(Fair warning: if you have any level of arachnophobia you may want to skip this one.  Spiders are a central theme.  BIG spiders.)

I was sitting on the couch one day this week when a shriek came from the kitchen.

My head whipped around to see Bear slipping back out of the room.  Clearly I’d found the source of the shriek; finding the cause didn’t take very long at all.

Bear announced that we should watch out because there was a really creepy spider on the napkins (thus the shriek).  T-man wandered in there and agreed, the spider was creepy.

So I turned around to check it out from the couch.

Why wasn’t I leaping into action, you ask?  Because BrightSide was sitting in the armchair next to me. I could argue that he was marginally closer to the kitchen table, but the truth is that I figured this one landed squarely in his territory.  If there’s no BrightSide around I’ll totally tackle the bug/insect/spider issue, but if the big guy’s here I don’t hesitate to hand that one off.

I looked at the table and could just barely see a black shape perched on the edge of the napkins in the holder.  From where I was sitting it was maybe half the size of a dime.  Not exactly killer spider size; definitely not shriek-worthy.  T-man insisted it wasn’t the size that made it creepy but that it had, “like, a thousand eyes, or something, and they’re all staring at you.”  Uh-huh.

I haven’t always been this casual about spiders.  They used to be kind of a big deal for me.  But that was before I saw the spiders at the lake.

There. Are. No. Words.

I turned to ask BrightSide if he knew what kind of spiders they are so I could google it.  He paused for a fraction of a second, looked me in the eye, and said “BIG.”

Yup.  Can’t argue with that.  I might clarify with “BIG ASS SPIDER,” but you get the gist.

It was one summer day a few years back that I discovered a delightful surprise when I walked into the dock house to get a drink from the fridge.  My eyes were still adjusting from bright sunlight to gloomy interior when I caught movement in my peripheral vision; I glanced down to spot a spider the size of my fist skittering past me on the dock.  Where I was standing.  Barefoot.

Well, if you can call it “standing” once a person jumps back and begins hopping foot to foot while frantically scanning for any more mutant arachnids.

Now that spider was shriek-worthy.

Google Search to the rescue.  BrightSide is pretty sure it’s the dark fishing spider, due to its appearance and the fact that the lake house is surrounded by woods (the spider’s habitat, despite its name).  I’m troubled by the fact that supposedly the species is typically found “far from water” which, I think we can all agree, doesn’t jibe with the lake.  Plus I don’t remember it being all spotted like this.  Though a) it was dark, and b) I was kind of freaking out at the time.

As for me, I’m leaning more toward the wolf spider.  Also an incredibly creepy looking spider, this one can be found in both coastal and inland habitats.  It’s got that brown and black coloring that would be so helpful as camouflage on, say, a wood dock.  In a slightly more disturbing vein, wolf spiders will inject you with venom if “continually provoked” (hey, dude, I was just trying to get a beer), resulting in nonlethal but nonetheless uncomfortable side effects.

Now, spiders.us gets all technical-like in saying dark fishing spiders are frequently mistaken for wolf spiders, but that there are two major differences.  Their eyes are arranged very differently, and apparently the fishing spiders are more likely to be seen in the vertical plane while wolf spiders are usually horizontal, such as on the ground or in logs.  This might be helpful information if I’d had my wits about me enough to inspect the critter’s eye placement but, well, I was a little busy skittering away.  So it looks like this particular mystery will never be solved.

I guess that means we’ll go back to just calling it a BIG ASS SPIDER.

So you can see why an itty-bitty black critter hanging out on our napkins wasn’t too alarming.

As BrightSide pointed out, I guess everything’s relative.  Once you’ve seen an insanely mutant spider, the rest seem pretty manageable by comparison…