“Hey, Al, whatcha up to this afternoon?”

“Uhh, wrangling spiders.”

Long pause. “Wrangling…”

“Spiders, yes.”

Another pause. “Is this difficult?”

A shrug [yes, I shrug and gesture while on the phone.] “It’s frustrating at times, but a skill set like everything else.”

“Probably not like everything else.”

“Well, okay, true.”

“So, why are you wrangling spiders?”

“How else are you going to get them to produce the right poses for pics?”

“Right, where was my mind at? Is this a regular Saturday afternoon practice?”

“No, only on the days that I discover a buttload of newborns swarming on the holly tree.”

“This occurs often, does it?”

“This is the first that I recall, actually.”

“So, I’m trying to picture this. Does it involve tiny little lassos?”

“Don’t be silly – they have less of a neck than Henry Rollins.”

“Poor things. What, then, does it involve?”

“Mostly choosing a useful setting, then trying to get them to remain on it while they’re dead set to run away. It involves a little probe, a card to scoop under them as they run across the table, and lots of patience in dealing with their draglines all over the place.”

“Why aren’t you photographing them where you found them?”

“I did, quite a few frames. But the wind isn’t cooperating and I wanted some shots detailed enough to submit for identification, or use for anatomical illustrations. So I opted for more controlled conditions.”

“I am inferring from this that they don’t take direction.”

“Not the newborns, no.”

“But the adults?”

“Not them either.”
“Just how big are we talking, here?”

“Three to four millimeters in body length.”

“You’re more nearsighted than I thought, aren’t you?”

“Well, a few thousand years ago I would have died early from mistaking a mastodon for a storm cloud.”

“Never take our modern life for granted. So, are you taking your mad spider skills on the circuit?”

What, and sully the purity of the form?!

“I apologize – I’m thinking like a plebeian. Plus I imagine there isn’t much competition anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’ve never been in conversation with someone at a party and heard that they wrangle spiders.”

“You’re still not keeping up.”

“Ah. You’d have to be invited to a party first, wouldn’t you?”


“Didn’t mean to rub it in. But tell me, why do they have ten legs?”

“What makes you say that they have ten legs?”
“I’m looking at the illustrations while we talk.”

“Right. No, the front two are pedipalps. Pretty much like legs, but used for manipulating food and during sex. Normally they appear much smaller, but these are newborns so I suppose that’s the difference.”

“Al, you do know that most people would find this creepy?”

“Yeah, but, you know? Most people need to get over it. Spiders aren’t very different from the rest of the arthropods, and certainly not dangerous – it’s so hard to actually tally the number of spider bites because the symptoms are identical to half a million other things, including tick bites and infections. Motor vehicles are thousands of times more dangerous and no one shrieks when they see one.”

“You’re pontificating. Almost like a blog post.”

“Sorry. I suppose you didn’t call to find out about spiders.”

“Yeah, actually, I was checking to see if you wanted to watch the game over a few beers.”

“No, seriously? Why would I want to do something that pointless?”

“Hey, a lot of people like it.”

“Yeah, go back to that pontification bit.”

“All right, never mind. Have fun with the spiders.”

“Thanks, actually, I am.”

[Yes, this is a fictional conversation – no one I know would have to ask about spider wrangling. Plus they’re familiar with pedipalps.]

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3 thoughts on “Conversation”

  1. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent info being shared freely out there.

    [Editor’s note: Once again, the URL was messed up, leading to some bullshit site. Fixed it.]

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