The international guests I host through Airbnb are hardly in the door, when they ask about spiders.
“Not to worry, the spiders in the house are harmless, you have to really go looking for dangerous ones!”
They are not easily convinced.
And then one time...
Moments after I had shown one guest her room, she arrived screaming in the kitchen and threw herself into my arms.
"A spider, a spider, above my bed!"
IKEA should really not sell lamps like this in Australia:
Guests ask difficult questions
Although I'm reassuring, the conversation complicates if guests follow up by asking if I have ever found a dangerous spider in the house.
“Well yes, once, but a long while ago ...”
Their eyes widen, “IN THE HOUSE?”
“Yes, but it was before we put in flyscreens and got brushy things on the bottom of the doors.”
This confirms their worst fears – the spiders are OUT THERE, battering to get in
They immediately want to know more. “What kind of spider? What did you do?”
“Well it was a funnel-web. I released it in Lane Cove National Park.”
What I don’t tell them is that I confiscated it from a guest who was a biology student. He'd put it in a jar and wanted to keep it as a pet. When he cooked, the jar sat on the kitchen bench. Other brave guests would shake the jar to see if it was true funnel-webs jumped. But when he told me he let it out for runs, I’d had enough.
Neither do I tell them that I didn’t drop it at the nearest entrance to the Park but took it far away as I was terrified it might have some kind of homing instinct.
That’s why I prefer hosting graduates. They are past keeping things in jam-jars.
Take aim, fire!
“You didn’t kill it?” is the next question from my newest guest. It is especially Australian men that want it dead. And they repeat, "Really, you didn't kill it?"
Last week my daughter Emily listened to my spider spiel
She watched the expressions on the faces of my guests as I moved into the convoluted story about the single funnel web ever known to have crossed the doorstep.
Afterwards, she took me aside and said, “Mum too much information.”
“But I can’t lie!” I say... “I have to tell them when they ask if I’ve ever had a dangerous spider in the house.”
“But Mum, it was over five years ago.”
“But it still happened.”
There was a pause while Emily, who is very practical and solution focused, thought about my predicament.
“Mum, think of it like demerit points - spider sightings drop off after five years.”
AND IF YOU REALLY MUST KNOW MORE:
Don’t mess with spiders with your bare hands
Don’t leave your soggy towels on the floor
Don’t walk around outside at night in bare feet
Don’t touch spiders in the kids paddling pool – funnel-webs just look drowned
Don’t go poking around in my garden without gloves on
And if you find one, call Emily