Life Update #7: The Rise of Hardcore Henry III

Avid readers of my blog (it’s getting slightly easier to say that word out loud) will know who Hardcore Henry was. (Or maybe they won’t, because it’s been a while since I’ve talked about him that one time.) I mentioned him in one of my previous Life Updates. (Which you can read for yourself right here!)

For those of you just stopping by, Hardcore Henry was the daddy long-legs that lived by my bookshelf. He got killed (semi-long story) and was soon replaced by a newcomer daddy long-legs that I dubbed Hardcore Henry II.

I didn’t post about it, but Hardcore Henry II is gone too.

I don’t know if he perished in the cold and forgotten wastes behind my bookshelves or if he crawled himself to a new locale with better property value. All I know is that the hardcore spot between the wall and one of my bookshelves has been empty for months.

That is, it was until a few days ago.

A brand-new daddy long-legs, Hardcore Henry III, has taken up residence there, and this spider has an attitude. He’s not mean per se, but he’s kind of…moody.

He has a tendency to spring out from his lair if someone so much as breathes on his web.

This is as close as I can safely get to Hardcore Henry III.

You can see Hardcore Henry III as the little dot above my gargantuan schnozz.

I’ve got to admit, I’m not too fond of this guy. The other Hardcore Henrys webbed their way into my heart by being unobtrusive spiders that may have assisted in decreasing the fly and mosquito population near my desk. But Hardcore Henry III is a tough as nails, take no shit, spit in your eye, and growl kind of guy.

And, as my earlier Life Update specified, I’m a tad on the arachnophobic side.

I don’t know what to do with Hardcore Henry III.

I’ve already named him, so I can’t just squash him.

So you see those books in the picture above, the ones with backwards titles since I took the photo selfie-style?

Yeah, it’s gonna be a while before I pick those up again.

What’s the natural life span of a daddy long-legs?

Life Update #4: Living with Hardcore Henry

I’m not overly fond of spiders.

In fact, they freak me the fuck out.

I wouldn’t say I shriek and run away like a stereotypical arachnophobe, but I do flinch and maybe panic a bit…which is not all that different, I suppose.

There is one type of spider I’m not all that scared of, and that is the daddy long-legs. They have thin, spindly legs and the smallest of bodies. Their webs are wispy and frail, occasionally looking like hair more than webbing.

They’ve been a part of my life for a long time, for as long as I can remember. They heavily populated the garage and were sometimes seen indoors. My dad once picked one up and showed it to me and my sister. He said they were helpful in keeping other, more dangerous spiders away. So even though my mom might shriek and demand the death of every daddy long-legs she can find, they always had a hall pass in my book. As long as they kept the ever-threatening presence of those “other, more dangerous spiders” away, I was totally cool with them.

About a year ago, I noticed there was a daddy long-legs taking up residence in a corner near where my bookshelves are. While it initially jump-scared me by popping out when I was reaching for a book, I decided to leave it alone. I dubbed it Hardcore Henry and just took extra care when selecting books from that shelf.

Henry and I began a steady relationship from that day forward. I said, “Good morning, Henry,” every time I passed by that spot, and he’d sit in his web, chilling. I even introduced him to my boyfriend, who should by now be accustomed to my penchant for naming things.

However, I made the mistake of introducing Henry to my mother.

I mentioned that I had a daddy long-legs I was keeping around, and she freaked out. I didn’t tell her Henry’s exact location, but she knew he was around my bookshelf.

One day, she found Henry when I wasn’t in the house. She yelled aloud as soon as she saw him, and my boyfriend, who happened to be nearby, told her, “That’s Henry. Amanda is keeping him.”

The next day, when I passed by the bookshelf, Henry wasn’t there.

I’ll admit, I was saddened at the thought that my bookshelf companion was gone to the big web in the sky, but I didn’t hold it against my mom. I, too, am afraid of spiders and will not hesitate to squish them if they even think of getting too close.

But Henry was different.

He was a cool spider.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking by that bookshelf again, when I noticed some webbing was there. I took a closer look, and what should I find but another daddy long-legs.

I am calling him Hardcore Henry II.

And this time, I’ll just keep his presence between him, me, and the rest of you guys reading this.

The Spider This Morning

It started like any other morning.

(Isn’t that always the way things start?)

My phone was booping out some generic alarm, so I opened my eyes slowly. I could feel the slight crustiness in the corners. (It’s fun to scratch that stuff away.) I reached for my phone in the darkness of my bedroom. I squinted from the bright light of its screen and jabbed the alarm off. The room was cold, so it was a real struggle to simply pull the thick comforter off of myself. I did it anyways and slouched to the bedroom door. My favorite pair of slippers were right there. They were light blue and as soft as the softest bath towel. They also made the most delightful slapping noise whenever I walked on tile.

(I’m fond of shoe noises.)

I went to take off my retainer and brush my teeth. Then I shuffled down the long hallway to the kitchen. Some lights were already on there, but the rest of the house was dark.

