My ticklish two-step with a stubborn spider

Several times into the first few minutes of the movie we had rented, I laughed - for me, a rare reaction to movies classified as comedies. I had been watching spiders in our house. While I want to be generous and share our habitat, as the warmer weather of spring and summer opened here in central Oregon and brought abundant insects, I have at every opportunity moved our household spiders outside. Since our windows are well screened, the spiders will make a better living outside, and I am more at ease with them out of the house.

An effective way to move a spider is to wait until it is on a flat surface and imprison it under a glass. Then, gently slip a piece of paper under the glass and allow the spider to walk onto the paper or up inside the glass. Raise the glass, and keep the opening closed with the paper. Take the temporary prison outside and allow the spider to escape. I did that with several spiders in the days before we watched the movie.

Though the movie was absorbing my attention, I knew immediately what to do with the spider that descended from the ceiling on a strand strung behind her, two feet in front of me. This time, I wouldn't use the glass prison.

I stood up and interrupted her web with the forefinger of my right hand and began walking toward the door. The single, sticky strand adhered to my finger. The spider reacted to my breaking the strand above her by spinning out more web and speeding toward the floor. I wasn't confident I could catch her again if she made it to the floor and scurried off, so I bent down, interrupted her web with my left hand, and raised it. I immediately had to dip down again with my right to try to outpace her rapid descent. I repeatedly broke her strand and raised it (and her) while I walked toward the door.

My wife, Laura, still watching the movie, didn't see the spider. She had no idea why I was doing this odd pantomime - concentrating, as far as she could tell, on the thin air in front of me. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Jon, are you all right? What is going on? What is the matter?"

The spider was small, and it took concentration to keep my eyes on her and stay ahead of her effort to escape. I heard what Laura was saying, but couldn't break my concentration by responding.

When I got to the door, I found it locked, and it took considerable acrobatics to unlock it and still keep the spider from landing on the floor or on the door. I would answer Laura in a few seconds, as soon as I completed my mission.

I got the door unlocked and opened. I reached outside just as the spider landed on the wide threshold. In her effort to escape the monster that was manhandling her strand, she set off immediately in the direction she faced when she landed, back toward the inside of the house. I didn't want to lose what progress I had made, so I fell to my knees and cupped both hands in front of her. She took the hint, turned, and ran outside. I backed up, shut the door, and stood up.

Because I had gotten busier every second as my strange dance progressed, I had not answered Laura. My attention had been on the spider, and I didn't realize Laura had gotten more and more upset at seeing her husband do a very strange, very energetic, totally inexplicable dance across the front room; bowing down, standing up straighter, and bowing down again with his arms rotating in the air, culminating in terrible scrabbling at the front door, him dropping to his knees in a prayerful attitude at the open door, then crawling backward, slamming the door, and standing up with a satisfied expression.

When I turned from the door, I realized Laura's concern had escalated until she wondered if some demon had taken possession of me. I quickly explained what had happened - that I had been too preoccupied with moving the spider to respond to her questions.

Seeing my wild dance with the spider as it must have appeared from Laura's perspective struck me as funny, and I laughed more than I had at the beginning of the movie, which we eventually got back to, in a spider-free environment.

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