Author’s note: Many people approach me and ask, “you know, Matthew, you write so beautifully about how to remove your own appendix and how to talk to Satan and how to grow human heads out of the earth…when are you going to write a children’s book?” Usually, I just laugh and laugh and laugh, because I don’t speak English, and I don’t know what they’re talking about. This little story, I believe, teaches children that having good friends and extraordinary luck is just as important as hard work or having a job. Enjoy!
Irwin was a spider. A very lazy spider.
While his friends Cassie, Carlos and Bud spun beautiful and intricate webs in the barn, Irwin just watched. He didn’t feel like spinning a web. His ankles hurt from playing foosball.
After awhile, however, Irwin started to get hungry. So he went to Cassie’s web.
“Hey! Is anybody going to eat this juvenile trichoptera?” he yelled. “Is it all right if I eat this? Can I eat this? Can I eat this thing? Hey, Cass–“
“–Yes, Irwin, just eat it!” cried Cassie, who was putting the finishing touches on her web.
Later, he went to Carlos’ web. The husk of a grasshopper was trapped in the silky fibers, its abdomen ripped open, its insides liquified by Carlos’ digestive enzymes.
Irwin looked inside the grasshopper husk. There were still a few puddles of gelatinous tissue.
“Hey, Carlos! He yelled. “Are you going to finish this? Can I have the rest of this? Are you saving this for later or something?”
“Just eat it, Irwin!” Carlos yelled back. He seemed annoyed.
“Whatever,” Irwin muttered, using the teeth on the basal segment of his chelicarae to mash some of the grasshopper’s spiracles into a soft paste.
Finally, he headed to Bud’s web. Just as he got there, a moth flew into the sticky threads. Sweet, Irwin thought, moths were his favorite!
“Hey, Bud! Can I have this moth? Can I have it, PLEASE? Hey, Bud, can I? I am starving!”
Bud suddenly appeared from the top of his web.
“No, Irwin, you can’t have my moth.”
“AWWWW!” Irwin cried. “C’mon! That’s not fair!”
“You have to learn to build your own web,” Bud said, calmly, in a deep and resonant voice that reminded everyone in the barn of Barry White. “You’re a spider. You have to learn to take care of yourself.”
That evening, Bud showed Irwin how to build a web. He showed him how to secrete silk from his major ampullate glands and through his tapering duct (“aw, gross!” Irwin said). He showed him how to attach one end of the silk to a wall, using a tiny hammer and ring shank nails.
He even showed him a nice location in the barn, right across from Cassie, where there were lots of juicy insects!
That night, Cassie looked over at Irwin, who was sitting on the wall next to his web.
“Well,” she said, “when are you going to finish it?”
“It IS finished,” said Irwin.
“But it’s just one string hanging from the ceiling with two little angled pieces on the top,” said Cassie. “You’ll never catch anything in that!”
“My ankles hurt,” Irwin sighed.
Cassie shook her head. “You are the laziest spider I know.”
In the morning, Cassie woke up and was very pleased to discover that she had caught a big, fat Junebug and a fig wasp!
She then looked over at Irwin’s web and couldn’t believe her eyes.
“What is that?” she yelled.
“It’s a pizza,” Irwin yelled back. “Deep dish Chicago style. My favorite!”
“But spiders don’t eat pizza!” Cassie cried.
“Speak for yourself,” said Irwin, warm marinara sauce running into his chin beard.
The next night, Irwin built a web close to Carlos’ corner of the barn. He worked on it for hours, spinning the most beautiful and intricate web he’d ever spun. Finally, it was finished.
“Is that it?” Carlos asked.
Irwin shrugged. “Um…yes,” he said. “Yes it is.”
The next morning, Carlos was excited to see that he had caught a mosquito and a walking stick. And, the walking stick was wearing a brand new pair of LL Bean walking shorts! Carlos could definitely sell those on eBay.
He looked over at Irwin’s web.
“Whatthe –” he choked. “Irwin! What is that?”
“I think it’s the little Peterson boy,” Irwin said.
“But spiders don’t eat people!” Carlos shrieked.
“Why not? They’re delicious,” Irwin said, spewing digestive enzymes all over the Peterson boy’s shoulder muscle.