As part of my new commitment to oral hygiene, I staggered into our bathroom Saturday morning with the firm intention of brushing my teeth.
There I was, rubbing sleep from my eyes, dreaming about the first cup of coffee of the day, slowly reaching out my right hand, when, suddenly and without warning...
That is the terrifying sound that erupted from my mouth when my brain realized lunging towards me was a spider that had been hiding behind the toothbrush container.
Instantly, the fear centre in my brain ordered my arm to retract inside my body, while the spider, which seemed eerily calm, ambled away and took refuge behind a medium-sized tub of Early-Harvest Raspberry Body Butter.
I know what you are thinking here. You are thinking I am a major weenie. Well, in my own defence, let me just point out you are completely correct, but this was not a regular spider.
No, this was the dreaded Hides In Your Bathroom Waiting For You To Think It's Safe To Brush Your Teeth Spider, which, as any professional wildlife expert will be happy to inform you, can easily grow to the size of a regulation softball and, if deprived of a diet of mosquitoes, will happily devour household pets and wayward postmen.
So there we were, the spider and I, locked in a standoff in our ensuite bathroom, me with fear in my eyes, him (assuming it was a him) with hatred in his eyes (assuming he had eyes). Neither of us wanted to make the first move, but, fortunately, I know just what to do when potentially deadly situations such as this arise.
I screamed for my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named. "HONEY!" I shrieked, "COULD YOU COME INTO THE BATHROOM FOR A SECOND?"
Instantly, nothing happened. This was because my wife was vacuuming in the den and couldn't hear me. So I screamed even louder and, moments later, she strode in and gave me one of those "looks" all veteran husbands are familiar with.
"What is it now?" she demanded in the tone you would use if you were having a conversation with a propane barbecue.
I pointed one trembling manly finger at the tub of Early-Harvest Raspberry Body Butter. "There's a spider hiding behind your body butter," I explained. "You need to do something."
"A spider?" my wife said, her expression a mix of confusion and pity.
"Yes," I explained, "it's a big one."
Again, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I, a middle-aged, former football-playing guy the size of a major kitchen appliance, should have had the moxie to deal with an itsy-bitsy spider situation on his own.
That is easy for you to say, sitting there in your spider-free homes, sipping your expensive lattes, content to judge others who are going nose-to-nose (assuming spiders have noses) with angry eight-legged intruders who suddenly burst out from behind toothbrush containers.
Let me set you straight: In our home, we have a long-standing division of marital responsibilities, an agreement under which I am responsible for dealing with larger pests, including mice and telemarketers, while my wife is contractually obligated to handle the elimination of things with more legs than necessary, which includes spiders.
In other words, this was clearly her responsibility. But I was more than willing to do my part to ensure everyone emerged from this crisis unharmed. "I'll get you a Tupperware container," is what I told my wife.
"Huh?" she grunted, frowning.
"A Tupperware container," I repeated. "You know, so you can shoo the spider into it, then take him outside and release him into the wild so he can be with his own kind."
In response, my wife scowled, armed herself with a handful of tissues, pushed aside the tub of Early-Harvest Raspberry Body Butter and, with a lightning-quick lunge, deftly scooped up the stunned spider.
"Now what?" I asked her.
"Now this," she sniffed, and plopped the tissues and the spider into the commode, flushing it with the flick of a finger.
It was a bit of a blur at that point, but I recall remarking: "I thought you'd set him free outside."
Arching back to the den, my wife flung up one hand, scornfully. "You do YOUR job," she snorted, "and I'll do mine!"
And I'm perfectly fine with that, although I did flush the toilet a second time, because you can never be too careful.