Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was reading an article in the paper the other day about this year’s Spooky World attractions in Litchfield, and one of them is a house in which each room features a common phobia. One room, for example, has a snake theme, while another has spiders.

I love amusement parks and haunted houses, but when I read the part about the spiders, all I can say is you wouldn’t catch me near that place even if it were the only shelter from a hurricane.

The funny thing is, my mother always was terrified of snakes, but spiders didn’t bother her at all. I, on the other hand, if given the choice between spiders and snakes, would prefer to see a python sitting in my living room.

I think my fear began when I was young and stayed overnight at my aunt’s house during summer vacation. She lived out in the country in a brick house that had ivy growing up the sides of it. The night was really hot and I was having trouble sleeping, so she opened my bedroom window. The window had no screen, and the ivy climbed right up into it.

When I woke up the next morning, the room was filled with bugs that had decided to visit during the night – most noticeably spiders crawling across the ceiling directly over the bed. I think the people in the next town heard me screaming.

I’ve come a long way since then, however. When I was a kid, even a spider the size of the head of a pin would send me running for shelter. Now I can tolerate one the size of a nail head without hyperventilating.

During our first year of marriage, my husband was my big, brave spider-killer – my knight in shining armor…my Sir Smacks-A-Lot. It didn’t matter if the spider was the size of a tarantula, he would either smack it with his bare hand or use nothing more than a tissue to catch it with, as I watched in awe. That’s because I wouldn’t have touched a spider even if I were wearing hockey gloves.

But over the years, my husband grew wimpier and wimpier when it came to protecting me from the 8-legged invaders. The worst part was he blamed me for his increasing wimpiness. He said my arachnophobia had rubbed off on him and made him fear spiders, too.

So whenever there is a spider in the house nowadays, we are like two frightened children, cowering in the corner and praying one of the dogs will spot the hideous creature and pounce on it.

The other night, I went out to the kitchen and sitting right there on the wall like some kind of decoration, was a big spider – a spider on steroids. If there were a dating service for spiders, this one would end up getting his money refunded, because no female spider in her right mind would be attracted to anything so creepy looking. He was the ugliest spider I’d ever seen – a dark tan color with long, thick legs and a fat head. I bolted back into the living room.

“You didn’t kill it?” my husband asked.

“I’m not going anywhere near that thing!” I said, climbing onto the sofa and tucking my legs underneath me to protect them.

“Well, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight now, knowing that it could be crawling into bed with us,” he said as he shuddered for effect.

His ploy worked. He knew I’d rather do battle with the spider while it was still in the kitchen than wake up and find it lying next to me on my pillow. I approached the kitchen so cautiously, you’d think it had been sprinkled with anthrax powder.

I made my way to the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink and took out my trusty can of Raid.

“Don’t get any of that on the walls!” my husband called out to me from the safety of his recliner. “It might stain the paint!”

“Well, what do you want me to do? Just spray it in the general vicinity? Will ‘essence of Raid’ kill him or just really tick him off?”

As I inched my way toward the spider, he started to move…fast. I sprayed the can directly at him. He fell off the wall and onto the floor and continued to run. Brave soul that I am, I ran in the opposite direction.

I haven’t seen any sign of the spider since, but I have a strong, gut feeling he’s still alive. That’s because I checked every inch of the kitchen and found no curled-up spider corpse lying anywhere about.

So if I’m awakened some morning by the sound of a tiny Raid-induced cough right next to my head on the pillow, I’m not going to open my eyes.