On my way to the grocery store yesterday I noticed a small red spider hanging in the crack between the driver’s side window frame and the window. I wasn’t surprised to see him. My car is the kind that is conducive to spider inhabitation (and fruit leather wrappers, junk mail, dog hair, old gym towel inhabitation as well.) I’ve encountered spiders in my car before. They generally lower themselves into my vision as I’m about to make a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. But this spider was in a more precarious position.
He was dangling from the single thread, twisting and turning in the wind (60 km per hour according to my reckoning) that threatened to at any moment blow him out of the window.
With his jaunty red aspect, he reminded me of one of those fabulous French extreme sports adventurers I’m always reading about. You know, the ones who scale Everest without the aid of oxygen, the ones who parachute off cliffs using kites made out of old sheets, the ones who spend weeks in the wilderness equipped with nothing more than a copy of Sartre and a bag of flour. The ones who laugh in the face of danger. (They are the snappier and marginally saner version of the iconic American and British adventurers who drink a lot and wear old one piece snowsuits on their travels.)
From my peripheral vision, I watched him clinging to his string and making his agonized (I presume) way up, then down, the tiny thread that stood between him and death. I wondered if Red was a legend in spider circles, his daring second only to his nonchalance. Would Red write a book about the Great Honda Windstorm of 2003? Or would the John Krakauer or the Sebastian Junger of the arachnid world turn him into a legend? Either way, Red’s days are probably numbered. Adventure lit is clear on one thing: the apotheosis of any adventurer’s career comes at the point of death. The most famous climbers are the dead ones.
This is good news to a woman who is afraid of heights. Good luck to you, Red. Without free spirits with low cortical arousal thresholds like you my car rides would be far less exciting.