On a bright Sunday morning, my fifteen year old son with his freshly minted learner’s permit sits behind the steering wheel of the car, leaving the passenger seat to me.
Right. We’re going to church. I can start praying early.
Except I don’t get the chance.
Johnny doesn’t drive ten feet down the street before something black and hairy skitters past my right arm.
Big. Hideous. Spider.
I yank my arm away, and miraculously, I don’t scream, even if the spider is big enough to swallow Nebraska. “Johnny, you need to stop the car right now.”
“What? Why?” But he stops because he’s actually a very good driver.
My brain has now used up its capacity for rational thought, so I point stupidly to the spider. “Uh…yu…spi…der…”
It’s lodged in the crook of the handle, and I can’t open the door without getting way too close to the hairy nightmare of a beast. Think Aragog (you Harry Potter fans will understand).
Johnny gives me and Aragog a lazy glance. “Yeah. So?”
If you want sympathy, have daughters.
The spider twitches.
I jerk away. Or try, but my seat belt thinks we’re in a wreck, so it locks me in place.
New plan: Swipe Aragog with my purse (goodbye faithful purse) and knock big ugly spider to floor where I can stomp its guts out.
Make that: knock big ugly spider to floor, sweep out to street, and let some car squash its guts out.
My purse gets a silver star for valor, but Aragog hits the floorboard running, so I throw caution to the wind and stomp away.
Dang that speedy spider.
My last stab wounds it, I think, but it scoots under my seat.
Johnny gives me a “Can we go now?” look.
Of course we can’t go. I need to fumigate the car.
But we’re running late for Sunday school, it’s somebody’s birthday, and I’m bringing the cake, which is sitting on the floorboard behind my seat.
Does Aragog like cake?
Johnny puts the car in gear. “I’m driving now.”
I wrench my head up and down. “The spider is more scared of me than I am of it, right?”
Johnny doesn’t answer because he couldn’t care less. He’s not the one with Aragog under his chair.
I repeat my mantra to myself, and by the time we make it out of our subdivision, my heart has almost quit palpitating.
Johnny glances my way. “Why did you have to get so freaked out?”
An actual shudder runs through my body. “You would’ve—” I see movement and look down.
Aragog is in my lap.
Arm waving. Shrieking. Convulsions. The whole nine yards.
Johnny simply drives on.
Mid-conniption, I somehow manage to brush Aragog off my lap, and I stomp for all I’m worth.
The hairy beast squirts under my seat again.
I squeal and clutch my legs to my chest.
Johnny gives me a withering look.
“It was on me!” I curl into tight, quivering ball. Why, why, why would that spider crawl up my thigh?
I scan the floor, the door, the dash, and my pants for Aragog, the mentally ill spider. The sweep goes nonstop until we arrive at church and I shoot out of the car. I make Johnny dig the cake box out.
No sign of Aragog, which brings me zero comfort. Obviously the spider doesn’t care for cake, and is simply waiting for another go at me.
Uh oh. New problem. I have to drive straight from church to work, which is why our family was taking separate cars to begin with.
I wave farewell to my pretty red Camry, for I can never drive it again. Then I track down my husband, Alan, at Sunday school. “Um, I need your van keys, okay?”
“There’s a giant spider in the car, and it’s not afraid of people.”
Alan blinks at me.
“Really. It crawled up my leg.”
I can see him trying to figure out what that has to do with the van keys.
“We need to trade cars.” There’s a desperate ring in my voice.
Alan’s eyes soften with understanding. I’m totally throwing him under the spider-bus, so to speak, but he doesn’t complain. He just gives me a patient “because I love you” look and hands over his keys.
That man is my hero.