Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

What’s worse than a mouse in your house? Sharing a bed with a poisonous spider

Life throws all kinds of stuff at you: Lizards, termites, crumbling drywall, mice...and singing doctors in blue tuxedos with polka dot bowties
Credit: wikicommons
Credit: Wikipedia commons

So remember Squeaky? Squeaky the Mouse? Squeaky the Mouse that was actually probably a rat? A rat that was living in my sewer that I entombed in a cloud of the cement foamy thingy like a made for tv version of The Cask of Amontillado? The one that sent me fleeing from our bucolic little bungalow in a pretty olive grove in Central Israel all the way to Jerusalem?

Well, great news! He didn’t follow us to Jerusalem.

But life is never simple, is it?

And while Squeaky wasn’t around anymore, someone else was:

Creepy the Brown Recluse Spider.

And what’s worse than having a Brown Recluse Spider in your house?

Having a Brown Recluse Spider in your bed.

Without knowing it.

And there you have it: Unbeknownst to me, Creepy the Brown Recluse Spider and I were sleeping together.

Creepy is a fly-by-night kind of spider.

I’ve literally never seen him.

But he’s left a lasting impact.

On my heart. Well, on top of it.

“But how does she know it was a Brown Recluse spider that slept down beside her?” I hear you cry.

Well, for one thing, this is my lot in life. This is my lot in life. Four years ago, I lived with a lizard that used to jump on my face while I slept. Plus there were about a zillion termites eating the drywall in my bedroom to the point where part of it literally fell down.

Also on my face while I slept.

I won’t even tell you about the ants, the snails, and the goat who wandered into our garden and ate my begonias.

Then, after we left THAT place, I spent the last year living with a mouse (ok, actually a rat) with a nasty stubborn streak who took 4:30 am swims in my toilet, so it makes total sense that another creature with attitude – and apparently a serious biting fetish –  would move in with me. Basically, I’m LITERALLY Snow freaking White except instead of singing deer and butterflies, I get lizards and termites and mice (ok, rats).

THEREFORE, it makes total sense that I’d run away to Jerusalem only to end up with a creature that leaves welts all over my body

A welt the size of a small planet on my left breast, to be specific.

I’m not gonna lie: the welt wasn’t pretty and so I went to urgent care for antibiotics. The male doctor at the urgent care clinic had to call a female nurse in to stand guard while he examined me.

“Oh, I’m not shy,” I told him as I began to pull down my camisole.

The nurse laughed.  The doctor didn’t.

“Well, I am shy,” he said.

The doctor wasn’t sure what it was at first: “Hmm. I don’t know what this is.”

“It’s my breast,” I said.

The nurse laughed.

The doctor didn’t.

“I mean, the thing on it,” he said. “I have no idea”

“Oh,” I said, mildly concerned he referred to my welt as a “thing.” Or that he had “no idea” what it was.

“Did you burn yourself?” He asked.


“Are you sure?”

“Dude. I would know if I burned myself. This isn’t like my thumb.”

“Yes, you mentioned that earlier when you said it was your breast.”

The nurse laughed. The doctor didn’t.

He took out a magnifier.

He spent a good two minutes examining the welt.

I could hear the clock ticking.

“Probably a spider bite,” he said after alllllll the time in the history of the whole entire universe since forever and a day passed on that ticking clock under his magnifying glass. “And Probably a Brown Recluse, given the puncture wounds and the size.

So, now you know how I know that Creepy is a Brown Recluse Spider.


The Brown Recluse is one of two poisonous spiders here in the region. If you really want to know if it’s a Brown Recluse and not some other random spider, you have to examine its eyes. It’s got six of them.

Credit: Wikicommons

Yeah. I’m going to get right on that. LOLZZZZ.

Nah, instead I’ll just trust the doctor who can tell the difference between my thumb and my breast.

So, I took a broad-spectrum antibiotic. I had chills, and I wanted to puke a little. I waited for my spider superpowers to kick in. And the whole thing left me with a gentle nostalgia as I remembered the halcyon days with Squeaky who most certainly tormented my dreams…. but never actually climbed into bed with me.

The welt grew. And it grew.

“Maybe the spider laid eggs in you,” a helpful taxi driver mused after I shared TMI with him on the way to the shuk a few days later.

Of course. Only me. Snow freaking White.

Credit: Wikicommons

So I got an emergency appointment with a specialist, the taxi driver made a quick u-turn with alacrity and aplomb and drove me all the way to Rishon.

“Send pictures of the cute baby spiders!” He said as he dropped me off.

I think he was joking.

The doctor was a cheerful man in a powder blue tuxedo with a polka dot bowtie. Old enough to be my grandfather.

“Show me breast,” he said.

I showed him breast.

“You khev burn,” he said.

“No, it’s not a burn. I didn’t burn myself. I think it’s a …”

“Look,” he said and held up his index finger. “I am locksmith. You are missing key to khouse. I find key, treat lock. I let you back to khouse. Maybe it’s spider bite. Maybe it’s burn. I treat like burn. Even if spider bite, treatment work. You go back to khouse with new key.”

“But is there a sign of spider eggs? I saw this movie once …”

“We all see movie once. I see ton of movies. I see love story. I see sad story. I see story about dogs. I see movie about Beatles. You know Beatles? ‘BACK IN THE USSR! YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY WE ARE!” he got up and twirled. “See movie, fine. But don’t LIVE in movie!”

“Are you from the former USSR?”

“Yes! I am a Putin boy! But I don’t like him! Back in the USSR!!!”

“I see,” I said.

“Ok. Now. Take off face mask,” the doctor said.


“I’ve seen left breast. Show me smile!”


So? I did.

And I even laughed, too.

Because what else can you do?

Life is going to throw all kinds of stuff at you. Lizards. Termites. Crumbling drywall. Mice. Brown Recluse Spiders. Singing doctors in blue tuxedos with polka dot bowties.

But… if you can turn it into a funny story, it isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s pretty great. And if you can’t turn it into a funny story? Then what is the point?

The treatment worked.

Spider bite. Burn. Whatever. The doctor gave me key to khouse.

And there were no spider eggs gestating inside me – none that I saw at least, except in a few nightmares.

Although I gotta tell you, it’s a lot of fun swinging from building to building on a gossamer web. Puts everything in exquisite, glorious, and radically absurd perspective.

The welt eventually healed. And a pretty scar remains to this day. Every day it gets a little smaller… and I like it. It’s shiny pink, shaped uncannily like a hammer and a sickle, back in the USSR.

Back in the USSR
About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.