Snot-scaring spiders

I recently read an article about spiders and their place in different cultures.

As some of you may already know, I do not like spiders. They scare the snot out of me.

In my teen years, my then-girlfriend thought it would be great fun to throw a rather large, ugly spider at me. I am not ashamed to admit I screamed like a frightened school girl in a haunted house.

I then did the spider dance and was generally creeped out for the rest of the day.

There are many articles that talk about how beneficial the little critters are.

I have never argued their benefit to the world, I have just demanded their execution on sight. No trial, no jury and no mercy, just straight to the death chamber commonly known as the bottom of my shoe.

The only good spider is a spider that has been smashed into a unrecognizable pile of goo. Now, that's my kind of arachnid.

The article talked about how spiders are revered in some cultures. 

Let's just say I am not from that culture.

Some cultures eat spiders, and I say go ahead because remember a dead spider is a good spider, just don't invite me over for dinner.

“No, thank you, I'm full. I ate when I left Canada.”

Some people keep spiders as pets. Friends had a teen-ager who had a tarantula as a pet. One day, she was talking to my wife and said the tarantula had escaped its enclosure.

My wife asked how many times that had happened.

Slamming my foot to the ground as hard as I could my answer was, “Once.”

And I meant it. If I were at their house and the eight-legged horror was walking across the room, they would have one less pet to feed (and a carpet to clean.)

The article said Hindus in eastern Bengal collect spiders and let them go at weddings as a sign of good luck.
Who in the blue hell thinks a small army of spiders crawling all over the place is good luck? 

I would rather have the wedding guests stick pencils up my nose and make me bark like a walrus for good luck.

It might be good luck for my wife though, because she could start our marriage by cashing in my life insurance.

If there are 100 people at the wedding and each one let even one spider go, that would be it for me. I would see all these little eight-legged nasties running around and I would be out of there so fast the wind from me leaving would knock people over.

But if you think that is bad, the article went on to describe another tradition in Egypt where it is common practice to place a spider in the bed of the newly married couple.

OK, hold it. Stop right there. Folks, you have just crossed the line.

Putting a spider in my bed is quite possibly the worst idea I have ever heard.

Can you imagine being all in love and happy about the nuptials only to find a bug-eyed monster staring back at you from the honeymoon love lounger?

It would be the shortest honeymoon in the history of honeymoons.

“Honey, why don't you pull the sheets back. I'll be right there.”

“Why yes my love, that sounds like a great plan.”

“Honey, what was that high-pitched scream? Honey? Honey?”

The next sound would be the door breaking as I ran through it to get out of the room.

Throwing rice and toilet-papering the car is quite enough of a wedding tradition for me, thank you.


In love with The Tape

It is by far one of the greatest inventions ever created by the human race.

The automobile: handy, but hard on the environment.

The computer: a vital part of modern life but a real pain in the….

Those may be fine inventions that have helped human kind, but sitting very close to the top of the list is The Tape.

Men already know what tape I am talking about. There could be only one sticky item of which I speak and that is duct tape.

I can hear men throughout the Valley grunting their approval for the multi-talented creation that men, real men I might add, have embraced throughout the world.

I love The Tape.

I do not know how the world survived without it. Had they had a whole bunch of The Tape on Titanic, well, let's just say the movie would had to have a much different ending.

Instead of what's his name sinking to a frozen death, he would run around like a man possessed, taping up the hull, saving the ship and the fair maiden.

What else on this planet other than The Tape could have pulled off such heroics. Nothing, that's what.

Your arm got cut off in an industrial accident? No problem, just grab The Tape, a few well-placed strips and it's as good as new.

The Tape also comes in a variety of colours, greatly increasing its applications to everything from fixing clothing (yes, I did close a rip in an old jacket  with The Tape one time) to holding the international space station together.

Is there no end to the marvels of the shiny wonder.

But even though there are more uses for The Tape than there are corrupt politicians, my wife still mocks one of man's greatest achievements.

I know, I don't understand it either. She just does not see the value of this invaluable aid to humanity.

