I was frying up some eggs this morning for me and my youngest son. Three of the four were in the pan, and as I tapped the last egg against the side of the pan to crack it, I saw a Huge. Ass. Motherf#@ing. Spider. In the pan. Sizzling in the oil.
I did what any reasonable, smart, well-educated, outdoorsy, nature-loving, competent adult would do: I stood there with the cracked egg dripping into my hand, and screamed.
Andrew ran into the kitchen. “Mom! Are you ok? What’s wrong?”
All I could do was gesture, egg dripping down my arm, to the pan.
He looked. And he did what any reasonable, smart, well-educated, outdoorsy, nature-loving, competent adult would do: he screamed. Well, to be fair, it was less of a scream and more of a really loud “holy shit,” but I’ll count it as a scream for literary purposes.
At this point, the sizzling spider popped loudly. I screamed again. “Do something!”
So my resourceful college sophomore grabbed a couple of spoons and extricated the deep-fried arachnid from the frying pan.
As he dumped the spider in the trashcan, I plopped what was still contained in the open eggshell into the pan.
I tossed the shell into the garbage and washed my hands, as I contemplated the big question: Do we eat the eggs from the spider pan?
Medical analysis: as Andrew pointed out, the pan was full of boiling oil – no spider-trafficked microbes were likely to maintain their pathogenicity.
Human analysis: Ew.
Medical analysis: any potential toxin from semi-exploded spider unlikely to be potent enough in whatever traces might have reached egg to cause any noticeable clinical effect.
Human analysis: Ew.
Practical considerations: out of eggs upstairs, in a bit of a rush, and hungry.
We ate the eggs. I gave the ones furthest from the spider to Andrew, took the somewhat close one for myself, and tossed out the one that had gone directly onto the spot where the eight-legged creature had actually been. I viewed that as a reasonable approach. You know, from a clinical standpoint.
Anyway, the spider was much worse off for the whole experience than I and my son.
We discussed the situation over breakfast, noting that we all eat plenty of bugs and bug parts all the time, in blissful unawareness.
But seeing it is different.
Our minds are powerful. Our defense mechanisms are powerful. We have the capacity to contemplate our mortality, the vastness of the universe, the complexities of DNA, or the presence of bug parts in our food. But we also have the capacity to put those thoughts aside so that we can get things done and live our lives.
Sometimes something comes along that knocks us out of our blissful, practical-repression-of-stuff state and makes us face our mortality (or a spider). The mortality is always there. We ignore it. The spiders are always there. We ignore them.
Until one drops into our frying pan. At that point, we deal.
Sometimes it’s a little spider. Sometimes it’s a really big one. Sometimes it’s venomous. Sometimes it’s kinda cute. Sometimes we notice its magnificent web. Sometimes it scares the daylights out of us. Sometimes we just brush it away.
And, the vast majority of the time, the spider causes us no harm.
But worrying about the spiders, thinking about the spiders, can be paralyzing.
Some of us live where there are dangerous, potentially lethal spiders. In those areas, it’s wise to take precautions.
We should shake out boots that have been left outside or in the garage before we stick our feet into them.
But worrying about any potential spider in our house? Not practical. Not helpful. And if we’re too meticulous about removing every known spider, who’s going to eat the other bugs?
There’s always a balance. Always a weighing of the pros and cons, the risks and benefits.
The eggs were good. As was the coffee.
We didn’t look too closely in our cups.