I suppose it’s not everyone’s idea of an idyllic arrangement but I have been doing that for about two years. Living with a spider, that is.
When I say “two years”, I know this is the second winter.
Gus is not a great beauty and is not of any great size, either. I mean, compared to a fully grown Huntsman or even a well-fed orb spider, Gus is rather on the puny side and would certainly feature in one of those bully-kicking-sand-in-the-face-of-the-skinny-guy advertisements that usually sold what I think were called ‘bullworkers’.
No, I’m not suggesting that spiders have such magazines or even that they can read, I was trying to point out that Gus is not very macho. Having said that, I don’t even know if Gus is a him or a her. Guess ‘Gus’ could stand for Gussie or Angus. Androgynous, that’s the word I was looking for, non-gender specific such as Jayden, Jamie or Ashley.
Anyhow, we have this strange relationship whereby Gus inhabits the top left corner of the bathroom window and we both tend to our own business. I try not to stare too openly in the Gus direction and it, well, I’m not quite sure just where or if Gus stares at anything in particular. Have you ever tried looking into the eyes of a spider?
We have no secrets from one another. Gus sees me in all my primoidal glory as I shower and I have seen Gus devour a luckless fly without saying ‘grace’ or even waiting for the table to be laid.
Gus has caused untold mirth to pass between Esmeralda and me when we hear a shriek from any female visitors who have ventured into the bathroom to ‘powder their nose(s)’ and caught sight of Gus looming above. There has also been the occasional hardy soul who has offered to get rid of the brute per means of a rolled-up newspaper. I think this is more to assert their maleness and always hasten to add that Gus is part of an experiment and tap the side of my nose.
“Ah,” they say knowingly,“ah, gotcha!” Really, I say in my head, what part of what I just said do you understand?
Just for the record Gus is a black house spider with probably a body length of about 2cms. Officially called Badumna insignis the black house spider is a common species of Australian spider, found throughout much of Australia and New Zealand. It has a life span of at least 2 years and its bite is venomous though not usually fatal.
Through this relationship with Gus, I believe we have both learnt a little of life, such as give-and-take. Gus gives us a window full of intricate, if untidy, cobwebs and I take some/most of the web away whenever it takes over too much of the glass. Gus retreats into this little funnel shape of a web and waits until my house-cleaning is completed and then emerges to spin an equivalent sized web to what I removed in less time than it takes to say ‘daddy longlegs’.
And any errant flies are despatched quick-smart while I refrain from spraying any toxic fumes into the air. I’m sure our friends talk about us and our spider-in-the-bathroom fixation. I have a reputation for being more than a little loopy and Esmeralda is possibly criticised for allowing me to ‘keep’ Gus.
Well, they can all relax now as this morning Gus was missing from the usual spot up in the left hand corner. A search, slightly frantic, eventually found an emaciated Gus lying on its back all eight legs reaching skyward. A brief thought of some form of CPR was quickly dismissed and I flushed the body down the loo.
Later, I vaccuumed the window and it is now as if Gus never existed. But I have my memories.