Despite witnessing first-hand the prowess of The Tape, still she mocks.

Without The Tape, a return trip from Saskatoon would have been a disaster. It was in the spring and we had a van load of six people and enough luggage to trek across the Andes and back crammed into every nook and cranny of the silver Mazda.

I even put on a roof-top carrier because the teenage girl we were bringing back from Toon Town had as much luggage as the rest of us combined.

She had a make-up box that was just slightly smaller than a pool table. Why she needed that much face goop is beyond me.

Anyway, we were heading down the No. 1 with a blistering wind crossing the road. The air was moving at approximately 3,000 km/h and the dust was so thick in spots it was a near, um, brown out I guess you would call it.

A big rig passed in the other direction and nearly ripped the lid off of the car top carrier. I remember looking in the rearview mirror and seeing all these bags of stuff bouncing down the road. It did not fully register those were our bags until I spotted one of my daughter's dolly in a green dress skip across the asphalt.

I laid on the brakes, pulled over and ran back to collect everything. We did not lose anything, but we still had hundreds of kilometres to drive with a car top carrier that had seen better times.

What to do, what to do? I only had to think for a few seconds before the answer became clear.

The Tape.

I grabbed a role of the silver-coloured saviour and wrapped it around the front of the carrier, thus sealing it from blowing open, thus saving the trip and the world, thus once again proving it is an invaluable addition to the human race.

Viva la Tape.

That was many years ago. The Missus still mocks, but for at least a few hours on that fateful day, The Tape rule supreme and even the little woman had to admit The Tape was a darned fine invention

It wasn't a smart thing to do

I knew what I had done the instant it happened. 

Even before the pain went from my little finger to my little brain, I knew I had screwed up.

I was trimming the top of a rather tall cedar hedge when I nearly lopped off the baby finger on my left hand.

I was half-way up a four-metre ladder and was reaching to the far side of the hedge when disaster struck.

Sure, I could have moved the ladder over a little bit, but that would mean climbing down the ladder, moving it a few inches, climbing back up…. It just seemed like too much effort, so I decided to reach for it instead.

Before I continue, I would just like to say I never claimed to be overly bright, something loyal readers will confirm no doubt.

To get to the far side of the top of the hedge, I reached out as far as I could, holding the electric trimmer in one hand while squeezing the on-switch trigger thingy.

No problem and all went well until I brought the trimmer back toward me and attempted to grab the round handle on the top of the trimmer.

I say attempted because had I succeeded, this column would not exist.

Instead of grabbing the little black handle, I missed and my little finger did its impression of a branch and the trimmer did its impression of a trimmer chopping up my finger.

As soon as I felt the little metal teeth of the trimmer hit my finger, I knew what I had done. There was nothing else to do but wait for the pain, and stop the bleeding.

The pain arrived — big time — as did the blood.

It is amazing how much plasma you can distribute upon the Earth from a few chops with a reciprocating metal blade.

I climbed down the ladder just as the Missus came outside to see me holding my hand with blood dripping to the ground, creating a kind of CSI home edition thing.

My wife is a nurse, so the injury did not faze her in the least.

She leapt into immediate action, and grabbed gauze and whatever else she needed all the while doing her best to stifle any and all comments of the smart aleck variety, which I believe was the most challenging part of the whole scenario for her.

I know she had more than a few comments she wanted to send my way, but choked them down — until the medical procedure was taken care of anyway.

When my kids heard dad had cut his finger, they came running out to survey the scene.

“You mean you didn't cut it off? Awwww, bummer.”

“Thanks, kids. I'm OK, really. Don't worry about your ol' dad. He's a trooper. He'll be fine. Thanks for caring.”

Once the bleeding was under control, it was off to the walk-in clinic for some up-close-and-personal care of the doctor variety.

After I had spent the mandatory amount of time in the waiting room, I was escorted into the little doctor room where the doctor does all of his medical-type stuff.

In this case, the first thing he did was cause me a lot more pain.

The sadist, I mean doctor, put a needle directly into the open wound and it took a few seconds before the freezing kicked in — a few long and painful seconds.

