This was originally posted to a mailing list in 6/17/04. The original was thought to be lost (a bunch of my friends and I all looked for it in our email archives), but versions of it showed up on some message boards since. A couple of weeks ago I found some what I thought were long lost email archives and found it. Here it is in its original form with a few minor edits for readability:
Last night Jill, a friend of mine who is really creeped out by spiders stopped by and by coincidence when she was about to leave there was a spider about 3" across hunting on the top stoop in front of my front door. I went after it but it ran off.
If any of my neighbors saw what happened later they probably thought I lost it.
After Jill left it was back on the steps, same spot, taunting me, insulting me, laughing at me.
I'm not sure spider could see me but it was reacting to my shadow being cast by the lights on either side of the front door, running over the side of the concrete landing every time I blocked the light. I kept trying to get the thing but it was FAST. I even had the million candlepower spot light out, you know, the one that everyone keeps by the front door in case you need to flag down a low flying aircraft, to make sure that I could follow it over the side of the steps.
After a few minutes of this my feeble little brain came up with a bright idea "hey, carb cleaner kills most bugs” (they breath through their "skin" and the stuff coats them and suffocates them. Even if you don't get them well enough usually it will kill them later on). Spiders are bugs, well, sort of bugs, well not really, they aren't bugs, but it should work, right?
Well, what is one step better? Think like a Mark, this is easy, or think like a great big retarded monkey. Either will get you to the same place.
BURNING carb cleaner... huh, problem… I can't hold the million candle power light if I've got a lighter in one hand and can of liquid death in the second. I won’t really be able to see the thing as it hides over the side of the steps. But wait, no problem. If I light the carb cleaner I'll see the pesky beast, right?
Ahh, I love it when a plan comes together.…
Obviously, this kind of reasoning has put me among the great thinkers of our times. I have all my problems solved: this is the pure, glowing, brilliant fireball of genius. I grabbed the BIG can of B12 Chemtool (think super, extra heavy duty carb cleaner, it even has the word “super” on the label, you know that makes it better, if only the big can also had the word magnum on it all would be right with the world).
Well, I got up on the steps, looking down I thought I could see the shadow of a lump that was the spider on the side of the landing, and knowing from previous empirical data based on YEARS of CAREFUL testing that carb cleaner will shoot a 4-5' jet of flame… I took careful aim from a safe (always remember, safety first) distance back where the SPIDER couldn't hurt me, well not easily.
I lit the lighter... steadied my aim… and hit the nozzle…
At that instant I learned, I absolutely understood, exactly what was SUPER HEAVY DUTY about this B12 stuff. Instead of the normal and quite effective 4 foot jet of flames that carb cleaner gives you I got about an 8' long, 3' wide cone of flame which stuck to everything in it's path setting it on fire.
When this moment of sublime enlightenment happened I was standing with the thing at about shoulder level on the top step and the first thing I noticed was the wet ground around the bushes was on fire.
I was so surprised that I didn't even see if I actually got the spider.
Crap. I need light, is the thing still alive? IT MIGHT BE STILL ALIVE, AND PISSED OFF... SHIT... I instinctively pull the trigger again... wait, dumb idea, that is what got me into this mess.
Too late... instinct and training took over. My fingers, being the efficient killing machines that they are overrode every reasonable thought that I ever had in my little walnut of a brain. FIRE! That sucker was going to roast.
Burn in hell!!!
At that point it all caught up to me. I can't do this, not in the front yard, this just isn't smart.
(I actually ran this around in my head from a few different angles trying to figure out how to make it smart, in the mean time the flames were getting bigger, I was still spraying burning death all over the front yard)
I finally let go of the trigger... boxwoods... on fire. Front steps... they look like the entrance to hell, there were flames shooing up and framing every landing... wait, my wife’s cute little raccoon boot scraper/mud brush things on the steps, I HAVE TO SAVE THEM! I try put them out with my feet... um, now that's a real problem... that actually made them worse since my shoes are on fire.
After what was probably a minute of doing what probably looked like the funky chicken with flames shooting from my toes I finally got most of the flames extinguished. The raccoons somehow kept bursting into flames which was impressive considering it was raining and they were soaked. When I finally got them out they were scattered in little bits around the steps. Upside down. Dead.
There was smoke everywhere. It looked like the aftermath scene in a war movie where they show the ruins of a town after getting firebombed, nothing but rubble, ashes and smoke.
Crap, the neighbors! I ran inside turned out the lights. Lets pretend that didn't happen.
Do you think I got the spider?