A namesake with eight hairy legs
I have a creepy, crawly namesake back in Indiana.Warning: Arachnophobes better stop reading now.She – or at least I think its a she – has hairy legs. That’s why my dad named one of his pets (and I shudder as I type that) after me.I don’t really have hairy legs, or armpits for that matter. But dear-old Dad loves to say that’s why I inspired this particular tarantula’s name.Very funny, Dad.Teasing to him is like breathing. And you think I’m kidding.Instead of April, Little Miss Muffet would probably be a more appropriate name. Spiders are not a girl’s best friend.But neither are hairy body parts.Last week, my dad just celebrated his 21st birthday – as he says every year – and I bought him “The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide” on amazon.com (no pun intended).I figure with three tarantulas, he’s pretty close to a keeper. My mother, the brave soul she is, might wonder each time he adds one to the collection.I’m not really surprised my dad has three tarantulas as pets. In another life, he was probably an arachnologist, animal behaviorist or reptile vet.Heck, he could be Spiderman for all we know.When I say my dad is an animal lover, that extends to arachnids, reptiles and saltwater fish. I remember having a black tarantula when I was about 6 years old. My mom thought it was dead the first time it shed its skin.We also had a snake that escaped from its aquarium and was hiding behind the blender in the kitchen when my mom went to mix something. Guess who she was hoping was dead at that moment?I’m not extremely terrified of tarantulas, but one of my dad’s spiders is called a Goliath Bird-eating Tarantula that can grow to the size of a dinner plate.Anything that can eat a bird should not be eating or sleeping in my childhood bedroom, especially when I’m home for the holidays.”The Nightmare Before Christmas” has nothing on me trying to fall asleep a few feet away from a bird-eating spider.Not only is one of my dad’s pet spiders capable of eating a flying animal, but I’ve heard tarantulas can hiss, whistle and bark.Only cats should hiss, dogs bark and boyfriends whistle when their girlfriends are all dolled up on Valentine’s Day.Certainly not a flippin’ animal with eight legs.And certainly not the big, hairy kind that live in my old bedroom.The spiders don’t really bother me if they’re not crawling all over me while camping, or say, joining me in the shower.A couple of years ago, I was home during the summer, before the corn wasn’t quite “knee-high by Fourth of July,” as they say. I grew up with a cornfield in front of my house and a soybean field in back, depending on the year, as they would rotate.Those cornfields are home to these big freaky brown spiders that, along with the ’80s movie “Children of the Corn,” made me fear playing hide-and-go-seek in the stalks.That didn’t mean we didn’t do it. Risk makes life more fun, even if running through a web spreading from stalk to stalk is about as fun as watching “Arachnophobia” with the lights off.But back to the spider shower scene. I was going to shave my hairy legs when one of the brown suckers decided to give my leg a climb.I flipped out like a Desperate Housewife after a Vanity Fair cover shoot.My mom heard me scream, ran into the bathroom and found me huddled in the corner of the shower in the fetal position, crying and naked as the day I was born.Good thing my mom came to my rescue.Even that would scare Spiderman.April E. Clark read on pbs.org that Miss Muffet was a real girl whose father made her eat mashed spiders when she was sick – a common cold treatment 200 years ago. So much for NyQuil. She also doesn’t believe in the urban legend that the average person swallows eight spiders per year. She can be reached at 945-8515, ext. 518, or email@example.com.
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This will be my 500th column — my final column in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.