Last week, my wife and I were painting her mother’s house. I lack both the skill and the wardrobe to be a good house painter, which is fine because I also lack the inclination.
I have never seen the point in having more than one pair of shoes, and I can’t bring myself to ruin a perfectly good shirt, no matter how holey it is. And as far as my skills, well, let’s just say my technique is lacking both grace and form.
So there I was, up on a ladder, trying to keep from dripping the paint on my only pair of shoes, when I noticed a tan spider ambling towards me. He moved with an unexpected grace, as if he was out for his morning walk. As he neared me, I realized that Smith, as I began to call him, only because it seemed to fit him, possessed particularly agreeable features for an arachnid.
His eyes were pleasingly tucked away somewhere out of sight, and his legs, though numerous and long, were almost entirely without hair. Now, I am in no way an authority on spiders. For all I knew he could have had a retractable set of fangs filled with enough toxin to drop an elephant. But Smith was a charming spider, and we felt at ease with each other. And that is why I have no reasonable explanation for my actions.
Perhaps I felt that Smith had it too good. If he was hungry, all he had to do was spin a web in some enticing corner, take a nap and wait for the food to pile up. Because there certainly isn’t, and never will be, a shortage of half-witted insects eager to throw themselves into the shiny silk. I began to resent Smith’s indifferent attitude. Ugliness of personality tends to depreciate any existing physical beauty, and such was the case with Smith. While it was true that his eyes were mostly hidden, when I looked closely, I could make out six or seven black, disdainful, little orbs. And his legs, though hairless, rather resembled alien feelers, and could easily induce vomiting if seen in the right light.
Whatever the reason, with an uncharacteristic glee, I slopped a big glob of antique-white paint in his path. This didn’t deter him. He lowered his head and picked up the pace, galloping towards the obstacle. This unexpected turn of events angered me, and before I really knew what I was doing, I brought the brush down upon him with great force, enshrouding him in paint and adhering him to the siding. If I hadn’t been on a ladder, I probably would have clapped and shouted, such was my exultation. It was a cowardly thing to do, I know, but I wanted just once to see him off balance.
My excitement quickly wore off, however, and I found myself looking mournfully at the spider I had once held in such high esteem, fighting desperately to break free of the plaster. After a moment of this, he settled and seemed content to die quietly.
Seeing him there, stoically waiting to expire, brought on such a powerful sense of regret, that I, withdrawing a paper towel from my pocket, set about rescuing him. I gently scooped him up and lightly dabbed at his little, white-covered body, until he was a bit of his old self again. I was about to mark it off as a success, but one of his legs popped off while I was trying to dry it, and I unintentionally catapulted him into the gutter.
There comes a point in any endeavor when you decide to leave well enough alone. I set him on the roof, wished him well, and directed him back the way he came. He was still mostly white, and there was a hitch in his step, but he managed well enough. He finally reached the end of the roof, and, throwing himself onto a tree branch, disappeared out of sight.