A few weeks ago I wrote about the best gift that I have ever received, and it included a story about my friend, Tom, and his fear of spiders. In the flurry of tweets and Facebook postings that followed the post, I indicated that I actually had three stories involving Tom and spiders, and I would eventually share them all.
Here is story #2:
Tom and his wife, Liz, were kind enough to drive Elysha and me to Bradley Airport on the Monday following our wedding. We were on our way to Bermuda for our honeymoon, and we didn’t want to leave our car in long term parking. We were speeding up Interstate 91 in the wee hours of the morning, my wife and I in the backseat and Tom and his wife in front. Tom was driving, and despite the darkness of the hour, I happened to notice something move on the collar of Tom’s shirt. Looking closely, I realized that it was a spider.
I wasn’t surprised that the little guy was crawling around Tom’s car. Tom burns several forests worth of wood during the winter, and at the time, his car was doubling as a deforestation vehicle. It wasn’t uncommon to see wood piled in the back of the car, and even that day, there was evidence of a recent load of timber on the floor of the car.
Tom was driving about 70 miles per hour at that moment, and the spider was moving towards his neck. I knew about his irrational fear of the little creatures, and I knew that he might panic if he were to discover how close it was to crawling down his shirt.
I had three choices:
1. Tell the man who is utterly terrified of spiders that there is a small but significant arachnid moving up his back while he is operating a moving vehicle in traffic.
2. Attempt to extract the spider from his back myself without surprising him, frightening him or alerting him to the spider’s presence.
3. Say nothing and hope he never notices the thing.
It doesn’t seem as big a deal years later as I sit here and recount the story, but at the moment, I was scared out of my mind.
After a few precious seconds of indecision, I opted to flick the spider off his back, deciding that if I failed in my attempt, I would tell him that I was brushing away a sliver of wood that had affixed itself to his shirt.
Holding my breath, I reached forward and flicked, and the little creature went flying off the collar of the shirt and into the darkness between the seats.
I felt like I had saved all our lives in one quick, dexterous motion.
On a side note, Tom saved my life later that morning when he brought my wedding ring, which I had left at home, back to the airport and somehow got through a side door at gate security in order to hand it off it to me. Knowing how unhappy Elysha was with the prospect of heading off on her honeymoon with an idiot who had forgotten his wedding ring, Tom and Liz drove the 45 minutes back to our home, found the ring, and returned to the airport before our plane boarded.
It wasn’t quite as death-defying as the flick of a spider, but it was appreciated nonetheless.