*Disclaimer: If you’re super duper terrified of spiders I wouldn’t read this.*
For this post, I’m going to do something a little different and tell you a story. Which, if you didn’t guess by the title and disclaimer, is about a spider named Frank. He has been living in our basement since early 2016. Or, at least that’s when he and I first made eye contact. For all I know Frank lived here long before I came along or since the beginning of time. I’m not sure honestly. Now, I should let you know I have zero clue what type of spider Frank is. I have very little spider knowledge and I don’t dare get close enough to take a decent photo. The basement only has extremely low lighting and I don’t want to find out what he is badly enough to enter his personal space. But I have painted a pretty accurate picture (may or may not have been influenced a little by fear) of Frank.
That’s Frank. I will also include some photos of spiders throughout the story to give you a sense of what he looks like as well. But you get the gist. He’s large, hairy and can stare deep into your soul. I’ll set the scene a little now and tell you about the first time I met Frank.
I hate doing laundry. It makes me angry to the core of my being. So you can imagine how thrilled I was lugging clothes up and down the basement stairs for an entire Saturday while my husband (then fiancé) Sam fiddled with some electronic stuff. I was sweaty, agitated and generally glum and it was in this bad state that I came across Frank.
It was as I was bringing dirty clothes down into the basement. Our basement stairs don’t have railings and they come into the middle of the basement so you can see either side while standing on the stairs. I turned on the lights and started carefully pushing the large smelly bag down when I looked over and saw him. He was sitting between me and the pathway to the washer. When I reached about the middle of the staircase he turned around to look at me. We made eye contact.
Yes, eye contact, because that’s how large Frank is.
The first thing I noticed was he seemed to have way more eyes than necessary for a spider and they were huge. I could tell he was looking at me by the way his eyes glinted in the dim light and he tipped his head to one side as if I had rudely sneaked up on him. Then I began to take in the sheer mass of Frank. I’ve only encountered large spiders in exhibits where I was protected by several inches of glass. If you had asked if I was scared of spiders a few years ago, I would have laughed and said no.
But that was before a spider the size of my palm was staring at me in my own home.
Frank’s brown body is easily several inches wide and even longer, and this is all without taking into account his long thin legs. Both his body and legs are partially covered in thick black hair. I could see all these details since he sat so still while I was nearly ready to scream. Only I wasn’t sure if loud noises would set him off. I had no way of knowing if those long legs could jump from the floor to me (I’m pretty sure they can).
I did what any rationale person would do. I push my laundry off the opposite side of the stairs so I could slowly back away. I didn’t even dare breathe in case that would upset him.
During this careful retreat of mine, Frank waved.
He did not wave with one of his legs either, but rather with what I can only describe as spider arms with points on the end which sit on either side of his fangs. It stopped me for a second, until he started to move towards the stairs. At this point I sprinted/fell backwards out the door and slammed it shut behind me.
When I felt almost safe (it’s hard to feel 100% safe after this sort of encounter) I immediately tracked down my husband. I knew I had to calm myself though or he wouldn’t go down there to handle Frank.
“Sam,” I said in practically a whisper, “there’s a spider I’d like you to remove from the basement. You’re going to need a piece of paper and large cup.”
He glanced up at me from his seat at the kitchen counter and I knew he wasn’t quite listening or he might have noticed my slightly labored breathing.
“You don’t want me to just kill it?” I wanted to answer yes, but a large part of me was terrified Frank would win that battle.
“Nope, just take him outside please, into the woods. Far away from the house.”
Sam, being the wonderful husband he is, grabbed his supplies and went into the basement without asking any further questions. I felt a little guilty for not warning him about Frank, but I was admittedly still bitter about the laundry.
I waited by the door for him to come out, but it was a few minutes before I heard anything. When he opened the door I jumped back, only he didn’t have anything in the cup.
“Are you talking about the massive fucking spider sitting on the floor?”
I nodded my head yes.
“Okay, because he’s looking at me and waving his front leg things.”
“Spider arms.” I replied, even though that wasn’t really the point.
Sam took a deep breath and walked past me into the kitchen. He grabbed a large tupperware container.
“He’s not going to fit in that cup.”
Those were the last words I thought Sam would ever say to me.
When Sam went back down into Frank’s lair, I said a small prayer because I wasn’t sure there was much else I could do for him. I stayed nearby and heard a small scuffling sound right before the door was kicked open.
“GET THE DOORS!”
I didn’t turn around to look. I was terrified Frank was attacking Sam somehow and might take his anger out on me next. So I ran to the double doors in the back of the house and watched as Sam darted outside and towards the woods. I shut the doors right behind him and watched, safely, from behind several inches of glass which is my preference with large spiders.
I saw Sam throw the entire contraption in his hands onto the ground and speed walk back towards me.
When he came inside I gave him a gigantic hug and smothering kisses as if he had rescued me from a burning building.
“I’m so glad Frank didn’t kill you.” I said through happy tears.
“Frank? You named it?”
It’s true that while my dear husband removed a massive, possibly aggressive spider, from our house I debated on names. I settled for Frank after the Danny DeVito character from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I based this decision on them both acting aggressive and being gross (plus, I was binge watching the show on Netflix).
We didn’t talk about Frank again for awhile. It was one of those incidents you don’t like to relive. But that was not the last time we’d see Frank. If you remember, at the very beginning I said this was a story about a spider who lives in my basement, present tense, as in currently is there.
A few weeks after Sam removed Frank from the basement we started to see these large carpenter ants showing up. They were all over the house and extremely annoying as they tried to chew their way through anything made of wood. We were worried they were going to destroy the foundation since they were most abundantly in the basement and gathering around baseboards.
But before the exterminator made it out, they were suddenly gone as quickly as they came.
We searched the upstairs for any signs and saw nothing. The basement was empty as well so we assumed they had just moved on. An inspection of the house revealed they left no damage behind so we thanked our stars and moved on.
Then, one day, as I was cleaning out the shelves in the basement I came across what I can only describe as massive carpenter ant massacre. There was an old rug which I was pulling out to shake, only to find it was covered in hundreds (possibly thousands) of carcasses. I instantly dropped it and brushed shriveled up ants off my arms and body. Upon closer inspection I realized these were definitely the same ants that had been around the house weeks before. I couldn’t understand how on earth they had gathered into one place and died, when I looked up and it happened again.
Sitting on the shelf, behind where the rug had been, was Frank.
And we made eye contact.
People will say there’s no way I could know this was the same spider, but I do.
He titled his head like before and I saw him wave those scary little spider arms again. Only this time, I wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, Frank terrifies me. On the other, he saved me thousands of dollars in extermination fees and home repair. I backed away as I had the first time, quickly but quietly and retreated to the upstairs. When Sam came home I told him about the unmarked ant grave and Frank, sitting causally behind his handy work, probably storing away more dead bodies.
We sat in silence for a moment, but both knew what the right thing to do was.
“Frank has to stay.”
I said this to Sam, who nodded in agreement, and from that moment on Frank has lived undisturbed in the basement. We still have to do laundry down there and occasionally we’ll see him climbing on stuff or dragging dead bugs around. This spring we had a temporary sugar ant infestation. Then I found Frank standing over a large pile of their bodies, including a few with wings. He did his usual head tilt and wave before sauntering off into the dark corners of the basement.
I don’t know what type of spider Frank is, how long he’ll live or if he is even an he, but he’s taught me something important: the value of a human life.
Because if we were ants he would’ve murdered us all.