I would like to interrupt my dis-chronological (it could totally be a word) storytelling to bring to you: The Huntsman in My Bathroom – a Mollee the Adventurer Special.
This weekend, I went to the JET Ashikita beach party. For those who don’t know what that is, Ashikita is a city in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan. It has a beach. A party is a social gathering that is often accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol. Check and check.
Before I left, I decided that I wanted to try out my super savvy, Japanese bathtub. I had woken up three hours ahead of schedule and couldn’t fall back asleep. A hot bath seemed like a great time killer (but little did I know of the killer* that laid in wait!).
I went through my morning routine: breakfast, reddit, and a hint of stretching. I walked into the kitchen and turned on the water heater. I found a change of clothes and grabbed a towel. I excitedly frolicked into my bathroom. I looked into my bathtub and screamed (sorry neighbors!). Inside, sat a huntsman spider that was a little bit larger than my hand. He was no Sparky but terrifying nonetheless. I dropped my towel and ran out of the bathroom. I slammed the door behind me. I took comfort in the fact that my shower door just so happens to be the only door in my house that seals completely (Mollee:1 Nature:0). I decided I didn’t really need a bath and got dressed again.
A few hours later, my friends arrived and we left for the beach party – which I promise to describe at an undetermined later date. We returned Sunday afternoon. I postponed showering as long as possible. I cleaned my house. Twice. I rearranged my tables. I decided I did not like their new positions. I re-rearranged the tables. I decided I liked them best in their original positions. I moved them again. I went on facebook. I did laundry. I ate a snack. I brushed my teeth. I flossed. I ran out of ideas and had a staring contest with the shower door.
Eventually, I had to shower. You can only go so long without bathing in such a humid place. I was already pushing it. I opened the door and jumped back; nothing. I tiptoed into the shower room – running first just in case he was waiting over the door. Nothing. I checked the walls. Nothing. I looked into the tub. He was there and dead. 100% dead. This was somewhat of a relief, although rigor mortis accomplishes nothing in the way of making a giant spider seem less scary. I still felt the need to double check.
I tapped the side of the tub with my foot. Nothing. I kicked the side of the tub. I banged on the inside of the tub with my shower cleaning brush. I sprayed him with the shower hose. Nothing. He was definitely, 100% dead.
I immediately found myself asking just that. There are only a few things that can kill a huntsman spider that I was aware of: birds, bats, fan-weilding women (see Mollee Vs. Sparky), old age, starvation, poison, bigger spiders, and mukade. It’s not a pleasant list. I cringed. There had been no birds or bats in my house and I could confirm that the floor-fan warrior had been absent. She and I are very close. The spider didn’t appear to be full grown (he was smaller than Sparky) so I couldn’t quite settle on old age. That meant that a bigger spider, a mukade, poison, or starvation was involved. Since I couldn’t prove the latter, I set out to disprove the former. I searched the bathroom for clues. There were no mukade or spiders and not a sign of black mold. I don’t actually know if black mold is toxic for spiders too, but I don’t think that looking hurt. I made extra sure that the gas stove was off. It was.
When these couldn’t be found, I briefly moved my search outside of the house. I looked for larger bugs on the walls and for any evidence of pesticide. I saw none. I decided I would never really know. This brought me to step 3: Spider carcass removal.
As an arachnophobic, spider carcass removal is a daunting task. A simple pick up and toss out the window is hardly a viable option, because that would involve ignoring the possibility that a zombie spider could be real. By the same token, vacuuming the body up could also be ruled out because at best I would have to come in contact with it again when I eventually emptied the vacuum and at worse the mutant zombie spider could come alive and escape into my house via the long hose. I could sacrifice a pair of kitchen tongs and throw it directly out the window or into the trash, but my kitchen tongs aren’t particularly long. This lead me to a somewhat more creative route: fire. I have problems, believe me I know.
I stood in my bathroom and contemplated burning the dead spider, who I had named Lector, because he reminded me of the mask that Hannibal Lector is forced to wear in the Silence of the Lambs movie to keep him from biting people.
Initially, fire didn’t seem like a bad choice. I could light a piece of notebook paper on fire and throw it onto Lector’s body in the bathtub. He was already dead so this wouldn’t be cruel – unusual is still debatable. The bathtub was metal rather than ceramic so I did not worry that the fire would cause any lasting damage. My house also doesn’t have a fire alarm, which was alarming (see what I did there) to discover but convenient at the time.
Then, I started to wonder how bad it would smell and how much smoke it would produce. Although Lector appeared significantly larger, his mass probably wasn’t that much greater than my thumb and pinky finger combined. I stood there and contemplated how bad a burning finger would smell. I hoped never to find out. I worried that the stench or smoke would be too large and would attract my neighbors.
I then imagined trying to explain the aforementioned, hypothetical scenario to my neighbors. It went something like this:
Neighbor 1: Mollee-san, did you know there is smoke coming out of your windows?
Neighbor 2: We were worried so we came together.
Mollee: It’s okay. I was just burning a spider. I realize that they’re viewed as protectors of the house here, so I want to assure you it was dead before I lit it on fire. I checked by spraying it with hot water and smacking it with a broom. But it looked dead before I did those things – and it was!
Neighbor 1: …..
Neighbor 2: sou desuka….
Mollee: Thank you for checking on me. I apologize for interrupting your evening.
My Japanese is also awesome in this scenario. I then stood there and contemplated how and if I would actually be able to explain what the heck was going on. I re-questioned whether or not I had a fire alarm. I couldn’t find one.
Eventually, however, I decided that burning a dead spider in my bathtub was a bad choice. I decided to leave it alone and try again the following day. The following day I decided I would use my broom and a dustpan to collect the spider and throw it outside.
*A huntsman spider isn’t actually dangerous unless you are a bug, in which case I want to congratulate you on your master of the English language and urge you to donate your body to science.