Not a bad idea. So I thought about it and at first I came up with nothing. And then I saw the name Ray, and that gave me an idea … a story about a spider.
Don’t panic, I’m not going to tell you some frightening story. Quite the contrary, I’m going to tell you a funny story.
A funny story about a spider? I can imagine you have your doubts. The words spider and funny don’t exactly fit each other. And you’re right, I’m the first one to agree … spiders are a lot of things, but funny they are not.
Personally I’m terrified of the ugly creatures, but I’m also fascinated by them. So let someone mention the word spider and I’m all ears. And this is where Ray comes in. Ray told me a funny story about a spider. Not just any spider either, a tarantula.
If you have doubts about the authenticity of the story, I can tell you right now, it’s not a lie. Ray was a reverend and in all the years I knew him, I never caught him in a lie, big or small. So here it goes …
It happened a long time ago when Ray was still a boy in a school in Barberton (South Africa). He was on his way home, on a particularly hot day in December, walking a dusty road, flanked by fields of corn.
At one point, he got the distinct impression that he was being followed; but, when he looked over his shoulder there was nobody there. He walked a few meters more and looked back again, but no, he was all alone. Or so he thought.
After yet another couple of feet, he turned around again, but this time he looked down and saw that an enormous tarantula was about five feet away from him. Ray took off like an Olympic sprinter, despite the heat and the poor condition of the road.
When he looked behind him, hopeful to be as far away from the spider as possible, he noticed to his surprise that the eight-legged monster was following him, sprinting with all its might. Ray recalled running even harder, panting, and praying for help. (Even back then he was very religious) and he fully expected help.
When no help came and Ray’s heart, lungs, and legs could no longer keep up the tempo, he knew had to slow down. But he did not want to slow down. He had to get away from that brown haired spider that was still following him!
Eventually, he had no choice. The temperature must have been a scalding 43 degrees C (110 degrees F), and his body was giving out. Expecting that the tarantula would be upon him within seconds, he looked back and noticed that the tarantula had slowed down too. Weird he thought, and he slowed down his pace even more and the tarantula did the same. Finally, Ray came to a dead stop and so did the spider.
Ray stood there, looking at the beast, completely puzzled. When he had rested a bit, he moved forward. As he moved, so did the spider. Ray was not in the habit of swearing, but he admitted thinking at the time “Well I’ll be damned.” When he increased his pace, the spider again mimicked his movement.
Eventually a couple of trees came into view, and thankful for the cool of the shade, Ray decided to take a break. He was no longer scared of the spider, as it seemed to mean him no harm; but, he was rather fed up with it. He did not seem to be able to get rid of the hairy beast.
It was no surprise to him that when he got to the trees and stopped, so did the spider.
But this time, when he moved further down under the trees, the tarantula remained where it was. Ray moved further and further, but still the tarantula did not move. After a while, Ray went on his way, and the spider stayed behind.
When he got home and told his family about the spider, his mother nodded with understanding.
“You seem to know why the spider was following me,” Ray commented.
“Of course I do,” his mother said. “The tarantula was hot and was walking in your shadow to stay cool. You said so yourself that as soon as you got to the trees, the spider didn’t follow you anymore.”
It made perfect sense. The tarantula had walked in Ray’s shadow the whole time and had increased its pace when he increased his pace and had slowed down when he had slowed down. As soon as they had reached the trees it found another source of shade and did not need him anymore.
Ray did not like spiders, but he had to admit, it was a rather ingenious trick and proved that they were much smarter creatures than he had previously thought. Ray also used this story as a spiritual lesson. People too often want to think the worst of others, especially if their appearance is different. We suspect negative intentions when there really aren’t any intended.