Author and comedian, Mike Buzzelli
I was determined to kill the spider, but before I attacked, I took a picture of the terrifying creature. If he was poisonous, I wanted people to see the face of my killer. I grabbed a broom from the shed and tried to kill it. After I swatted at it with the bristles of the broom, it fled to parts unknown. I should have just left him alone; because, once again, not knowing where the spider went was worse than knowing where he was. Now, I angered him.
A friend of mine saw the picture of the spider and told me it was a brown recluse, a frighteningly powerful purveyor of poison. I couldn't rest until I determined the spider species.
I consulted spider expert Jonathan Pruitt, assistant professor of behavioral ecology at the University of Pittsburgh. I met up with my spider specialist over a game of bingo. Where else would you expect to find an expert on arachnids? I wasn't going to go visit the biologist in Costa Rica, where he studied aggressive spider species. Heck, I wasn't even going to go see him at the university. Parking in Oakland is atrocious.
Pruitt whipped out his iPhone and showed me pictures of Western Pennsylvania spiders. It was a lot like identifying a suspect in a police lineup.
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Mike Buzzelli is an author and stand up comedian. His book, "Below Average Genius," is a collection of essays garnered from his humor column at the Observer-Reporter. For more information go to