it up in webbing.

Watching him prepare his cannibal carne burrito was captivating, and yeah, creepy. Should I really have been playing David Attenborough like in one of those old wildlife specials, toying with the animal kingdom like that?

A few days later, Snyder was gone, his palm tree web left unattended and in disrepair. And then I saw him. Up in the corner of the walkway leading to my apartment. He was spinning a new web, much closer to my front door. As if we were buddies now. I imagined my life as a sitcom. And Snyder was the wacky neighbor, like Kramer, mooching food offa me.

That was bad enough, but he had supported his web with one long strand going diagonally down toward the banister. No good. I’d get clotheslined every time I went in or out. I swiped at the strand and Snyder scrambled to the wall as his whole home imploded. “Sorry, dude,” I told him. Yeah, that’s right, I actually said that.

Later that day, I came home and discovered he had a new web. Same spot, and held in place by one strand again… from which Snyder was dangling. His big yellow body provided the weight, the cornerstone of his new construction. Amazing for sure, but… this was just getting too close for comfort. Remember that show? I was Ted Knight, and Snyder was JM J. Bullock. Yeah, that’s right, I actually referenced that.

I picked up one of those restaurant flyers -- there’s at least two new ones hanging from my doorknob every day -- and swung up high above Snyder. It caught his thread, and Snyder began to ascend up toward the Thai on Tenth menu. So I tossed the whole thing over the railing. What happened to Snyder, I don’t know.

What I do know is this was not like a sitcom. This was more like one of those “Blank from Hell” movies. You know -- there’s a new someone (the “blank”) who’s congenial but a little... off, perhaps. The blank befriends the protagonist, and even helps him… but then takes the new friendship too far, and when the main character tries to create some distance, the blank gets mad and seeks revenge. Single White Female: Roommate from Hell. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Nanny from Hell. Cable Guy: Jim Carrey from Hell. Or is that redundant? Anyway, you get the idea.

And this was the point when the hero thinks the Bug-Catcher from Hell is long gone... but he’s gravely mistaken.

I haven’t seen Snyder for over a month. But this morning, I noticed some dots in the remaining strands of his old web at the palm tree. I thought they were perhaps seeds from a nearby tree that blew in and got stuck there. Except the seeds were moving.

I looked closer and saw the dots were yellow. And as I leaned in even more, I realized... they were little baby spiders. Hundreds of ‘em.

Perhaps Snyder was really a she. And the first movie was nearly over, and they were setting up the sequel. Because I swear, those little yellow dudes were all glaring at me with their tiny multi-eyes. Yep, this was the teaser for Spawn of Snyder...


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