When Boyfriend’s alarm went off at 5.30 this morning he had the strange and probably infuriating task of persuading me to go back to bed. As he rubbed the sleep from his bleary eyes, munched unenthusiastically on a piece of peanut butter toast, and prepared himself for a long day interning I was wide awake and practically bouncing up and down with glee – Texas state senator Wendy Davis was still standing.
In order to block anti-abortion legislature which would, among other things, reduce the number of abortion clinics in Texas – a state the size of France – down to just five, 50 year old Democratic senator Davis had conducted a marathon filibuster wearing a look of grim determination and a pair of pink trainers. For any Brits who aren’t up to scratch on their filibuster etiquette, to delay the final vote on the bill Wendy was required to speak solidly and on topic until the stroke of midnight, at which point the session for the bill, SB5, would expire. When she started speaking, midnight was thirteen hours away. As if that wasn’t a daunting enough task, she also wasn’t allowed to sit, lean, or leave the floor. In other words: she couldn’t eat, and she most definitely couldn’t wee. She was, quite literally, standing up for women’s rights.
And my new heroine stood up for Texan women for long enough: the vote did not take place before midnight and the bill expired. Wendy did not falter, and she did not, as many of us would have done in her place, wet herself. So when I woke up for the second time at a far more reasonable hour, it was shaping up to be a good day for feminism. Sadly, the warm fuzzy feeling of female solidarity did not last for long.
As I was sunbathing with one of my best and oldest friends on her trampoline, my top rolled up to attempt to lessen the luminosity of my stomach, something tickled me. I lifted my head, expecting to see a fly, and instead saw a seriously large spider. Sat on my tummy. A spider. On my tummy.
I am fine with snakes, like rats, recently locked myself in Boyfriend’s bathroom to catch an errant blue tit, and removed a dead jackdaw from Boyfriend’s living room. In other words, I am kickass. Or at the very least, slightly more brave than Boyfriend when it comes to birds or sizable dead things. Spiders though. Eight-legged, scuttling, web-spinning, dangling, scurrying, horrible spiders. When it comes to spiders, I am too much of a wimp to get near the eight-legged offender with a glass, let alone put a piece of paper under it and actually pick it up. So seeing that spider sat bold as brass on my poor pale tummy triggered a ‘flight’ as opposed to ‘fight’ response so powerful that, unable to run, I was merely able to freeze and say in a deceptively calm voice, “Niki, I need your help with something.”
At this point I expect that you’re expecting Niki to be my knight in shining armour. Well, not quite. She took one look at the monster and leapt to her feet, screaming for her younger brother. Female solidarity, schmolidarity. Meanwhile, I have attempted to flick the horrible thing off me, stood up, and realised that I have only succeeded in moving the spider to my back rather than my front. To make matters worse, I also realise that Niki’s sudden movement had spilled the water which collects around the edges of the trampoline, and my jeans are now soaking wet. There is a puddle underneath me. It looks like I have wet myself. (I 100% did not wet myself, but it sure as hell looked like I did.) And Niki is demanding in a voice so high that it is verging on becoming only audible to dogs that her younger brother finds this spider, which is either up my top or in my jeans. My face was apparently completely blank. Niki’s younger brother Michael probably looked far more terrified than I did. “I was kinda just asking him to feel you up wasn’t I?” she said afterwards. Yes, Niki. Yes you were.
I was standing up, but I was not by any means standing up for myself, or for womenkind. I was pretty much just upholding the stereotype of women being a bit useless, not to mention content to let men get in their clothes when scared. Had Michael not been there I would have been naked before Niki had even started screaming. But as Michael was indeed present, and there was quite enough screaming going on already, all I could do was stand there. With soaking wet jeans. And a spider in my top.
This tale thankfully has a PG ending: Michael flicked the spider off my back, I borrowed a pair of Niki’s shorts, and spent the next half an hour laughing hysterically to the point where I was kind of just crying. Sure, I had to walk home later in a pair of wet jeans and without my dignity, looking for all the world as though I had wet myself. Sure, I had failed to be a strong independent woman. Sure, I did have to strip down to my underwear to double check that the spider was gone, multiple times. But, erm. Erm. Nobody actually wet themselves today. That is the only silver lining.
I am ashamed of myself. The end.