Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Arachnophobia

Spiders and I have a troubled relationship. Way back in the recesses of my memory, I seem to recall a time when an elementary school class I was in had a pet tarantula. I even vaguely recall handling and petting this creature, and thinking it was "neat".

Somewhere along the way, though, the relationship went south.

It could have been that time I awoke with one skittering across my face and, in an excess of enthusiasm, smushed it into my hair. Or possibly the time I woke up thirsty and sleepily took a big swig of water from the glass beside the bed, only to come fully and unpleasantly awake when I remembered that water doesn't have legs. (There was the moment of horrified clarity when I realized it would be faster to swallow the wiggling thing than to run to the bathroom to spit it out. Only later did it occur to me that I could have spit it back into the cup. By then, the damage was done.)

As a gardener, I am forced to acknowledge that spiders number among our friends in the bug world, unlike, say, cockroaches or termites. They live in my garden in vast numbers and eat the bugs that would otherwise be eating my prized plants. They spin beautiful webs, and I appreciate beautiful spinning, whether accomplished with two legs or eight. And truly, with limited exceptions, they are harmless little creatures.

As long as they stay in the garden. If they come in the house, all bets are off. I like to think that we have an understanding here.

But there is a grey area in our uneasy truce, and that is the topic of this post. You see, we have spiders around here that have an absolutely remarkable talent. They can spin enormous, fully-evolved webs in midair. I kid you not. Huge things, right in the middle of the street, without a tree or an overhang in sight. During the day, this is not such a problem. Most spiders close up shop during the daytime, preferring to laze away the heat of the day in whatever cool and shady spot they call home. But at night--ah, at night, the spiders come out to play.

And therein lies the problem.

Almost every night in the summertime, after dinner and dishes and homework and showers and reading and lights out, I walk the dog. This is the only time of the day when it is cool enough to walk and when my time is not otherwise occupied with the evening rituals of a young family or with sleeping.

This also seems to be prime hunting time for the spiders. At least twice a week, despite keeping a careful lookout for spider webs, I walk through one of these mysteries of the natural world--a spiderweb magically suspended in midair. Most of the time, the web is unoccupied when I crash through it, the occupant perhaps having been warned of the impending destruction of its impressive hunting grounds by the noisy, panting approach of a 110 pound dog on a forced march in a full fur coat. Whatever the reason, I am supremely grateful.

Not that my reaction to an empty web is exactly a model of restraint and decorum. The dancing and screaming and thrashing must be quite impressive, actually, judging from the way the cars slow down to watch. Because, you know, you can never really be sure that the web IS empty. There are all those wispy bits of web, sticking and tickling and itching...and all you can really do is thrash around, trying to brush off whatever sticks or tickles or itches as quickly as humanly possible before it bites you or gets into your underwear, please God!

But once in a while, there is genuine reason for all that dancing and screaming and thrashing. Once in a while, there is a confirmed occupied web. Like tonight.

Tonight I was walking the dog after dark, as is my wont, keeping my usual eye out for spiderwebs, and mostly just minding my own business, when it happened. I walked full-on into a bloody HUGE spiderweb. This sucker went from my upper chest down to my ankles, and at least from one side of me to the other--which I know, because I was wearing a v-neck shirt and capri yoga pants, and both my neck and ankles, as well as both arms, were instantly wrapped in sticky web. And it was thick. It made a noise when I walked through it! And just as I started my usual dance-and-scream-and-thrash routine to get the web off, I felt the spider racing down my back under my shirt, heading straight for the promised land under the waist band of my pants!

You cannot imagine the chaos that ensued. I'm pretty sure I did a damned good impression of a woman possessed. Because not only was the web occupied, not only did the spider actually seek refuge inside my clothes, but it was a BIG spider! I could feel its individual feet racing along my bare skin. It probably left marks. It was the King Kong of spiders, and I was not at all happy to have in on my body.

