There is a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Natural History Museum in New York City called Spiders Alive! While I am excited to see the creepy crawlies they will have, it is a little less thrilling now that I have come face to face with some disturbing specimens in upstate New York. On Monday night, I was about to walk down the stairs of the house we rented when I felt like I was being watched. I looked down. Sitting on the ledge by the staircase was an enormous spider (maybe half the size of my palm) with stripes.

"Oh shit!" I yelled. "You have to see this!" Unfortunately, I then emitted a cloud of dangerous toxic gas. (let's just say I've been indulging in a lot of rich foods while away.)

This would have been fine if it had killed the spider, as it should have because I cannot understand how something so tiny could withstand that level of fumes. This just shows how scary the spider was. The other problem was that I had summoned others to witness the spider, and therefore my friend walked into the gas cloud.

"What is that?" he said and coughed, referring to the horrendous smell, not the frightening spider.

"Sorry," I said.

Then he noticed the spider and shrunk back a second time. We decided that the best course of action was to kill it with a very large flyswatter with a long handle. I slapped at it, but it jumped off the ledge and ran down the stairs. We screamed. My friend down the stairs, through the kitchen, and outside. I was left to contend with the monster alone. I am sure by then that it had armed itself with a little pistol and threatened to cap me. But that could be my imagination.

I chased it around the kitchen (it cleverly stuck to corners that the flyswatter couldn't reach well), and finally beat it to death. For good measure, I scooped it up in a paper towel and crushed it. To be honest, I hate killing spiders since they get rid of so many evil bugs, but this one was too much. My cousin wisely pointed out that a bite from that thing in the night would be really bad. (She also, before seeing it, yelled at me to stomp on it with my shoe. Then when it an to the kitchen and she saw its size, she realize the folly of this advice.)

Not long after that, we realized that mice had torn into a package of bread. We double bagged the rest of the vittles. A day later, we found a gray mouse scurrying around the kitchen. Nothing else seemed eaten, so we shrugged. "It's the country - what're ya gonna do?"

Last night the mouse and his/her friends provoked us into drastic action. I walked in the kitchen, and it was running along the shelves. Fine. Then I looked at a chair. Turds. Little fucker. This morning, more poop on another chair. Dammit mouse. You eat my food and I look the other way. They way to repay my kindness is therefore not to shit on my furniture.

So it was not without a sense of poetic justice that I noticed the headless mouse corpse on the brick path leading to the driveway. Really, it wasn't even headless. It was sort of a back leg and tail, with some side. "That is what happens when you spit in my face, asshole," I muttered as I scooped it up with a slotted spoon and dumped it in a remote patch of trees and high grass.

The slotted spoon? I threw that out, although I was tempted to leave it out as a reminder that no good comes to creatures that fuck with me.