As I entered the living room and then turned the corner to the kitchen, I was greeted by my sister, who was busily making coffee for the two of us. I said a sleepy but good-natured hello in return, and then proceeded to wash some of last night’s dishes.

(My sister and her husband are notoriously bad at doing the dishes in a timely fashion, so whenever I stay with them, dish-washing falls to me. I don’t mind because they do most of the cooking in return. I’m not much of a cook.)

Alya has a teacher schedule, and as any fellow teacher will know, you have to wake up early if you’re going to prepare for your day at school properly. Alya always woke up at 5:30 a.m. so that she would have time to lesson plan and walk her dog, Ushi, before school. I had set my alarm to 6 so that I could keep her company. It was pretty hellacious on my sleep schedule since I never compensated by going to sleep early, but hanging out with Alya even a single second more made it all worth it.

After doing the dishes, I knelt down to greet Ushi.

Ushi is an absolute darling of a dog. She’s a large, St. Bernard-Great Pyrenees hybrid whose only objective in life is to get love.

I was thoroughly occupied in helping Ushi achieve that goal when all of a sudden, I heard Alya shout, “Oh my god! Is that real?!”

I looked up at Alya from where I was crouched on the kitchen floor with Ushi. Alya was standing close to the living room while still in the kitchen, and she was staring at the ceiling in disbelief.

I followed her gaze and felt my fists clutch at Ushi’s thick white fur in dismay.

On the ceiling, a spindly, hairy spider held perfectly still.

Alya and I glanced at each other. We both thought the same thing: Fuck. 

(Yes, Alya and I are that close that we know what each other is thinking.)

Alya started to panic. “Oh, what are we going to do? Is it alive? I can’t see it moving. Maybe it’s dead. Where’s the broom?” She said all this in a rush, then went off to find the broom.

I stayed sitting on the floor frozen for a moment, but then I scuttled away on my behind in a hurry, heart thumping unpleasantly. I grabbed Ushi by her neck fur and dragged her with me. She slid along the floor uncomplainingly, unaware of the terror that was unfolding before her.

(I am massively terrified of spiders.)

However, once Alya came back with the broom, Ushi finally realized something was up. She began looking all over the kitchen for whatever was going to get swatted. She even trotted up to the backyard sliding glass door to see if something outside was causing the broom to appear.

She failed to see the nightmare that was still perched on the ceiling.

Alya brought the broom up as if to sweep the spider towards me. “Amanda, get out of the way!”

“Whoa! Not here!” I was standing by the sliding glass door as well. I pointed to a more open space of the kitchen, in the complete opposite direction from me. “Do it there.”

Alya tilted the broom a bit so that its bristles would sweep the spider away from us.

“Are you ready?” A tinge of excitement colored my sister’s tone. I both hated and loved it. That tone meant that she was having fun. I was legitimately concerned. It did bring a certain amount of lightheartedness to the whole situation though.

Before I could properly steel myself, Alya swept the broom in an arcing motion. It hit the spider perfectly, and it plopped onto an empty space of tile floor. It didn’t move.

Reassured of its lifelessness, Alya and I walked up to its body.

And that’s when the fucking thing decided to move.

(Spiders are dicks sometimes.)

Alya and I shrieked bloody murder. The most I could do was scurry backwards and press up against the sliding glass door. Alya started whacking at the spider with the broom like an erratic game of Whack-a-Mole. It’s like the broom was a hoe, and she was furiously pounding the earth.

Unfortunately, the broom’s bristles did not carry enough pressure to properly smush the beastly spider. I think I saw its body bounce a bit, but it was still very much alive throughout all of Alya’s broom attacks.

Ushi just stared with her tail wagging as her owner brought the broom up and down on the floor.

Alya eventually stopped to check her work. The spider was not moving as much as before, but its legs were twitching. “I need a chancla,” Alya declared.

She had a pair of flip-flops by the sliding glass door. I reached for one slowly, making none of my movements too forceful.

(Everyone knows that spiders can only see you if you move.)

I tossed Alya the sandal, and she caught it with one hand. The other hand still held the broom at the ready.

Ushi’s attention was riveted by the sandal, as if she thought she was supposed to catch it. She completely ignored the eight-legged monster on the floor.

With one expert motion born from years of swatting flies and mosquitoes, Alya brought the chancla down. We both let out one final shriek as it made its impact on the spider and the kitchen floor with a sharp slap.

When Alya pulled back the chancla, the unmoving body of the spider was all that remained.

It had tried that trick on us once before, so we approached it more cautiously the second time around. Upon further inspection, it was clear that the spider was crushed, defeated.

Alya and I sighed with relief and started laughing at our own silliness. Using a napkin, she picked up the spider and tossed it in the trash.

(I am so freaked out by spiders, I will not touch them even when they’re dead.)

We continued on with our morning, a little exhilarated by the thrill of adventure from the spider-killing.

After all that excitement, Ushi lay down right where the spider had met its doom and took a nap.