Monday, August 15, 2011

The Salesman, Spiders, and the Heebie-Jeebies

I hate it when strangers come to the front door.  I don't personally despise the people that do it.  I know they've got products to sell or beliefs to share and I support that.  I just don't enjoy telling people no thanks, not interested, or not today.

Once upon a time I was the person that would show up at people's front doors.  But I wasn't selling anything or bringing Good News.  I wasn't even bringing lower case good news.  I worked as a process server throughout my college years.  If you don't know, process servers are the people that show up with eviction notices, divorce papers, or subpoenas to appear in court.  Like I said, not good news.  So I've got some level of sympathy for these guys.

But this last week I saw a uniformed guy going door-to-door while we were eating dinner so I did what every sympathetic person would do.  I closed the blinds and pulled the curtains closed so we could pretend like we weren't home.  I told my wife and child not to make a peep and then I spied on him.  I saw him go up the steps at the next-door neighbor's house and ring the door bell.  He glanced toward my house while he waited and I darted back from my hiding spot between the curtains.  Twenty minutes went by and there had been no knock on the door so I assumed my non-verbal message was received clearly.  I opened the curtains and the blinds and went about my normal post-dinner routine.

And then it came.  Knock, knock.  Who's there?  Interrupting cow.  Interrupting cow [Moooooo].  (That's my daughter's favorite joke right now except when she tells it, she politely waits for you to finish asking "Interrupting cow, who?" before she says "moooooo" and breaks into hysterics.)

This guy had caught me with my blinds open so I had to at least give him the courtesy of listening to his pitch.  He was selling a discounted neighborhood rate for organic poison that they would guarantee would kill all our ants and spiders from the foundation of the house all the way to the curb.  If all the neighbors did it, we could rid the entire block of pests!  But wait, there was more!  As part of their expert service they also look for spider egg sacks so they not only kill the existing spiders but future generations as well.  It sounded like a great deal if you hate living things.

Spider webs are all over this geranium.
I don't want to get too preachy because I know people have different views on this (including one friend of mine who may or may not read this blog).  But since this is my blog I'll tell you where I stand.  I don't like spiders.  They creep me out.  I'm pretty sure there is dead tissue in my arm from a black widow's bite.  But the worst thing about spiders are their webs.  They are everywhere this time of year and they not only collect dead bugs but every bit of yard debris small enough to get kicked up in the wind.  It's a giant, ugly, ghastly mess. 

Blades of cut grass caught up in spider webs along my fence.
Every time I want to relax in my Adirondack chair I have to bring my "spider stick" so I can knock down the webs that I know will be all over the chair and threaded through the slats of it.  It's a pain in the butt but it beats the feeling that you are sitting on top of a spider's nest.  And really, is there a worse feeling in the world than running your face through a spider web?  No, there isn't.  Plus, once you run your face through a spider web, you are bound to get the heebie-jeebies all day long and every time you feel something you have to assume it's the hairy legs of the spider who built that web and it is about to crawl into your ear and exact gruesome revenge on you for having destroyed its hard work.  (In my mind, "gruesome revenge" could mean any of the following: biting your ear drum, laying eggs in your ear canal, or simply taking up camp in your ear and refusing to leave.)

In spite of my loveless relationship with spiders, I have so far avoided the temptation to spray my yard to destroy them because I have read enough about beneficial bugs (spiders aren't insects, apparently) to be concerned about preserving the predator-prey balance in my yard.  I know that if I destroyed generations of spiders in my yard I would only be trading one pest for several others and right now I'm not dealing with aphids or mites or scale and I don't want to.  I just have to put up with the inconvenience of spider webs and, from time to time, I have to smash one in a Kleenex and flush it down the toilet if it decides to take up residence inside.

Like the weeds in my lawn, the spider webs that adorn my fences, eaves and corners are visual representations of my reluctant acceptance of the idea that in order to maintain my garden in a way that I feel good about, I have to accept that there will sometimes be aspects of it that I don't necessarily like.

So, I've been researching non-toxic deterrents for spiders for those areas where I would prefer them to stay away.  The one suggestion that seems to come up most often is to use lavender.  Um, that picture right above this with the spider web attached to the flower . . . that's lavender.  Any other recommendations?


