June 21, 2000

There are few things in this life of which I am truly terrified. I can dress wounds and apply first aid without the slightest touch of queasiness. I witnessed a boyfriend’s vasectomy and held his hand through the procedure. I have mucked out some nasty animal stalls in my day. I owned an albino burmese python which I loved to play with. I usually fed it live mice. I ride motorcycles, do a lot of my own maintenance, and compete in some pretty serious endurance events. I love to camp and hike, and I know how to shit in the woods.

There is one thing, though, that has the absolute ability to turn me into a shrieking girl – a spider.

The idea of touching a spider, or of having it crawl on me (god forbid in my sleep,) utterly Freaks Me Out. Completely. Up until a couple of years ago, if I saw a creature with more than 6 legs in my domicile, in my car, or in my place of work, I relentlessly (but gently) hunted that sucker down, caught it in some kind of container, and deposited it Outside Where It Belonged. Then, when I moved into the Allen Drive house, I reached a kind of peace with the many spiders there – we had two rules:

You are not allowed in the bedroom.
You are not allowed any egg sacks.
First violation, they got a warning, and were either removed from the bedroom, or had their egg sack taken outside. Second violation, out they went. This was a huge step for me. I actually spent time watching them, trying to figure out what it is about them that so utterly creeps me. I think it’s having been bitten by spiders as a little girl. Plus, they’re just so….alien…everything about them screams it; they way the move, the way the look, the way they … well, just the whole way they are bothers me. I think they are very cool, and some of them are even beautiful, in a sinister kind of way. But I do not want any of them touching me. Not even little ones.

A few weeks ago, my friend Beau and I were going to lunch. He was driving. I looked over at him and saw [gasp] a spider crawling on his hair. Resisting the urge to dive headlong out of the truck, I managed to say in a very civilized voice, barely shrieking at all, “YOU HAVE A SPIDER ON YOUR HEAD!!!!!!” Beau, in an act of superhuman strength of will, managed to not drive us off the road and into a tree in an attempt to dislodge the creature from his coif. Instead, he simply said, “What? Get it off.” I paused for a split second. Here I was, trapped in a suddenly very small truck cab with a spider that was visibly quite active. Not only was I to endure this, but … actually wrangle the thing? I steeled my nerves, took a deep breath, and slowly reached for it.

After some aborted attempts and many girl noises, I was finally able to pick it up and fling it out the window (probably with more force than really necessary, but I was terrified it would silk me and crawl back or blow into my face or some other fate-worse-than-death.) Beau was chuckling at me for turning into such a girl. Bah.

The reason I bring this up now is because there is a huge spider in my bedroom at this very moment. I realize “huge” is a relative term. In all cases relating to spiders, “huge” is to mean “any spider with a legs-included diameter of more than half and inch.”

I can hear you sniggering out there.

I tried to scoop it into a glass with a popsicle stick, but it was having none of it. It scurried sideways, it scuttled backwards, seemingly without moving its legs. And then….oh god, then….it jumped!!! Jumping spiders are the absolute worst….I screeched something really butch like “AG!!” and scrabbled instinctively backwards across my bed in an especially graceful maneuver. The spider thumbed the arachnid equivalent of its nose at me, and scurried down into the near-darkness behind my nightstand. Yeah. Like I’m going to poke around where I can’t see anything, and where I know there’s a spider present? Pah. The spider wins this time. But so help me, if I catch it crawling on me, it could sustain injury.

[deep breath]

I feel better now, having shared this. Thank you so much for listening to me. Confessing one’s weaknesses is part of the path to better self-knowledge…right?

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