Geek at the cool table, cool at the geek table. (aspiring2live) wrote,
Geek at the cool table, cool at the geek table.

The history of a phobia...

It's that time of the year again.

Go here for my last post about this.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "What, Fall?" Well, yeah, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about Halloween, or pumpkins, or Thanksgiving, or cold weather or leaves turning. This is the time of the year when those really beefy reddish brown spiders start making their webs all over the yard every night. We have low hanging limbs in our front yard so it is very common this time of year for them to build their webs between the ground and the branches overhead. This places them at the perfect height for me to run into them in the dark and it creeps me out in a major way. As a grown man of 41 years of age, it is embarrassing and even irritating that I have a nearly (if not so) irrational fear of spiders. But I know where it came from.

When I was probably about 5, my Mom was getting me ready for a tub bath. As I stood beside the tub, I spotted a common brown house spider in the tub, and I was afraid of all bugs at this age. It was maybe an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. My Mom simply turned on the hot water to wash it down the drain. As I watched, it swirled over the drain and, instead of rinsing down, it somehow got positioned over the drain with its legs extended. The water got scalding hot, and apparently the spider was caught by the rushing water in that postion because it didn't curl up and wash away like it should have. In my little guy brain, it seemed the spider was standing defiantly over the drain as the steamy water rushed over it, impervious to it. It scared me badly. Mom finally had to knock it loose with her hand and it washed down. Years later, I still feel almost like it was glaring at me when I remember it over that drain. I know this is rubbish, but that doesn't make the feeling go away.

When I was maybe 9 or 10, I was at my grandmother's house. This was the summer I found the mummified dog under her old outbuilding, apparently laying there to die and never having been found, right under the edge of the building. My relatives speculated it might have been hit by a car on the nearby busy road and stopped there and died. It haunted me, and I was fascinated and scared by that skin and skeleton image. But, nearby she had a large garden and at the end of two rows, a large, (read: LARGE) green and yellow garden spider had spun its web about face high. My cousin and I saw it and knew it was there. Mom told us when she was a little girl people said if a garden spider wrote your name in their web, you would die. I knew that was a myth, but I still checked to make sure I couldn't see any letters formed in the zigzag at the center of the web. As I ran away from my cousin later that day, I jumped between rows and, thinking I was on a different row, ran directly into the web. I saw the spider just before it touched me somewhere around the right side of my neck. I screamed a blood curdling scream and began a series of evasive maneuvers I'm sure were hilarious to see. The rest of the day, I felt covered in moving things. The worse part was that I never found that spider, so that I could prove it wasn't on me to myself.

When I was about 15/16 we spent the better part of a year after my Dad got out of the Air Force living with his mother, my other grandmother. Her house was literally falling apart around her and my Dad rebuilt most of it and reinforced the rest so it would outlast her (and it did). She had large hairy wolf spiders that lived under, around, and yes, IN her house. She called them all "Joe" and would shoo them back into hiding if they came out when company was around. There was one that stayed, for instance under her cast-iron clawfoot bathtub. It would come into the hallway, and when she shooed it, it would run back in the bathroom and under the tub like it was trained. Fortunately, it just didn't like to be out when humans were stomping about, so it stayed hidden whenever I came around. Mostly. She lived in Orlando, Florida, so if you are familiar with the area, they also have very large Palmetto bugs which are essentially flying roaches. Yuk. Anyway, one night as I slept, something large and fast ran directly across my face. I awoke, grabbed it and flung it across the room in a reflex that was Muhammed Ali fast. I turned on the light and effected a hasty search but was unable to find anything. I am convinced to this day it was one of those wolf spiders.

These three events, all silly and really minor, as I know they are, still make me itch to recount. I know this is where my mild arachnophobia comes from, and I call it mild because I can still function around spiders when I have to. If my sons find one, and... uhhhh, Allie isn't home (sheepish grin), I can kill it easily with a long solid object. At times, I have observed a spider on the ceiling on the other side of a large room make its way all the way till it was nearly over my head. Of course, I moved so it wouldn't be or it would have been. I know it is paranoia, but when I see things like that, I can't avoid feeling like they seek me out. I've had a tiny spider spin down off the car interior and land on my glasses before. It seems deliberate, I'm telling you! Allie laughs, but she also helps to resolve my stress over this because she realizes I'm not playing or pretending. I truly get stressed - itchy, sweaty, crawly, tense - when I am forced to be around a spider.

This is my Kryptonite.

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