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When I was a kid, I spent all of my days in the woods up by Cripple Creek. I formed the Dangerous Animals Club with a friend of mine named Billy Hart, and we made a list of all the nastiest things on the face of the earth: centipedes, scorpions, black widows, the works. One day Billy and I went hunting for tarantulas. We had been advised that tarantulas have two holes in the ground, a main hole and an escape hole. What you do is you put a big jar over the escape hole, then pour something particularly foul down the other. So we got a Whitfield Pickles jar, put it over the escape hole, and poured some denatured alcohol down the other. Sure enough—pop!—out came a tarantula into the jar. We went over to pick it up and—pop!— another, and then—pop!—another, and pop! pop! pop! It was just like Jiffy Pop. The jar started filling with squirming tarantulas. Billy and I looked at each other with great fear and started crying because we didn’t know what to do. We finally decided to tip the jar over and run as fast as we could, and we didn’t go back for a long time.
Stephen Tobolowsky grew up in Oak Cliff and graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1973. He has appeared in more than forty films, including Groundhog Day and Thelma and Louise. His latest, One Man’s Hero, will be in theaters this fall.