Inevitably it will happen - something with six legs or more will land on your person and cause you to do strange things. This time it was Steve Ashmore’s turn.

Everyone knows there’s a difference between insects and spiders. Over the years, I’ve tried to educate others on this matter. For starters, insects (I prefer calling them bugs) have six legs and three body parts; the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Spiders have eight legs and have only two body parts, the head and the abdomen. Before you ask, neither have six pack abs.


Bugs have antennae and some have wings. Spiders on the other hand have no antennae, instead they have eight eyes. To the delight of thousands, there are no spiders with wings. While multiple eyes are kind of creepy, it still beats flying spiders if you know what I mean.


Bugs spread disease and get into your food supply. Spiders know enough to leave other species food alone. For the record I’ve never found a spider in my Lucky Charms.


Bugs tend to hide in dark places and run across your bare feet when you turn on the light. This almost always panics the person entering the room. As a bonus, those at the other end of the home often hear the blood-curdling screams and assume that a home invasion is in progress. Spiders are mostly content to hang out in the corner of your garage or in your home’s skylight just out of reach of your longest vacuum attachment.


There are few good things to be said about bugs. Spiders, on the other hand, have a menu that consists of … bugs! They trap the annoying creatures and even dispose of their tiny, alien inspired, disease-ridden carcasses by eating them. I have assisted spiders in leading new and meaningful lives by ushering them outdoors on a sheet of newspaper instead of stomping them like common bugs. Spiders are our FRIENDS! Or so I thought until this morning.


You see, our friends DO NOT hide in our bath towels awaiting the conclusion of our morning shower. Our friends DO NOT repel down a slender thread of webbing as we dry what’s left of our thinning hair. Our friends DO NOT locate the only spot on the human body that can’t be reached (just below the shoulder blades) and conduct their own little arachnid square dance routine.


And yet that’s exactly what happened this morning. This little eight-legged anarchist found his way from the aforementioned skylight to my towel. I don’t know his intent or final destination; I do know that he might have fared better if he had simply crawled downward. I might have mistaken his trek for a droplet of water that I had missed, but when he started moving sideways, I became leery. When he moved upwards towards my neck, I knew that water droplets have never defied gravity.


I turned slowly to catch a glimpse in the mirror. There he was staring back at me with those eight eyes. I’m relatively certain he gave me a big spider grin. Did I fail to mention that some of these friends are venomous?


I didn’t want to raise a hue and cry; you see my wife hates spiders. If I disturbed her, she might run to a neighbor’s house for help. That would raise the possibility of selling our home and relocating. Nobody wants to bear the shame of having neighbors see you battling a spider in your birthday suit. Instead I acted like a religious fanatic and began to flagellate my back with the wet towel.


Spiders can’t fly, but some can jump. Of course, this little villain was one of the jumping varieties. As I flung the towel over my left shoulder, he would jump to the right and vice versa. Redoubling my efforts in both strength and frequency caused two disturbing results. Striking with more gusto left welts on my back and the quicker motions made my antagonist seek a safer location farther down my spine.


Admittedly at this point I probably could have simply brushed him onto the floor and crushed him underfoot, but I was determined. I intended to use his original hiding place (my towel) as the instrument of his demise. I played the towel out to its full length by grabbing a corner and continued my efforts to swat him.


Unfortunately, while allowing access to the lower part of my back the extra length also permitted contact with areas of the bathroom heretofore out of range. These included a towel rack, a light fixture with multiple bulbs, and a small but efficiently well stocked medicine cabinet containing a variety of aftershaves, colognes, and other personal hygiene products.


These large and fragile fixtures hit the floor nearly simultaneously. The spray of glass shards and resulting injuries caused me to bellow oaths that would embarrass most sailors. I can’t say if either commotion caused the scoundrel to depart my lower spine, he may have simply grown indifferent to our waltz. But I found him on the floor, unable to extricate himself from the puddle of various concoctions from the dislodged medicine cabinet.


The ER physician, after administering 137 stitches, promised that I would make a full recovery with limited scarring. I have a friend who is a general contractor, so the nearly complete remodeling of the bath is only going to cost around $2,500. Unfortunately, I’m told that nothing can be done about the odd fragrance created by the mixture of aftershaves, mouthwash, and deodorants.


Oh, the spider? Well I have escorted dozens of them outside on a sheet of paper and I continued the tradition with this little guy. I scooped him from his liquid dungeon and carried him outside. I placed him gently in the middle of our driveway… and used a borrowed butane torch to incinerate the little thug.


It turns out that spiders are bugs after all!


See all of Steve Ashmore’s blogs here.