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The Rational Human

I'm a pretty rational guy. I think things through, generally don't jump to rash conclusions or take unconsidered actions.

This morning—a typically uneventful morning—I got into the shower at about the usual time. Warm water, shampoo and soap, the standard routine. Rinsed off, turned off the water, whipped the shower curtain aside to reach for my towel (a green bath sheet) on the towel bar. Started drying off in the usual way, a vigorous rubdown from head to toe.

I reached the point where it was time to dry the legs and feet. Right foot first, on the edge of the bathtub, dried off my foot and lower leg, and stepped with that leg halfway out of the tub to repeat the process with my left leg.

That's when I saw the spider on my right ankle.

My rational existence pretty much goes out the window when there's a spider the size of a quarter or larger within 10 feet of my person, or a spider of any size actually on my person.

The autonomic nervous system went into Emergency Alert Mode, instantly dumping a full shot of adrenaline into my system. Heart rate sky-high, senses preternaturally alert, the whole nine yards. The fight-or-flight response scenarios rushed through my head and, astoundingly, I chose a Modified Flight Response.

Or at least that's how I consider my astonishingly restrained reaction of reaching down, picking up the spider in my bare hand, and walking with it through my apartment to the patio, where I released it to the wild.

My usual response, the Standard Fight Sequence, is to gather up a wad of toilet paper, paper towel, or other similar item; use this wad to collect the spider in such a way that the paper contains only harmless disassembled spider bits; and flush the whole thing into oblivion (if TP) or toss it deep into the trash bin (if towel or other) where it never again will see the light of day.

The sense of triumph after an event of this magnitude is so sweet. For 15 seconds or so, that mild euphoria flows freely: "I cheated death!" Then there's usually a small pang of guilt for decimating one of God's Creatures, followed by a wary return to whatever activity I was undertaking at the moment of discovery. Because you never know if the spider's buddies might come flowing out of the woodwork to wreak horrible revenge.

I've seen the cheesy B-movies. I know how these things work.

It's nice to know, however, that if I'm ever caught unawares by a tiger or bear or other large actually deadly creature in my bathroom, I'll be up to the task of producing the adrenaline and whatnot required to scream loudly and cower in a corner in the most rapid way possible.