That was his name. Though, considering how large he was and how long he lived, I venture that Eddie was not a he but a she. No matter.
Eddie belonged to one of the most delicious looking farm boys you ever saw. Those of you from the Midwest probably already have a mental image, kind of tall, kind of lanky, hair the color of dry corn, green John Deere hat sitting on the top of his head like he’d just lifted the bill to wipe some sweat and not bothered to set it back down. Brown Carhartt coat, gun rack in the back window of his pickup truck.
He was a freshman at the U of I. And poor Eddie was being subjected, frequently, to freshman boys filling his tank full of pot smoke. Not to mention that the U of I will let you stick your hand in a cow’s stomach* long enough to figure out how to wiggle in such a way to cause said cow to fart on the Man from GM as he walks by but it won’t let you keep a tarantula in your dorm room.
I already had a snake, so I guess it seemed logical that I could also then take the tarantula. Which was fine, because except for the rare occasions when he would pull out all his butt hair and then crack open his butt skin and wiggle out of his exoskeleton, thus leaving a perfectly hollow shell of a spider you had to fish out of the tank** and the few times when you might actually catch him eating a cricket, he didn’t do much.
Well, not much that we saw.
For one day, Eddie chewed his way through the nylon screen at the top of the tank and escaped. On the one hand, this sucked as the cute farm boy no longer had any reason to come over. On the other hand, once word of the escape got out, no church busybodies came over either.
We all presumed that Eddie died. After all, the house was a crappy dangerous place. My mom repeatedly fell through the porch and above the TV dangled some weird mold stalactites. And tarantulas aren’t native to Illinois. How long could he last?
A year, America, a whole year. When my parents moved from the house, while I was away in college, they found Eddie under the entertainment center in the living room, fat, happy, and alive.
Mom swears that she thinks he was living under there eating mice. It could be.
Sadly, after all that freedom, he never readjusted to life in the tank, and shortly died, probably of boredom.
*via a hole they had cut in the side of the cow and kept open with some kind of plastic plug.
**It occurs to me that this may explain why the tiny cat pulls her butt hair out. Perhaps she’s trying to molt.