  1. Dear Chad, what an interesting post, funny in parts and appalling in others. I'm so pleased you don't hurt spiders. My recommendation is maybe hypnosis???????? to help you learn to love them. You know in theory they are our friends - we need each other. cheers, catmint

  2. Chad, For whatever reason, I never learned to be afraid of spiders; and I sometimes forget that others are. The lesson was brought home to me the other evening when I had friends over for dinner. I got behind on my preparations for company and ended up doing a mini-version of the housecleaning I had planned. I didn't think anyone would really notice. But then in the middle of dinner, a spider started to make its way down a spun silk filament from the light fixture over the dining room table. Oops; now it was obvious I hadn't dusted! Fortunately, it was just a still-white baby spider, so although one of my dinner guests looked a bit cautious no one ran screaming from the dinner table. -Jean

  3. Being a child of the city (and I use the word child very very loosely) it wasn't until recently that I received the stunning information from my my husband that those cob webs that continually surprise me about the house? Are spider webs. This followed my realization that a veal...oh never mind.

  4. Catmint - I respect the spiders, but I don't know if I want to "love" them ever. :)

    Jean - that spider choosing to come down right over the dining room table instead of somewhere out of sight??? That had to be on purpose. I'm telling you, these spiders know what they are doing.

    Stephanie - Ignorance is bliss, isn't it?

  5. I don't know about the lavender. If it doesn't creep you out too much you can see a spider in my garden living in the lavender.She's a big black and yellow one so be forewarned.

  6. No spider ridding remedies here, but your post was down right hilarious. You really should write for a living. I know exactly what you mean above going through a spider web. All day, the slightest brush of absolutely anything sends me into a fit of frantically brushing away the 'web'. And it can be nothing too, it is like reliving the creepy feeling.

  7. Its a love hate thing with them for me. Need them in the garden and they look cool except when they are in the house. Last weekend I was bit twice on the leg by a spider while I slept...icky in all ways...well my bites swelled and one was infected before 24 it is becoming a hate thing inside for now for careful, very very, very careful!!! I'm hunting spiders....

  8. I HATE when people come to my door. It's gotten to the point where if I'm not expecting a package, I don't bother. I don't care if I have music blaring and they see me dancing around in my kitchen through the glass. More than the religious calls, I hate when the guys that sell meat come around. They drive around with a freezer in the back of their pickups, and try to sell me steaks. I'm not going to buy steaks out of the back of a pickup truck!

    Anyway, I also hate spiders. With a passion. If it's a big spider, I get my husband to relocate it with a broom. If it's a small spider, it gets killed. I too have a spider stick! lol

  9. I happen to love spiders. They help me in my garden and even in my house. I can't say that I love them enough to get up close and personal, but I appreciate their presence. Having said that, I know there are places that some may not find them welcome...or there are those who can't tolerate them at all. I can understand as I have a list of those intolerable insects as well.

    I have not tried it, but I have heard that lemon oil is a good and natural deterrent. I laughed at your post...funny...good luck!

  10. I have fallen behind in my comment responding duties. Sorry about that! I do appreciate everyone's comments.

    @Becky - your spider was freaky but it was a cool picture.

    @Greenapples - thank you for the compliment. I was hoping that people would see the humor in it. Also, thank you for the plug!

    @Donna - You were bitten twice? Do you have any idea what kind of spider bit you? Once they come inside the house, they stop serving a purpose in my opinion. Open warfare must be declared!

    @Kyna - I have this fear that if I refuse to come to the door even though they've seen me that they'll just stand there and keep knocking. I used to do that when I was serving papers so maybe I'm expecting some karma. Since you brought it up, I've had guys try to sell me meat out of the back of the their car trunks. Sorry, but I don't think an ice chest in the back of a sedan is going to cut it for me either.

    @Sage Butterfly - I'm trying to reach your level of affection for spiders but I'm not trying hard enough, I guess. After lavender, lemon oil was the most common tip I found online too. I think I'll give it a shot. The worst thing that could happen would be that my yard starts to smell like a lemonade stand.

  11. I don't mind spiders unless they are black widows or brown recluses. All the rest live in my garden peacefully (which means, I'm too scared of them to bother them). My husband has declared war on the black widows and brown recluses, so I don't have to bother them, either!

  12. I have a talk with my spiders...I tell them if they stay outside, they can live wherever they want and we will all get along. BUT if they come inside, all bets are off. I'm just sayin'...

    Very funny post!!

  13. Holley - I don't think we have brown recluse spiders here but from what I understand they are more dangerous than black widows. Is that true? I've got my fair share of black widows though. They'd actually be kinda pretty if they weren't so ugly!

    Toni - I like your style!

  14. Came to your blog by way of Green Apples. Such a funny post and so well written. I personally find spiders fascinating. The only ones I don't care for in my garden are the black widows and brown recluse. It would be nice if spiders just built their webs in more strategic locations (for us)!

  15. Spiders on my property like to build webs around the hose bibs. Of course going to the fraidy hole (cellar) conjures up many nightmares and feelings of dread. And walking through a jumping spiders web with him staring you in the face. Maaannn that's to much to take, that's heart attack material even for a vato. Enjoyed the post, mucho. G.