My severe arachnophobia is well-known. I blame the Dr Who Planet of the Spiders episode. My research showed that this first aired in 1974, so assuming it came to Australia not long afterwards, I must have been around 3 or 4 years old when I saw it. Even looking back at the hokey 70s prop spiders gives me the heebeejeebees.
OK – posting that for you is killing me. [pic of large spider replaced with cute kitty for your reading pleasure!]:
I’m getting a little better. As an adult, I have managed to let go of my daddy-long-legs fears. That’s a good thing, because my house is full of them. But it wasn’t until my late teens that I managed to cope with them. Growing up with an outside loo was torture. Tarantulas and bird-eating spiders are exotic and not likely to be crawling into my bed at night, so I can cope with their existence as long as I can’t see them. The black housespiders that nest in the eaves are creepy, but keep their distance. Redbacks are nasty, but teeny tiny and easily identified. These days my real anxiety really only shows itself with two kinds of spiders. Unfortunately they are kind of rife around here.
Despite knowing that huntsman spiders are benign and safe, I can’t cope with them being in the house. Fair call too, because they are HUGE. Like the size of my hand. And they sit on the wall and ceiling with their legs all spread out. It’s unnerving. Once when my daughter was a newborn, I noticed one above the doorway to our bedroom. Thank goodness I had moved the bassinet into the sunroom before I saw it, because I honestly cannot say if I would have been able to walk under the spider to go to her. And if I had, I doubt I would have been able to walk back out. I checked on it for hours to make sure it didn’t disappear, because if there is one thing worse than a spider you can see, it’s a spider you can’t see but you know is there.
My arch-nemesis is of course the funnel-web spider. A much more sensible fear, because of the whole Most Fucking Venomous Spider in the World thing. They are in my nightmares. Just thinking about them makes my hands shake. Until three years ago, I had little exposure to them, despite always living in their territory. And then we moved here – to this nice house backing on to a tad of bushland, with a pool. How many “funney buggers” have I seen since? We are in double digits! Never near the house, always in the pool after heavy rain. I understand they can survive underwater for days, and when you pull them out they might look dead, but they can come back to life. Here is one we pulled out back when we first moved in Again replaced by same cute kitty all growed up:
Now they are so commonplace we don’t bother taking pics. Gah.
But my favourite (and by favourite, I mean most nightmarish) spider story is this:
One day when I was a new young mum, I was doing a load of laundry. I was whistling as I worked, because there is nothing more cheery than washing a pile of wee baby onesies on a sunny Spring day. As I loaded up the washing machine, I noticed a teeny tiny spider just inside the rim. About the size of my little fingernail. A ‘pidey. So I squashed it with my thumb and closed the lid of the machine. Strange. There it was again. A teeny tiny ‘pidey on the lid. So I squashed it again. With my thumb. Not before noticing that it looked like a miniature cute widdle huntsman.
And then I looked up…
The ceiling of the laundry was covered in hundreds of teeny tiny huntsmen. Crawling with them. And one big mothership huntsman in the corner, glowering at me. It was like the end of Charlotte’s Web, when her egg sac hatches and the air is full of tiny spiders. If Charlotte’s Web were written by Stephen King. I shut the door and walked away. I may have curled up and sobbed for a while, I can’t recall. Then I did what any right-minded, environmentally aware person would do – I had my husband napalm all up in that joint until the little bastards were dead, dead, dead.
So now you know what’s in my Room101. What’s your worst phobia?