Wednesday, August 17, 2005


From Snopes: Claim: The average person swallows eight spiders per year. Status: False. Origins: Oh, yuk! It's hard enough to avoid those horrible wriggly things while we're awake, and now we have to worry that they're crawling into our mouths while we sleep? Little Miss Muffett was a piker. Fear not. This "statistic" was not only made up out of whole cloth, it was invented as an example of the absurd things people will believe simply because they come across them on the Internet. In a 1993 PC Professional article, columnist Lisa Holst wrote about the ubiquitous lists of "facts" that were circulating via e-mail and how readily they were accepted as truthful by gullible recipients. To demonstrate her point, Holst offered her own made-up list of equally ridiculous "facts," among which was the statistic cited above about the average person's swallowing eight spiders per year, which she took from a collection of common misbeliefs printed in a 1954 book on insect folklore. In a delicious irony, Holst's propagation of this false "fact" has spurred it into becoming one of the most widely-circulated bits of misinformation to be found on the Internet. WELL, I, BARONESS VON SLOTHENSTEIN, HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT. The other night I'm in bed reading with the New Guy (who, by the way, is not exactly shining with the same luster he had when I drove him off the lot. Don't get me wrong! I love him, but we're coming up on 3 months now. "New" is a bit of a stretch. One more month and he has GOT to get a new nickname...). He's into the Potter book and I'm reading "The Lost World" by Arthur Conan Doyle. Well, New Guy generally gets sucker punched (wham! pow!) by his literary material after about 2 pages and then he's down for the night. I, on the other hand, can read for hours and hours and hours - as long as I am SUPPOSED to be sleeping. If I'm supposed to be reading, I instantly fall asleep. I'm just naturally contrary. So, New Guy is down for the count and I'm following the exploits of the intrepid Professor Challenger and Mr. Malone as they ignore all Star Trek protocol and slaughter a bunch of ape-people with rifles which I can't say is exactly a fair fight (I mean, come on, dude. They're monkeys.), when I look down to see an enormous green spider CRAWLING ON MY LAP. I freeze and the fucking thing looks right at me and goes, "In case you were wondering, yes, I'm headed for your mouth." Needless to say, much havoc ensued. I can't say that it was as bad as the time that a huge brown spider dove down my sleeve and into my shirt when I accidentally disturbed its writhing nest of eggs that was HANGING OVER MY BED, moments away from ejecting millions of baby spiders into my pajamas, but it was still bad. There was the leaping and the book-throwing and the yelping and the running from the room and the heart exploding out of my chest like a baby alien and whatnot. To my credit, I did come back and kill it. Oh, pipe down, people! A spider on the wall is one thing. A spider IN BED WITH YOU is something else entirely. New guy slept through the whole thing. After I calmed down I read a little more, back against the wall, pillow behind me. Finally, I put the book away and scooched down, pulling the pillow under my head. It was only then that I realized that MY FACE WAS NOW IN THE EXACT SPOT WHERE THE SPIDER HAD BEEN CRAWLING. Fuck you, Snopes.