One summer when I was in high school, my brother came to me one day and said, "Hey, come look at this."
He took me to one of the bay windows in our living room, and stretched across the outside of it was a web. Inside the web was a very large, bulbous, gray spider.
"Ew," said I.
But, against my will, I got caught up in watching the spider. Charles and I spent at least an hour that day watching her, and whenever we passed the window for the next couple weeks, we would spend a minute or two staring at her. I felt safe enough because of the glass between us, and she wasn't a very creepy spider. Her legs weren't abnormally long or anything. I believe she was a wolf spider, but I am far from an expert.
Anyway, we watched her catch and eat flies, or spin more fibers when her web got tattered. I think she must have completely rebuilt it a time or two.
My brother decided her name was Lecter. This was before we realized she was a girl spider. That realization came one day when we noticed another spider that had the same markings but was smaller and much skinnier than Lecter lurking around her web.
I named him Sioux. The name had two purposes...one, I thought that it would be amusing, since Lecter is bit of a masculine name, to have a "Boy Named Sioux," so to speak. The other reason was because Lecter didn't like the boy spider, and "Sioux" is a word that means "enemy."
We could tell that Lecter wasn't fond of Sioux because whenever he dropped down from his own web, which was presumably somewhere in the rafters above and to the right of her, she would chase him away. He would crouch on her web (saying, "Hey sexy, hey sexy, hey sexy" over and over) and she would ignore him, then suddenly charge at him, which would cause him to let go of her web and swing away on his already-prepared lifeline.
We got to watch them mate, too. Sioux was a smart and resourceful boy spider. He wanted the sex but not the, y'know, imminent devouring that would happen after. He had a plan. Every day, he would swing down to spend some time on Lecter's web. Hey sexy, hey sexy, charge, rinse, repeat.
Every day, he got a little closer.
One day, even Lecter seemed to sense it was time. Sioux climbed up next to her, and instead of charging him, she retreated a little. He followed her. She feinted toward him, and he backed up a little, then ran toward her. She backed up, then feinted again. This happened several times, every time with Sioux getting a little closer to his goal of booty.
Once or twice, he managed to brush her back with one of his legs. (Aw, baby, don't be like that.) Eventually, he covered her.
Spider sex isn't hot.
He went, like, WHUMPH and stood on his back four legs, covering her with his front four, then as she turned to strike at him, he was swinging on his lifeline, half a foot away.
Exhausted and spent (I'm assuming), he just kinda swung there for a couple minutes, before slowly climbing up to his web. It's possible, I suppose, that Lecter managed to get a bite in before Sioux got away, in which case he died up in the rafters. We never saw him again.
Lecter wasn't lonely, though. She made a new friend. Petrie.
Petrie wasn't the same kind of spider as Lecter and Sioux. He was a tiny, glossy brown fellow. As far as I know, he didn't have a web anywhere. He just showed up one day, crawling along the outside window sill. When he encountered one of Lecter's web strands, he paused, testing it with one foot.
"Hey!" he said. "I like this thing! I shall climb it!"
So he did.
Lecter, crouching in the middle of her web, watched him for a while. I presume Petrie was hailing her, "Hey! Hey! Will you be my friend?! I don't have any friends! Will you be my friend??"
Lecter let him get about halfway up her web. Then she suddenly tensed her front legs (she was facing downward) and strummed her web. Petrie fell off.
"Okay," he called. "I don't think you're aware of this, but you just knocked me off your web! It's okay, I'm not mad, I just wanted you to know that when you do that thing with your legs, it makes it very hard for me to climb!"
Petrie started up the web again.
This time, Lecter let him almost within striking distance before strumming him off.
Petrie got sad. "Okay," he said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to trouble you." And he wandered off across the sill, sniffling. I felt sorry for Petrie.
A couple days later, Lecter was gone. Her web was gone. It was the end of summer, so I suppose she found somewhere to lay her eggs, then just faded away somewhere (like, remember that scene in Charlotte's Web? Made me cry every time.)
Lecter gave me a chance to observe a spider in its natural habitat without being afraid it would come into my house and touch me. Wolf spiders stay outside. I didn't mind Lecter so much. She was cranky and prickly and probably yelled a lot, but...I kinda liked her. She was okay.
For a spider.