“With great pleasure, I would like to welcome our newest addition to the family…¡Mira!”
There were no cries of joy, no warm embraces, only cold blank stares of horror at the Mason jar with circumspect air holes punched out of the lid.
“We can’t keep a black widow as a freakin pet. Have you gone off your meds?”
“Well, I can’t kill this beautiful specimen of nature. Plus it’s a great lesson for our son to have a pet. I’m rather non committal on a fish right now.”
“Where do you plan to keep this dangerous pet?”
“In the liquor cabinet, locked away and safely secured with our 2001 Millessime Rosé Brut. Besides, I can care for her there, as I’m often tending to the bottles.”
After losing that argument, I placed ¡Mira! in a more suitable corner in the garage. I suppose it was her natural surroundings that convinced me of the compromise.
“Mommy, what will we feed her? Candy?”
“No darling, ¡Mira! eats insects.”
“Wow mommy, I want to feed her!”
“No honey, only mommy feeds her, you can watch.”
With that, my husband reared his beta male head and pleaded for me to extricate this arachnid from our lives.
“Damn it, why do you have to keep a black widow as a pet?”
“Because I can relate to her.”
He was nonplussed by the veiled threat.
Hunger calls, so enthusiastically we ventured to the strip mall for lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant which coincidentally was next to an Aquatic pet store. What manufactured good fortune. After some Spring rolls and a bowl of soup, we paid the bill and I sauntered into the pet store.
There a sickly, gaunt eyed youth sat idly, waiting for a customer. His black concert T-shirt and skin tone were glowing under the black light of the latest aquatic technology. I wanted to offer him a Dorrito and multivitamin, but we were in a hurry.
“Excuse me sir, I have a pet Black Widow, what should we feed her?”
“Wow, that’s kinda cool, I guess. Well I suggest you feed her live baby crickets.”
After we acquired 5 hapless “crickettes” we rushed home. I studied up on Black Widow husbandry before attempting to feed the beast. After adequate study, I started the preparations. Well, here goes nothing!
I turned the glass mason jar upside down as she was netted quietly at the other end. Those baby crickets are quite vigorous so capturing one was a small feat. But after a couple escaped into the claws of our cat, we finally managed to toss one into the jar, close the lid and watch the show. Nothing really happened. Oh, well. Let’s go play some Minecraft and let nature take it’s course.
Hours later. Nothing but a spastic cricket and a static killer.
Hours later. There lie a dead cricket and a satisfied customer with swollen abdomen that pronounced her hourglass figure. Success!
Life with ¡Mira! was rather uneventful. The garage was dank, and inconvenient. I soon relocated her to more upscale living arrangements.
I checked on her daily as I dusted the liquor bottles, fed her weekly, and admired her deadly beauty. My husband and I never really discussed it, out of sight out of mind I suppose and he stopped drinking so he didn’t look in the liquor cabinet much.
Not much to report until a notice came home with my son.
“Mommy, it’s bring your pet to school day, I want to bring ¡Mira!”
“No, no, no, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Let’s bring FluffinStuff, or how about a picture of FluffinStuff as she’s not a good traveler or pleasant with children.”
Wailing tears of sorrow, frustration, anger, mommy spite ensued.
Faster than you could say “foster care system” I relented. My better judgement of course was swindled by my flawed rationale. Everything would be perfectly ok with adult supervision and a the flair for the natural sciences. Viewing creatures in the confines of a tightly lidded Mason jar is deriguer for children around the world! Why deprive these fancy brats accustomed to Labradoodles, ShuShuDoos and Cockapoos the simple pleasures of back yard arachnology?
With tears boiling on his corneas, I tilted my son’s head up and said “Let not share this with daddy.”
He hugged me so tight, I could barely fear the possibility of a child custody battle. But I’m getting ahead of myself.