I tell stories; it’s what I do — run my mouth or type fast as I can. Sometimes I embellish them a little bit just for flavor, but this one retelling needs no other elements than God’s honest truth. I almost died in a fiery car crash yesterday. You read that last part right. After spending the last three years and change separated from my precious little Mama and even longer separated from other beloved friends and family I almost rejoined them on the other side right near mile marker 22 on I-385 northbound.
Yesterday was Tuesday so as per schedule I was on my way home from visiting Granny at the nursing home in Clinton. It was a completely normal day. I was a little bummed that Granny hadn’t wanted to interact with me after her initial toothless grin of recognition, but she takes spells like that. I may go down next week and find her chattering away in her baby talk and we’ll have a conversation of sorts for an hour.
Anyway, back to the near death experience. I was clipping along in my ’03 Honda Element aka. “The Brave Little Toaster” with the A/C on max, listening to my tunes cranked up loud on my iPod, and just generally enjoying the bright sunshine. I had a semi truck in front of me, a big Ford truck behind me, and generally modest traffic scattered about here and there. All was moderately well with the world for a moment.
I should have known it wouldn’t last.
Just as I crossed the bridge at the WalMart Distribution Center where State 221 and I-385 cross, I felt a tickle on my right foot — my accelerator foot. I reached over with my left foot and scratched said tickle, but the tickle didn’t go away. Instead, the tickle transferred to the left foot around the front of my ankle. I was curious so I looked down; looking back at me was a spider somewhere between the size of my thumbnail and a dinner plate and it was taking a leisurely eight legged stroll up my left leg towards the open gap in my shorts.
One would not be remiss in saying I was somewhat troubled and chagrined by this completely unexpected situation. One would ALSO not be remiss in saying I momentarily but completely lost my @#$%ing $#%&. As far as I could determine, a Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula had miraculously teleported from the jungles of South America to about eight inches below my left knee. Perhaps it was instead a deadly Southeastern Brown Recluse with the lethal white violin shape prominently on its back. Forgive me if I not only couldn’t be sure of the species of arachnid approaching an opening in my shorts, but I also DID NOT CARE in the moment.
All I knew for certain was a @#$%ing spider was crawling up my leg. Comparative Arachnology wasn’t in my stream of consciousness.
Now thankfully, in the midst of such adrenaline fueled situations, the brain really shows its true worth . . . not so much the frontal lobe, that’s pretty much shut down at the moment, but the instinctual parts of our grey matter which remember the times long ago when humans were just another item on the menu. That part of my brain took over and made me realize immediately I was in serious trouble. I could neither put on brakes nor let off the gas and use my right foot to remove the eight legged freak from my left shin. Had I slowed down so abruptly, the truck behind me would have run me over like Gravedigger at a Monster Truck Jam.
As it was, I started violently pounding my leg against the floorboard in hopes of dislodging the intruder. This caused me to swerve off the road at highway speed. I know I swerved off the road because the newly installed rumble strips made my teeth chatter. I jerked the wheel back to the left and almost overcorrected right into the Jane Mansfield Bar of the semi truck in front of me. The whole time, I’m doing a one legged cross between a Mexican Hat Dance and a Russian Sword Dance while thousands of cars and trucks around me are helping me concentrate by laying down on their horns.
Now let me pause here to address a question which has come up both times I told this story yesterday: “Why didn’t you just pull over and stop?”
Actually, that would have been an excellent idea but you must remember at the time I was mostly using the Og and Thag parts of my brain and cavemen don’t have really good grasps of the mechanics of driving a car; they are, however, excellent at the realization a @#$%ing spider was crawling up my leg. One must make due with the resources one has at the time and higher order thinking skills were up on a chair in the frontal lobe screaming like little girls.
Now, somehow, and I have no idea of the exact mechanism, all my gyrations managed to dislodge the a @#$%ing spider from my leg. That was the good news. The bad news was I knew neither where it fell nor what it’s immediate plans were. All I knew for certain was A) a @#$%ing spider was no longer crawling up my leg and B) I almost ate up the back end of a semi truck.
In the next thirty seconds or so, I started to breath a little normally. The frontal lobe came back online enough to get me moved to the back of the pack of traffic so I was no longer in immediate danger of causing a Talladega backstretch style of pileup on the highway. It is lucky that I did so because about thirty more seconds later, I felt that tell-tale tickle on my right leg again. This time though, I was prepared. I glanced down and flicked mini-Rodan off my leg with my left foot and he landed right next to that left foot as I put it down.
Now ladies and gentlemen, I am not a violent man. I love all God’s creatures except cockroaches, mosquitoes, and UGA football fans. I bear no real malice towards creepy crawlies like snakes and spiders. I feel in my heart everything on earth is just trying to get by as best as it can. Unfortunately for the spider now next to my left foot on the floorboard of the car, those gentle thoughts are the province of that pesky frontal lobe and not all of it had made it off the stool and stopped screaming like a little girl. Og and Thag were still pretty much running the show. As a result, I did not hesitate to stomp on that spider like he had said something offensive about my mother.
I wiggled my foot around. I stomped three or four more times. I’d just seen a glimpse of the tunnel of light, my life had flashed before my eyes; therefore I was taking no chances. I turned that poor spider into spider mush and proceeded to drive on home still shaking a little bit. I pulled into the safety of my driveway and turned off the car. Then I grabbed a wad of napkins from the center console because, after all, the spider had been a valiant foe and deserved to be properly disposed of in the trash can . . . plus I didn’t want a zombie spider loose in my car.
As I bent down to collect the remains, I got a whiff of a terrible smell. It seemed to be coming from the spider carcass. I wiped him up and brought him up to eye level to examine him more closely. I can tell you with absolute certainty had he so much as twitched, I would not be writing this post as my heart had borne all it could in one day so I’m certain I would have passed out and split my head open on a rock and died there in the driveway.
Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead, I examined the spider remains. It wasn’t a wolf spider or a black widow. In fact, it turned out to not be a spider at all. It was instead a rather large example of the stink bugs which have taken over South Carolina the last few years.
That would’ve been nice to know thirty miles earlier!
Love y’all and keep those feet clean.