I wasn’t going to hold this spider at the butterfly pavillion today. As soon as I saw the man in the butterfly t-shirt and thumb-bandage handing out stickers that said “I held Rosie,” I told my husband I wasn’t going to do it. He did it. He said it was fun! You should do it, Sarah! It’s cool! Overcome your fear! Then a few dozen kids went ahead of me. Sat on the little stools in front of the spider-wrangler. Asked their arachnid trivia questions. Let Rosie crawl on them or sit in their hands. Got their “I held Rosie” stickers. I came close to doing it, but just couldn’t.
I took a few more laps around the bug exhibit room (I think they called it the Crawl-O-See-Em) before returning to Rosie’s corner. The spider-wrangler, in kahoots with my husband, really wanted me to hold her. At least let her crawl on me, just on my fingers. I was assured that Rosie wouldn’t bite me. That the spider-wrangler felt safer picking these things up from the Costa Rican jungle floor than he did petting cocker spaniels (which, according to him, are the #1 biting dogs in the country. Who knew?).
Rosie is only 2 or 3 years old. She’s new at being manhandled by visitors all day, but she’s calm. I wasn’t afraid of getting bitten or anything, I just didn’t like the creepy crawly factor. Like, eww. But then the spider-wrangler pulled the writer card on me: “Kurt Vonnegut,” he said, “says to do something that scares you every day.” Which of course got me. I mean, it took a few tries of me holding out my arm and yanking it back, but finally I did it. It was over really quickly. And it was kind of cool. Totally not scary and totally not too creepy-crawly. Not what I expected at all – it actually felt like little tiny dog paws.
I was all pleased with myself and ready to thank Kurt Vonnegut in tonight’s post. Unfortunately, when I tried to look up the quote, I discovered that it came from Mary Schmich, a journalist for the Chicago Tribune who wrote a fake commencement speach for the class of 1997, including the comment about doing something every day that scares you. The entire speech, called Wear Sunscreen, was misattributed to Vonnegut (and later made into a song, I think). Some urban legend thing. Sheesh.
Anyway, so as not to be wholly disappointed by the use of Vonnegut’s name in vain, I found another quote – one he actually said – that perfectly encapsulates our day at the butterfly pavillion, holding a tarantula, and writing a novel:
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”