On Survival (Darwinian) and Life (Fragile)

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Every weekday morning I tumble out of bed (not literally; that would hurt) and stutter into the warm glow of the bathroom for a shower.

Every morning for the past several weeks, a spider sits in the bathtub/shower and stares me down.

It’s a Darwinian epic.

A word about the arachnids in our house: the late-summer around here has been unusually “buggy.” I feel like someone built an international insect speedway through my bathroom. I’ve seen mostly fire ants (boo! hiss! Die!) and spiders (creepy, but whatever).

Since the spiders eat the fire ants, I can’t complain too much…. my loathing for fire ants now surpasses all other bug forms save roaches. Truly. If every fire ant were destroyed and sent to the hell from whence he came, I would dance happily. In the yard. Because I can’t dance in the yard as things stand right now — I’d end up dancing on a fire ant mound and then those infernal bugs from the dark place of evil would bite me and give me welts that ooze. Apparently, my body (impervious to poison ivy and most allergies) finds fire ant venom to be its Waterloo.

So the spiders live … as long as I can’t see them. If I catch a spider chillin’ inside, it’s him or me. Well, it’s him or Coart. I hate smashing the things so I make Coart do the deed.

But in the mornings, as I stumble and tumble from the warm cocoon of sleep into the harsh light of another workday, I have been confronted with the interesting problem of a spider in the shower/tub.

I *could* smoosh it in a wad of toilet paper and continue my sanitation routine, but that seems so… unfair.

And gross. I don’t like seeing spider legs sticking out of wadded up toilet paper.

And cruel somehow. The spider didn’t do anything wrong; he’s just living in my shower.

I decided to make the spiders a deal:  They get a chance.  I go about my normal shower routine, splashing away and trying to coax some organization out of a sleep-muddled head. (“What exactly am I supposed to be teaching today? … oh yeah: Greek mythology / Robin Hood / Egyptian mythology / Beowulf / Latin preposition uses / journalism and writing skills / enunciation …. Right.”)

Each morning the spider gets a chance to live or die. If it’s smart enough to clamber up into some safe barricade behind a bottle of bath salts, he can live.

Most of the time, in a continuing reminder of natural selection, the spider runs in the absolute wrong direction and succumbs to the artificial rain.  Then I have to toe-nudge the spider legs into the drain with a toe.

The spiders died, day after day. Running up the spout doesn’t work. Running down the side really doesn’t work. Running toward my washcloth is an instant red card.

I began to see the bathtub as a spider Colosseum.  Except I was the only audience, and other than a momentary flash of regret that a creature with more limbs and lenses than I could be so unlucky, I wasn’t really watching.

But yesterday — one lived.

She perched herself on a sturdy bit of web and glared a spider-glare at impending doom. She careened around the corner and back up the wall, diving away from splashes and shampoo suds. I always turn my back to the shower-head, so I missed most of the show. But as the last water and suds slid down the drain, the spider bounced.

It was gone this morning. Perhaps somewhere outside in a spider colony she’s teaching other spiders how to survive the maw.  Or maybe she crawled down the drain in a flash of sudden stupidity. *shrugs*

So now it’s Bathtub 20, Spiders 1.

I’ll keep you posted….

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