Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. I am absolutely, completely, totally, unreservedly, honest-to-god TERRIFIED of spiders. Those scenes in LOTR with Shelob and Frodo I still can’t watch without getting queasy, or without my hands over my eyes. I had nightmares after reading the Mirkwood Forest chapters of The Hobbit. I steadfastly refuse to watch ‘Arachnophobia’ at all – EVER. You’ll be visiting me in the psych ward if I ever do get a glimpse of that thing. And those spiders in that Harry Potter movie – Forgeddabboutit! I can’t even stay in the room!
I’m not sure exactly when this started – certainly by the time I was 10 if not before. I distinctly remember an episode of “Outer Limits” where this lady kept trying to kill a spider and it just kept coming back – bigger each time. The end scene showed a gi-normus, hairy leg looming outside her window as she screamed. I also remember playing Hide and Seek in a milkweed patch with some friends and coming face to face with an arachnid of the black and yellow garden variety. I was so close to it I actually thought it was at least as big as my head. After a panic-stricken, (and extremely vocal) flight to the house, I literally climbed up my father and remained on his shoulders for a good couple of hours.
I suppose I should also thank my Uncle Dave. He had a tarantula named Esmeralda as a pet. One afternoon I went over to visit and we were sitting at his kitchen table, having cigarettes and coffee (yes, I used to smoke). Suddenly I felt something on my right forearm….. “Big D” (I was “Little D” or “DJ”) forgot to tell me he’d let Ezzie out of her terrarium for a walkabout. I screamed bloody murder as I saw myself reflected in 4 pairs of eyes; and batted the horrible thing off my arm. I moved across the room at lightspeed, screaming at top volume. Unfortunately, my “lightning fast reflexes” still gave her time to scratch me with her fangs as I upended her across the kitchen table. Greaaat…. Now I’m gonna DIE…… Fortunately, nothing happened but me getting violently sick to my stomach. In hindsight, I think that had more to do with an excess of adrenaline than any spider venom. But I’ve got a cute little scar on my arm to go with that story, and I’ll be glad to show it to ya anytime!
Normally, I don’t encounter too many spiders in the fall and winter – just a few “low rida” nasty-fast brown mother-truckers with a light racing stripe on their backs – in the cellar. Occasionally these will make a foray into the living room to the accompaniment of much screaming from the resident female homo-sapiens. Canine to the rescue! (Sophie corners and eats them.) But – at this time of year, my house becomes Spider Central for some reason. Those nasty low ridas; big, fat black mini-Shelobs (not really – but, YUCK!!!), jumpers (found one on my pillow next to me one spring morning a few years back – lovely start to the day – didn’t need my coffee at all) , the light tan ones that made their movie debut in that movie I refuse to see, and huge icky brown ones that stay outdoors and lurk in the vinyl siding.
The light tan ones tend to drop from the canister lights in the bathroom and kitchen – right in front of my face -when least expected. I refer to them as the “Alien Face Hugger” spiders. I’ve lost good years of my life due to the frights. The fat black ones stick to the corners and are easily disposed of. I try to leave the big ones outside ALONE. They’re sentient (I’m sure) and I know they’d plot my assassination with little or no provocation. They may be doing so already by sending in the Shock Troops. It’s an Arachnid Conspiracy. Those Low Rida Spidas….They’re simply E.V.I.L. If you don’t get a kill on the first try, THEY.COME.AFTER.YOU. I swear, they do! Arachno Special Forces…It’s the stuff of nightmare…. I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately. Where are Sam and Frodo with Sting and the Glass of Galadriel when I need them? Jussayin……