Rendered Fat Content


Lancelot Speed: Thick Spider’s Web, Woodcut Illustration from The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (1890)
" … clear evidence that I'm successfully SettlingInto here."

I had just finished soaping myself from head to foot and stepping into the full spray to wash myself off when I spotted something on the shower floor. A spider! One of those fat jumping jobs, crouching between my feet. I thought I might have been transported into the middle of a thought experiment or one of those psychological tests intended to assess character, performed on grad students. "You're soaped up and standing in a shower stall when you notice a spider between your feet. How do you react?" I tried to protect it, but didn't turn off the water. Employing the curious logic common to those in the middle of showers, I did not for a second consider turning off the taps. I felt extremely vulnerable. The shortest distance between there and able to offer assistance seemed to run through at least showering off first and not past immediately turning off the taps before offering assistance, so I tried to stand between the shower head and the spider. The spider, for her part, had crouched down in the classic horror movie cowering position, legs protecting body from the threatening comet. I quickly washed off the soap then turned off the water.

I could not tell while drying myself off whether that spider had survived her ordeal, nor could I quite accept that I had, albeit inadvertently, caused the accident.
The spider lay there in a puddle apparently caused by some sort of surface tension, perhaps by her hairy body's attraction. She was not moving, but I tossed a tissue over her body and let that wick away the water. I saw some movement beneath the soggy paper and lifted out the sopping package and set it into a corner outside the stall, then went about my business. Later, I noticed that errant tissue and found no spider in it, concluding that I'd successfully avoided killing it. I might have just adopted a pet.

Sure enough, next morning, checking closely before turning on the shower, I found my spider in the corner of the stall. Jumping spiders are extremely hard to catch and by nature suspicious of any species relatively bigger than a house. If a house could exhibit stealth, this was my duty. I took up another trusty tissue and imagined myself invisible. (That part of my role was easy to fulfill since I was naked and all.) I dropped that tissue over the spider then lightly tightened it around her body before lifting in out and setting it outside the stall. She was back again the next morning and the day after as if waiting for my next move in a preordained game. I've heard that spiders can be territorial, but she'd staked out her parcel in big time monsoon country. I'm reasonably certain that if I carefully check, she will have moved back into that stall before I step back into it this morning. I now possess a duty I just sort of backed into. I am that spider's guardian.

I could just as easily imagine that the spider's guarding me or at least my interests. When mosquito season kicks in here, I expect it might be nice to have someone watching over my shower stall and shoulders, both favorite haunts of the wiley mosquito. The lowly spider loves mosquito and apparently knows where they hang, so she's on duty waiting for her supper to deliver itself into her lair. It's a small fare for me to pay for such a service done for me. I imagine myself naked, soaping, while unsuccessfully swatting at an attacking mosquito squadron, and can only feel grateful for my my arachnid friend, clear evidence that I'm successfully SettlingInto here.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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