Last Saturday, I bought an enormous fuzzy spider at a thrift shop called Second Time Around. It is black with red eyes and was in a large plastic bin with a broken skeleton, two dirty scarecrows, and a whole mess of Christmas ornaments. It was three dollars.
I carried it half a mile back to the Intercontinental Hotel, along an exercise-y walking and biking path. Earlier, when fussing with the hotel espresso machine, I had repeated the word “intercontinental” quietly to myself. It is not often I use a word with six syllables, and I noted the tiny hit of elation that comes with repeating such a long word. I was in Monterey for the weekend, taking advantage of a free hotel room while my husband did a work thing. I like to seek out thrift shops in new cities, which is how I came by the spider who was now escorting me home. It took up the same amount of space as a second person walking beside me. I held it by the head and its fuzzy, wiry legs bonked against my thigh. The sun was strong, and my forehead was sweating.
Families on rented bicycles whizzed past me. An older very tall man on a low-to-the-ground reclining bicycle rolled towards me and just as I thought he looked ridiculous, I remembered I was carrying a large spider.
My companion soon became a very exciting sight to passers-by. A woman jogging past said cheerfully, “Nice spider.” Another man in Birkenstocks said the same thing. At one point, I had to hold the spider aloft to avoid one of its legs smacking the arm of a sleeping child in a stroller. The mother looked annoyed.
I was beginning to feel like a celebrity. I hadn’t gotten this many stares since I was bald last year.
Two little boys came running up. “Can I touch it?” the older one asked. Just as he reached out, I shook the spider and said, “Boo!” He started to cry and ran back to his father’s leg. I booed the second boy too, but he handled it much better, probably because he knew what was coming. Years ago, I would have felt bad, being responsible for a child’s tears. But that day, I felt empowered. Just think, my spider was a possible memory for this child. This tiny future man might remember the day he was scared by a big fuzzy spider and a sweaty woman in a loud flowered t-shirt and oversized sunglasses.
One little boy in a Monterey Bay Aquarium t-shirt asked me quietly if the spider had a name. I said no not yet and asked him to name it for me. I was excited as I waited for his reply. Could we have a spider named Skittles or Mr. Fox? He decided on Spidey which made me think of the time I gave my then two-year-old daughter a doll that she promptly named, “Willa’s Baby.” “Really?” I said to the boy, visibly disappointed by his lack of imagination. “Alright,” I sighed, “Spidey it is.”
On the way up to my hotel room, I thought of how fun it would be to leave it in the elevator and send it back down to the lobby. But I didn’t want to risk my spider being taken from me. I had grown attached to my new friend and looked forward to scaring my husband when he returned from his work thing.
Spidey is home with us now, resting on the coffee table. Tonight I’ll move him to the front door, where it will hopefully give someone a memory.