My phobia of spiders can’t have been learned from my parents as neither were afraid of them. However, I do remember my brother screaming like a girl at a 1D concert at the sight of the teeniest one on his bedroom wall. So I’ll blame him.
My earliest memory is when I felt one crawling around in my nightie. Long story short, I screamed the place down, Ma bowled in and mashed it into the carpet. Hello, phobia!
Every time I screamed at the sight of a spider, Ma would storm in, grab it with a piece of bog roll and fling it down the toilet. With each flush, I felt a pang of guilt that it’s life had been ended because of my irrational fear. Dad used to liberate them back into the garden. I preferred his way to ma’s gung-ho approach. Spray it. Swot it. Annihilate it. That was Ma’s motto.
Rumour had it that she’d had a bit of an unfavourable experience with an Alsatian once and it made her intolerant to anything with more than two legs. Also, she couldn’t be arsed coaxing insects into glasses when Corrie was about to come on. No live pause in those days!
But karma’s a bitch because one summers day, Ma had been gardening and she’d kicked her slippers off in the garage. Task completed, she went to put a slipper back on and was stung on the toe by a startled bee who’d crawled inside. We heard her shout ‘YOU LITTLE SOD!!’ (which instantly put us kids on the defensive) and then she went all Chuck Norris on it with the other slipper. Ma would have had a shit load of apologising to do before she got to go through those heavenly gates!
But THE incident which still leaves me cold is this..
Tarantulas first came into my life in 1987 when ex-hubs bought one after his father had died. Despite being phobic, I didn’t have the heart to argue. Sadly, after a few years of trying to cope (and the knowledge that females can live for 25 years) my anxiety got the better of me and hub’s brother adopted her.
Fast forward to 2007 where, in a cruel twist of fate, I discovered that the new man in my life had four of the bastards In his BEDROOM!
I had a choice. I could either put as much distance between him and his crawlies as possible or I could try to conquer this phobia once and for all.
Again, I tried but despite my best efforts, the anxieties crept in and the paranoia of one of them escaping and suffocating me in my sleep terrified me. Obviously I wasn’t the spider’s biggest fan but it was a sad day when I saw that one had joined the choir invisible. There was no chance of me putting my hand in and fishing it out but I did feel a twang of sadness that this little creature had died.
We lost another after we moved house. The shock of being carted about may have proved too much for it or maybe it was a male who had simply come to the end of his life as they have a significantly shorter life span compared to females. My bet was the years of trauma on having to see OH’s arse peeking out from under the duvet had finally seen it off.
By the time we had little man we were down to two spiders, in tanks, still in the bedroom. I piled books onto the lids to thwart any attempts at escape and slept with one eye open. All was well. As well as it can be in a room with f**king arachnids, that is!
Except that OH didn’t quite close the lid properly one night and I woke up to the sight of a couple of tarantula legs doing the can-can through the smallest of gaps. I was rendered motionless with fear. My WORST nightmare was coming true…
It was ESCAPING!!! (one more ! for emphasis)
Before long, there were SIX legs poking out and I broke all kinds of world records getting out of bed. I grabbed a sleeping S out of his cot and on last glance before slamming the door shut, the cheeky sod was legging it along the bookcase!
Hysteria kicked in and I kept slapping my face to make sure I hadn’t actually died and this was my personal hell brought on by my years of snitching it’s family members up to Ma. I was on my own, with a baby, and OH was stuck in a meeting miles away so I phoned the only other spider appreciator that I knew.. ex hubs!
The spider was now at large in the bedroom but ex-hubs strode in there like Bear Grylls. Granted, he almost trod on him as he was the same shade as the carpet, but he captured him and bunged him back in his tank. For this, I am eternally grateful for him and his lovely partner for coming to my rescue.
OH got the bollocking of his life when he got back home..
I named the spider, ‘Cooler King’ after Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape because, as escapes go, it’s up there with the best.
I don’t know if it was the excitement of the escape or the shock of coming into direct contact with OH’s dirty undies but Cooler King didn’t live much longer before scuttling off into the big ol’ web in the sky. The ultimate escape, bless ‘im.
Having faced my worst nightmare (sort of) I’m not as scared of them as I was but I’d probably still die if one dropped onto my face. Not to mention the dreams I occasionally have of spiders escaping from tanks…
Hopefully, this post wont give YOU nightmares!