Here’s a quick and fun story I wrote this morning in one sitting. For those who follow me on social, you’ll know I have a tumultuous relationship with spiders in my house. I thought it would fun to sit down with a spider and hash out our differences. If I were the spider, what would I say? From this, perhaps there is a way for me to show more empathy toward my unwanted housemates.
“I understand you two are having a bit of tension in your relationship,” the therapist said.
“Oh no, we don’t have a relationship,” Gary was quick to point out.
“Here we go,” the spider scoffed.
“Very well then,” the therapist said, sitting back in a large armchair, looking at the two as they sat across from each other, forced to make eye contact. “Gary, why don’t we start with you? What’s on your mind?”
“Yes, what’s on your mind, Gary?” the spider said with pent up frustration. “Let’s hash it out once and for all.Tell the good doctor here what’s your problem with me.”
“What’s my problem with you? Where do I start?” Gary said, letting out a deep breath. “You climb up walls and show up places where I’m not expecting you.”
“So? You’re the only bug that does that. I hate it.”
“First of all, don’t call me a bug, okay. That’s rude. Second, I’m not the only insect that does that. Silverfish, ants, centipedes, cockroaches and other kinds of beetles, moths… and in some parts of the world, they even have geckos that climb on walls.”
“We’re not talking about geckos and beetles or moths, we’re talking about you. You’re fast—”
“Okay, so you’re getting upset at me because I’m fast? I didn’t know being fast was a crime.”
“You interrupted me, I wasn’t finished making my point,” Gary said.
“Go on, Gary,” the therapist said.
“Thank you. Like I was saying, you’re fast, you stick to stuff, you dangle from webs. You make webs that I walk into and have to clean up. You scare the cat—”
“We were playing.”
“He’s not playing with you. He doesn’t even like you, bro!”
“You know what, this is another one of your problems, you don’t listen. You’re stubborn. You’re never willing to admit when you’re wrong or when something is your fault.”
“Are you?” the spider retorted.
“Plenty of times.”
“Alright, let’s not get too heated,” the therapist interjected. “Why don’t you address each of these issues one by one?”
“The way I look at it,” the spider began, “is that I have to do all those things to survive, okay? You would do the same thing if you were me. How about you show a little empathy.”
“Empathy? What are you even talking about?” Gary said with a furrowed brow.
“The webs — they help me catch food and get around. A fish needs to swim, a squirrel’s gotta get a nut, right? Well, I need my web. Without it I die. But, that’s really not your concern is it… if I die?”
“I have to.”
“Silverfish don’t bite.”
“Come on, bro, are you really comparing me to silverfish?”
“You brought up silverfish earlier!”
“They’re simpletons, half-wit scavengers, living in walls and only coming out at night like cowards. I bite to survive. In case you haven’t noticed, you are a million times bigger than me. What am I supposed to do when you come at me, bro? You don’t think I have things to do later? You don’t think I have places to be? You don’t think I have others who care about me? I have a family — a family that loves me and wants me to come home safely with some dinner, which by the way is doing you a favour.”
“You know how many more creepy crawlies would be in your house, in your bed, buzzing around laying eggs and multiplying. You should thank me.”
“Look, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted and I just want to return home, see my wife and my kids, kick my feet up and relax. If I bite you, it’s because you were trying to take me from my family. Just because you grew up without a father, doesn’t mean my kids have to.”
“What did you just say?”
“All, I’m saying is that it was self-defence.”
“Ah, so it was self-defence?”
“What about the time you bit me in my sleep? I didn’t do anything to you.”
“Okay, here he goes again,” the spider said in an exaggerated tone. “He keeps talking about the one time I bit him in his sleep. First of all, that was a lifetime ago.”
“It was last week.”
“Some of us don’t live as long as you.”
“No, don’t whatever, you brought it up, so let’s talk about it. Was I in your bed? Yes, but your bed takes up most of the room. I needed to get home and that was the quickest way. You rolled over and I may have acted in haste, I’m willing to admit that, and I bit. I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m proud of what I did, and I already apologized to you. Besides, I didn’t even inject you with any venom.”
“Like that matters.”
“It does matter. It shows intent. I didn’t want to see you get hurt, I just wanted you to roll over and get your leg off me. I think that should be noted. If I was trying to hurt you, you would know. In fact, you weren’t even aware that I bit you until like two days after. I was in the bathroom when you noticed the bite mark. You thought it was a pimple.”
“No I didn’t, I knew right away you bit me and I was pissed. You’re lucky I didn’t find you, I would have squashed you.”
“Hence why I have to hide. You see now what I have to deal with, doc?” the spider looked over at the therapist, trying to win sympathy.
“It’s my house! You’re in my house, I have every right,” Gary shouted.
“Your house? Really? I’m glad you brought this up, let’s talk about it. You humans are so entitled, aren’t you? My family has been in this neighbourbood before it even was a neighbourhood. There were trees, and bushes, and endless food. Then one day you humans come along and put up some walls around my spot and suddenly it becomes your home. What about me? Where is my family supposed to live?”
“Outside where you belong.”
“Ouch, I’ll pretend you didn’t just say that.”
“What was offensive about that?”
“You basically just gave me the ‘go back where you came from’ speech. I thought you were above that. Guess I was wrong.”
“No I didn’t.”
“You did and I have a witness. Doc, back me up?”
“Okay guys, stop,” the therapist said. “What does each of you hope to come from this?”
“Respect. Plain and simple,” the spider said. “I want to be able to live comfortably, spend time with my family, pursue my ambitions, nurture my talents.”
“Pff, talents,” Gary scoffed under his breath.
“I’m sorry, do you have something you’d like to say to me?” the spider shot back. “You ever try making a web? I assure you it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s a skill like any other that requires a great deal of patience and focus, but I wouldn’t expect you to know anything about that.”
“You see what he just did? No respect. How can you demand respect when you don’t give it?”
“He’s right, you know?” the therapist said. “I’m not taking anyone’s side here, but from what I have seen today, you both have shown a lack of respect toward each other.”
“Better put some ‘spect on my name,” the spider said.
“You know how derogatory it is to call me ‘the spider’. I have a name… it’s Gary.”
“Wait, I thought you were Gary,” the therapist said, pointing to the human.
“My name is Gary, he copied me.”
“I didn’t copy no one, my mother gave me this name.”
“Oh, your mother, the one who lived rent free in my basement for three years. I wonder where she came up with that name?”
“Yes, my mother, the one that you sucked up in your vacuum. Had a really great Christmas by myself that year. Thanks a lot.”
“Better I do the sucking that she.”
“Yo, what did you say about my mother?”
“Gentlemen, please. Gary, what do you hope to come from this meeting?”
“I want that spider out of my house. I don’t want to constantly be checking over my shoulder, being paranoid that he’s hiding under my covers, on my pillowcase, crawling on me at night. I don’t want to be reaching for something and he thinking I’m trying to kill him and biting me again.”
“That was one time.”
“You’re missing the point!”
“Okay, everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down. There’s far too much hostility between you today and I don’t feel we will resolve anything in this one session. May I propose we put a pin in our conversation and reconvene the same time next week?”
“Alright then. In the meantime, try not to kill each other.”