Confessions of an Arachnophobe

I’m sorry. But they had grown much too big, much too fat, much too meaty. One, I saw, even ate its own brethren—the husk of a spider body, white and tan, blowing in the breeze from a thin strand of web.

The final straw was when I went out the back door in the early evening and felt a cobweb cross my face, then lay across my hair. I screamed. Of course. And jumped. And ran a few silly steps while frantically combing my fingers through my hair, hoping not to feel a cool, doughy wiggling thing under my palm.

You see, by this time of summer, they have grown to the size of small toads. In fact, one time I had a guest point emphatically to a corner of my porch. “That spider’s as big as a TOAD,” he declared.

So it was time. I had a broom and a mission.

As terrifying as they are, I’ve grown much less hysterical than in the heyday of my arachnophobia. Now I study the creatures closely with a cortisol-infused curiosity. I can even tolerate one or two setting up camp about the exterior of the house.

They are, after all, reminiscent of dear Charlotte, the amazing spider who could spell. My residents do not craft words, but, rather, elaborate architecture. And they catch flies. But what I remember most about Charlotte was her egg sack, the one that Templeton the rat had to gently extract from the livestock barn and carry in his mouth to Wilbur’s crate as they prepared to leave the county fair.

What I remember was that Charlotte’s egg sack hatched dozens and dozens of little tiny Charlottes, all destined to grow big, fat, and meaty.

And this is what propels me to act.

Ever so gently, one by one, I invited my houseguests onto a very long broom. Each spider was hesitant, confused, and then frantic. I aerobatically balanced the speedily crawling eight-legged creature on the broom while I trotted briskly across the lawn.

I tried to find spidery places, webby places in which to deposit them where they could find some protection and possibly construct a new web. Under a pine tree. In the brush pile. I have no idea if they can survive such a move. I have no idea if they are like the animals in The Incredible Journey and can find their way back.

All I know is that, temporarily, I no longer have to wallow in one of my biggest fears—that one of these plump arachnids will plop on my unsuspecting head.

That night, it poured … buckets, a waterfall. Tucked up in bed, a crisp white sheet to my chin, rain drumming on the metal roof, I thought of them out there. In the wet and the dark. Web-less. Lost in a strange neighborhood.

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