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Editorial
Spider Season

 
Some Bedtime visitors really aren't welcome.
The announcement in my email inbox alarmed me: "You would make a great M to my S," it said.

Was this writer speaking of sadomasochism? The remainder of his note made it clear that he meant exactly that. A little research revealed that reversals commonly characterize the sado-masochistic impulse. Even more bizarre -- if I did not understand his message, he might not, either.

It took me a week to stop feeling cold chills when I thought of the writer's intent. I do not indulge in suffering and bondage for pleasure. In fact, I used to ponder the ethical ramifications of snuffing a spider that invaded my premises.

Last spring, indeed, that shortcoming led to an entire week of pain. I awoke one morning with a black THING adhered to my shoulder. The situation immediately became a modern parable of Little Ms. Muffet, on whom a creepy critter came calling too!

My physician assured me that spiders can manifest anger, just as people do. They also prefer soft and snuggly locations, like the pillow on my futon. When I rolled over on my unknown bed-partner, he taught me a lesson about vengeance: Never underestimate the determination of a creep to sink his teeth into YOU!

For about three days, paranoia ruled my life. The ceiling above my bed seemed a vast, open space with eight-legged paratroopers about to launch their military missions during my sleep. My eyes did not need toothpicks to keep them open. Memories of movies starring arachnids played during my fitful daydreams.

My physician had mentioned, too, that, if my assailant belonged to the Black Widow or Brown Recluse family, the bite could develop into an abscess and leave a permanent scar. Since I threw my assailant out in the trash -- as soon as I disconnected teeth from flesh -- no corpse survived for the medical examiner to identify. So my doctor just plunked me on antibiotics and sent me home.

Back to the scene of the crime, I searched under counters and peered into every corner, seeking cobwebs. My house managed to be unique in their absence. This guy made his descent without even leaving the usual rope to mark the scene. His relatives appeared to have disappeared as well. My eight-legged attacker ventured on a one-man mission and suffered martyrdom with no one to sing his epic. Well, I can rectify that omission right now.

After the red swelling disappeared, my existence returned to normal. I took no chances, though, that any eight-legged colleagues might view my house as their playground. I began using an appropriate environment-friendly spray to keep them and their kind away.

A friend recommended smashing any eight-legged intruders on sight. Apparently, she learned a different set of nursery rhymes at her mother's knee, one that included Daddy Long Legs. Once I learned about him, though, this eternal enemy of aphids and company permanently ensconced himself in my lexicon of heroes. No one can confuse my house with a rose garden, however; the cats alone sent most birds and pests flying long ago.

But we also must protect ourselves from attacks that land, unbidden, in our communication systems. The first line of defense remains the trusty blocker. Next comes information. The Internet offers whole bibliographies on S/M for the uninformed. Finally, new male friends can often be much better than old -- and sometimes, too mysterious -- ones. Don't you agree?

Epilogue: "M" stands for Meg. "S" stands for Spider (in my version, anyway).

Meg Curtis

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