Spiders Are Your Friends


This spider has been hanging in the house ever since I was small enough to be afraid of it and now I am old enough to want it.

It’s kind of a talisman.

At our old house, it used to hang in our hallway at the top of the front stairs leading to the bedrooms. We didn’t often use that staircase because we oddly had another staircase right next to it that led to the same upstairs hallway. So it had a rather ominous perch, the non-used stairway.

Friends who caught a glimpse of it as they walked by would say things like, “What’s that weird spider thing?” or “That’s creepy.” and my favorite, “Why do you guys have a spider on the wall?”

To these questions, I could offer only a shrug. ‘I dunno. It’s from Poland’.

My mom liked to point out that the pająk (pronounced Pie-yonk) was hand-made and that it was ciekawe– interesting. Something I could see when I allowed myself to get close to it and poke at its wicker belly.

Besides, my Dad has always told me, “Spiders are your friends. They eat the little bugs that you don’t want to eat.” This he always said in English.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I seem to have a lot of friends around the house these days. One marched back and forth on the rim of the tub last night as I warned it away from the water. Earlier in the week, one was bungee jumping on his silk cord next to the kitchen table when I was at my laptop writing. The same night, I watched one go into my closet.

I felt like saying, “Guys! Guys! You’re getting out of hand.” I’ve been known to take them outside in a glass and release them. But it’s winter.

I pretty much have only one rule when it comes to spiders- Start biting me and you all die. So far, this is a friendly group.

Still, when is it too many?

I took exception to this rule, when I was living in Eritrea, Africa. One night I had come home by flashlight to discover a web that ran from my water filter to the floor. I got up close and discovered a black widow. Seriously, pea-size body, red hour glass marking! And I know you will think I am making this up, but it was October 31 to boot. There were expletives. I quickly lit some candles to give the room some light, took off my flip-flop, aimed, and said to myself, DON’T MISS!

I sent the squiggly remains to my friend who was being a terrible correspondent.

There was also the mysterious spider sticker that was on the wall during my in-country training. Huh, that’s funny I said to myself, I wonder what that sticker is doing up on the wall. Day after day I’d come home and notice it. Always the same spot. Then many weeks into my stay, I shook out my blanket and the wave of air hit said sticker and much to my surprise the paper thin spider came to life like a children’s pop-up book and scurried under my poster. It was so flat when it was still, that I named it Plate. It was a harmless spider so we stayed roommates.

Anyway, this spider decoration at my parents’ house, I really like it now. Weird little décor item that it is– there is just something about it that reminds me that a fear can be created and dispelled.

One comment on “Spiders Are Your Friends

  1. Tom Laferriere says:

    I think I remember that in the hallway now that you mention it.

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