The Tarantula In The Box
My entire college career, I had a job in a biology lab that studied toxicology and teratology, basically the effect of chemicals on animal and human development. My illustrious professor, who was quite a character, had two pet tarantulas that he kept in a cage in the lab. One night, one of the tarantulas got loose and we returned to work the next day to discover that the housekeeper had squashed it flat on the floor. She outright refused to clean the lab until he got rid of the other tarantula. Since I had had plenty of weird pets, but never a tarantula, I told my boss I would love to take it home. I put it in a little square box and carried it with me that afternoon. Since the first six months of college I lived at home (God help me), Mom was giving me a ride home. Now keep in mind that throughout my childhood and adolescence, she had put up with hamsters, anoles, toads, praying mantises, mice, gerbils, tadpoles, fish and snakes, so she was a) a saint and b) naturally suspicious of my tightly closed box.
“What’s in the box?” she said, when I got into the car. “Nooooothiiiiing,” I responded. “I SAID, what’s in the box?” she said. “Noooothiiiiing”, I responded. “I’ll see it when we get home,” she said. I clutched the box on my lap. Nothing was coming between me and my new furry friend. “I know there’s something alive in there,” said Mom.
When we got home I scuttled off to my room. I picked out a tank approximately the right size for my new spider friend. I opened the box and HOLYCRAPITLEAPEDRIGHTOUTATMYFACE!!!! I let out a banshee shriek as I caught a glimpse of hideous fangs and evil little eyes and scruffy little hairs. It ran right by me and headed for the wall, which it started climbing. My mother came running in. “I KNEW it,” she said. “I KNEW it was something like that! I KNEW it!” At that moment I realized what I had forgotten: I HATE spiders. Oh yeah. Small detail. Saint that my mother could be, she helped me scoop the giant spider back into the box and seal off the lid. I was shaking. I could see those fangs, clear as day.
The next day, I brought the tarantula back to work with me. I wordlessly handed it to my boss. He wordlessly took it back from me and put it back into the tank. “So what,” he seemed to say. “We don’t need a housekeeper in THIS lab,” True to her word, the housekeeper refused to come back in the room. So he hired the wife of one of his researchers to do the cleaning. Apparently she didn’t have a problem with spiders.