“This may sting a little.”

A little? Did you just say a little?

“Hey, doc, this might sting a little, because I am going to kick you square in the….”

But once the freezing kicked in, all was forgiven.

Actually, it wasn't, but the man was about to sew up a body part, so I felt I should be on my best behaviour.

I set a record that day — eight stitches — beating my previous record by two.

I no longer have feeling in the tip of that finger, but that is OK, considering how much feeling I had when it was chopped and stuck with a needle, not feeling anything felt pretty good.


Boys do things differently

Boys can be gross little critters.

They don’t necessarily mean to be, it’s just the nature of possessing testosterone without the maturity to wield it.

Testosterone is kind of like the Force. Once you learn how to control it, it can be of great benefit, but if it is unchecked, it leads to the dark side, and the dark side usually involves something that will gross out mom and dad.

Mind you, when boys grow up, testosterone can still lead to some uncouth situations. I highly doubt it was a refined woman who invented the globally popular Pull my finger gag.

Not too long ago, I was talking to a lady who was appalled by the actions of some of the young boys in her neighbourhood. The lads were around 10 years old and full of vinegar and puppy dog tails or what ever else they are supposed to be made of.

It would seem these future leaders of our nation decided it would be more fun to pee in their water guns and squirt each other than to just fill them with boring old water.

When she told me and another father, I had to chuckle.

They looked at me like I was demented.

“You both only have girls, don’t you?”

They did, and were thus unfamiliar with the minds of little men. I doubt a girl would ever think of doing such a thing.

I know it is disgusting and I am certainly not endorsing it, but it is something little boys do, and parents who only have girls simply do not understand.

Most girls are all cute and sweet, while boys are more like chimpanzees on a sugar high.

I am sure boys are where the term ‘perpetual motion’ came from, because it seems little boys never stop moving, doing things or looking for new adventures, which translates into getting in to trouble.

They don’t necessarily mean to get in trouble, it just kind of happens.

One day, my oldest son was looking at this small, black thing he took out of his pocket.

I assumed it was a rock or something and I asked what he had.

“It’s a bird’s stomach,” was his matter-of-fact reply.

I stopped dead in my tracks and contemplated his response.

“A what?” was my somewhat horrified reaction.

“I also have what I think is a heart and a lung.”

My mind raced at the information I was hearing.

“OK, calm down. There are plenty of good psychiatrists in town. That’s it, all he needs is a little assistance. He will be fine. All little boys carry animal parts in their pocket – right?”

My next concern was how he came into possession of said body parts.

He explained that he had found a dead bird behind the shed and decided to take it apart to see what was in it.

He always enjoyed taking things apart which, until that moment in time, I thought was a good thing. He was expanding his knowledge, exploring how things worked – now it was just a one-way ticket to Barf City.

He did not have any surgical tools or even a pocketknife, so he pulled it apart with his fingers.

I would just like to say – eeeeeeeewww. Now, that is disgusting.

He did not know it was gross, he was just a curious seven year old with no concern for minor details like germs, bacteria, malaria or the plague.

Again, I doubt most girls would ever do that.

While girls are having imaginary tea parties, Junior was performing a do-it-yourself autopsy.

“Go in the house and wash your hands – a lot. Use the entire bar of soap and don’t touch anything on the way in. Just keep your hands in the air. Wait, let me open the door and turn on the taps.

No! Don’t touch me. No! Don’t touch the cat either.”

“Can I keep the stomach?”


Boys just do things differently.

More The Shoebox articles

About the Author

Darren Handschuh has been working as a writer and photographer in the media industry for the past 25 years. He is married, has three children, a dog and two cats (although he is not completely sure how that part happened).

He takes a humourous look at life, and has often said, “I might as well laugh at myself, everyone else does.” 

His writings have been compared to a collection of words from the English language assembled in a somewhat coherent manner. High praise indeed.

Life gives Darren plenty of material for his column, and no one is safe from his musings – especially himself. 

He regularly writes to his blog www.therudemonkey.blogspot.ca.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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