Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ben and the Tarantula

Driving up the winding hillside, we all peered out the window looking at the enormous homes dotting the rocky landscape. As my husband narrated our tour, we murmured comments about the grand architecture and lush landscaping. Turning left, we continued up the hill in a section of the subdivision labeled "Estates". These homes were not only gigantic with lush landscaping, they each had several acres to call their own and were deep set into their property with winding landscapes.

The view over the rolling hills and city was spectacular, allowing us to see far into the horizon. Looking over the city below us, we pressed our noses to the glass tightly as if it would let us see farther.

Suddenly, Ben slammed the car to a stop.

"What?" my mother cried, lurching forward. "What is it? Did you hit something?"

"What are you doing?" my irritable sister groused.

Ben was staring reverently out the windshield. "It's a tarantula!"

"A tarantula?" mother questioned.

"A tarantula?" my sister panicked.

"Where's he at?" I asked curiously.

"He's right there," Ben cooed, watching the tarantula happily. Suddenly he looked at me and grinned. "I wanna touch him."

Rolling my eyes, I said, "Oh you always want to touch everything!"

"You can't touch them!" my mother cried, backing away from the window. "They jump!"

"Don't they bite?" my sister asked.

"I'm going to go touch them," Ben grinned wickedly, rushing out of the car. Leaving the door open, the car running and the air conditioning blaring, he crept over to investigate the tarantula who was scurrying to the other side of the road.

"Isn't he cute?" Ben cooed. "He's so fuzzy!" He reached down with a finger to touch the spider, who began to run faster.

"Gross," my sister said, making a face out the window. "We should kill him."

"Don't kill him," my mother said. "They're good. They eat other bugs."

"And small birds," I said.

"He's just so cute!" Ben said, enraptured with the spider. "Isn't he cute?"

"It's going to rain," I said. "Dad always says when the tarantula's come out it's going to rain."

"It's going to jump and get him," my mom said ominously.

"Why does he like a dump spider?" my sister sighed, rolling her eyes and playing with her cell phone.

Ben, oblivious to our conversation, continued to coo and wave at the spider happily. "Hello! How are you?" he asked it. The spider didn't respond and continued to scramble over to the other side of the road.

"Let's take it's picture!" Ben exclaimed happily. He borrowed my sister's camera and began to snap pictures of the spider, instructing it to hold still and turn slightly to the right. The spider ignored him and continued his rapid crawl to the other side of the street, only stopping once or twice to stare up at him with his beady little eyes.

Ben watched him as he scurried to the curb and stopped. The spider gingerly tried to crawl up the curb and promptly slid down. He stared at the curb for awhile.

"Oh no!" Ben cried. "He's stuck!" The spider tried once more to crawl up the curb and decided he did not like that idea. Quickly, he began scurrying down along the curb to a driveway about five feet away.

"I need to help the spider," Ben decided. Open-mouthed, I watched through the open car door as he selected a large thick stick and leaned it against the curb. The spider crawled up to the stick and carefully tried to climb up it. He decided he did not like the stick either, and continued on his journey to the driveway.

"It's fine," Mom said, now watching in fascinated horror. "Leave it alone, it'll go up the driveway."

"It's stuck!" Ben cried, determined to save his new fuzzy friend. "I have to save him!"

"Miranda, what the hell did you do to him?" Danielle asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked at me.

"It's cute," I said, grinning madly as I tried not to giggle. Ben was gingerly trying to pick up the spider with two sticks held as far from his body as he could manage. The spider was trying to attack the sticks and was hissing angrily. He threw himself from the sticks and jumped towards Ben, hissing in attack mode.

"He's hissing!" Danielle cried.

"He jumped!" Mom gasped. "He's going to attack! Get away!"

"I don't think he liked that," Ben said mildly. Undeterred, he tried several more times to rescue the ungrateful spider, who only hissed and jumped more in response. Ben was so hurt by the spider's rejection he threw his sticks down.

"Fine," he haughtily told the spider as he climbed back in the car. "Be stuck on the curb. See if I care."

Trying not to laugh, we sat quietly as we drove down the hill. Behind us, the spider watched our departing car for a few seconds. Then he quickly turned and began to crawl back to the open driveway.