There has been a lot of talk lately about dangers of driving while text messaging. Mobile phones must be hands-free. Even iPods and other techno gadgetry are off limits. I can think of a driving impairment far more dangerous than any of them. Spiders.

It takes only a hot day with my window slightly ajar, and spiders swing over and slide on in. I bet they pretend to test drive my station-wag­on, make vroom-vroom sounds, turn on the radio and call in buddies. Then they munch on the crumbs of TimBits and Gold Fish crackers in the back seat. For a hoot, they put their bulging eyes behind my sunglasses, too.

I learned quickly that moms have to act cool, calm and collected around creepy crawlies. A child’s future depends on it. If you scream like a banshee, they learn irrational fears. So I worked at reducing my anxiety. I adopted the child-like wonder approach. I even accepted Buddhist philosophy to be one with bugs and stopped smacking them.

Now I carefully capture and transport spiders outside. I tell my kids spiders need to know their boundaries, because we need spiders to help the stupid house flies figure out theirs. There is peace in sharing our home.

But, I did not say we could share my car. Is nothing off-limits for these web-designing freaks? Yesterday I was driving along, singing my heart out with the radio when along walks a spider, across the interior of my windshield. As if intentionally, he stopped smack dab in the middle of my view. I did not panic. I instructed the brown legged thing to move along, as I kept my car evenly between the yellow lines. I remained calm. The spider sped toward my rear view mirror, scur­ried down the windshield, ran along the bottom and, in record time, was directly in my line of vision again. Seems he was building a web.

I drove straight on with even speed. Spider was not going to cause an accident. Composure intact, I continued to sing, eyes focused on the road. I would deal with Spider later. Safety first.

I’m not sure how it happened, but Spider disappeared. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the panic started. My imagination is cruel. Suddenly, every wisp of hair on my neck felt alive. Every piece of loose thread on my skirt too. Spider could be anywhere. If he fell, he’d be in my lap. I looked down. Of all the days to wear a short, summer skirt.

The car started to weave as I shifted in my seat, frantically smacking my legs, my arms, stamping my free foot. I am proud to say I never crossed the median or anything drastic, but I confess my gas pedal went down ever so slightly. Fortunately, it was not enough to go over the speed limit, because in that exact moment I passed a radar trap. Imagine that dialogue exchange:

“Officer, I didn’t mean to speed, but there is a spider in my, um, skirt, and uh, I am certain that I need to jump out of this car and do a very odd dance for just a moment, if you don’t mind.”

I am happy to report that Spider was camouflaged by the oil change reminder sticker in the top corner of my windshield. We parted company in a peaceful manner when I re-introduced him to the great outdoors at 80km/hour. Ick.

Kelly Waterhouse