Thursday, 20 September 2007

My Auntie Janet meets Bobby

Janet is my aunt from England. She’s in her 60s and is a strong, intelligent, funny, attractive woman who just happens not to be able to handle creepy-crawlies of any shape or kind.

So she was a little nervous about coming to stay with me in South Africa. Because not only is my home – a rambling old farmhouse awash with nooks and crannies beloved of creepy-crawlies – a haven for all things that slink, slither and skitter, but our house policy is ‘live and let live’. Which is why Bobby (read post here), the venomous tarantula that lives with us, has been allowed to grow, unmolested, to the size of a dinner plate.

‘Don’t even mention spiders,’ I warned my two teenage children ahead of Janet’s arrival. ‘Or lizards or worms or cockroaches or flies. Not even as a joke,’ I added, when my daughter smirked wickedly. ‘She’s really nervous of them, so show some sensitivity.’

On the morning of Janet’s arrival I saw Bobby in the living room, high up where the wall meets the ceiling. He was sitting fairly peacefully there, his long hairy legs outstretched, and I had a stern word with him. ‘Keep out of sight,’ I said. ‘You’re pretty good at that, usually, so just keep it up.’

He waved a furry leg, which I took to be an acknowledgment, but clearly I’m not all that clued up on spider semaphore.

Because poor Janet, late on the first evening she was here, took herself off to the bathroom, settled herself down on the seat, and reached forward to take a magazine out of the rack (we are great believers, in this house, of being allowed to be enthroned for as long as it takes to read at least one article). And with the magazine came Bobby, who had apparently taken the opportunity to read up on Cosmo’s ‘7-Point Plan to Spin a Web Around Your Man’.

‘It’s just as well she was where she was when it happened,’ my father (Janet’s brother) commented later. ‘Saved on the laundry.’

But in the event Janet was remarkably self-contained. All she said, in a voice barely above a whisper, was, ‘Oh. My. God.’ And she flung the magazine across the bathroom.

Bobby, large as he is, doesn’t have the strength to shift an issue of Cosmopolitan off his arachnid self, and was trapped there for about an hour while Janet came back into the living room to regale us with the horror she’d just lived through.

When I went to the bathroom later to rescue him, he was looking a little flatter than normal, and was understandably a bit pissed-off, but was otherwise none the worse for wear. After I’d checked each of his eight legs for damage (there was none), I took him outside. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘but you can’t be in the house until Janet leaves. She’s the guest, and her feelings must come first. I’m sure you understand.’

As I tossed him into a hedge, he waved a furry leg at me. I’m pretty sure that if he had fingers, he’d have been giving me one.

Janet, brave woman that she is, professed herself emotionally unscarred by the incident. ‘But if you don’t mind, dear,’ she said, ‘I’m going to phone your father and ask if we can go and stay with him.’

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2 comments:

meggie said...

Well Aunt Janet handled that with remarkable aplomb!
Though I try to be tolerant of spiders, I think one that size would have me running screaming! Unless of the course I tripped & fell, over the knickers!

angel said...

oh the poor woman- i am impressed she didn't kill him though! i also live & let live and i ADORE spiders!!!