The dog, as usual, was no help. She took advantage of the break in our brisk pace to lie down on the cool concrete and have a little rest. She is a Newfoundland. She is stoic.

I eventually did get the spider out of my shirt, you will all be happy to know, although not without probably breaking some indecency laws. I also managed to scrape off most of the spider web on the way home, although I had to stop periodically to thrash around a bit more, feeling phantom spider tracks running across my skin.

After all that trauma, I'm feeling the need to curl up with some yarn and soothe my battered soul. But first, I need a shower. A long, hot shower. And there'd better not be any spiders in the bathroom.

25 comments:

yarndork said...

I just peed my pants a little. With laughter.

That was fricking hilarious. Thanks.

punkin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
punkin said...

EEEEEEWWWAHHHH!

I feel your horror. I have tried to make peace with spiders. I even have a big one living outside under the step of my front door, have had one of its kind there for years. It knows its place. It does not bother us and I don't bother it. I practically have a seizure if one gets on me, though. It is probably very entertaining for bystanders.

Ick. I think I feel phantom spider feet

toni in florida said...

ohmygoodness, i needed that laugh! my supervisor just asked me what was up, 'cause i was gigglesnorting and not hiding it very well. (no, i didn't get in trouble, 'cause we're allowed to read blogs at 3:13 a.m. - or any time - when it's slow here in the 911 center.)

and i'm with you on the spider thing. they're amazing creatures who need to stay the heck out of my house, my car, my chosen paths, etc. spiders creep me out, literally. give me a good ol' snake anyday!

Steph B said...

EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!! Oh my gosh, that makes my skin crawl. I would've been screaming and dancing right along with you. I don't mind most critters as long as they know their place, but my house is NOT their place! Nor is my clothing!

trek said...

No, the home is limited to creatures with four limbs and four limbs only.

Sorry about the web. I hate 'em, too.

Andrea said...

Ouch, I'm reading this post, laughing and... feeling tiny legs up my back. Oh my! Shudder. I feel for you. Now I need to do something else, I cannot shake this feeling.

SusanJane said...

Ick, ewww, gack, empathic freakout here. I will kill spiders in my house with anything from hairspray to dictionaries and then make my husband remove the remains. Hope the shower helped. I have been known to strip with lightening speed when invaded in any personal areas by things with more legs than I have. Snakes, rats, hornets--- no prob (in their place) but arachnids---- I have a hair-raising story about being in a cabin in West Virginia and waking up to find.... no, I can't do that to you.
How's the scooter?

sophanne said...

You could just pretend that the webs are simply the ghosts of laceweight shawls.

I don't mind the spiders or the webs. It's when they start to bite that i draw the line. They are, after all, nature's little knitters.

Lydee said...

poor spider, you probably ruined her night....
kidding, really I would have stripped naked screaming. Some things just don't belong together like spiders and human skin.

Kim said...

Oh my, you did get into a doozy! I completely feel your pain- I would have probably showered twice and burned my clothes after an experience like that. Glad you made it out alive!

Tracy said...

Oh I so wish I was there on the street watching. LOL But seriously I empathize. Totally. For the last 3 days I've been waging war on the spider beneath my bed. I've vacuumed, sprayed bug killer (even sprayed between the mattress and box springs) change the sheets every day. I even sleep with a rolled up newspaper because he tauntingly skitters across my lap or up the wall each night, the little sucker is really fast. And every night I've received 4 or more bites. The total count today is 18. I'm losing the battle, I guess we'll have to move....sigh

kmkat said...

Although most small arachnids don't bother me too much, the thought of walking into such a frickin' HUGE web freaks me out. You were lucky to escape alive. Ms. Spider was probably thinking she had caught the Dinner Of A Lifetime.

Kim said...

You must have huge spiders out in your neck of the woods. A web that covers you from chest to ankles! That's the stuff of cheesey horror movies. I do the same dance if I step on a slug outside. I rarely walk bare foot outdoors at night anymore.

Me7of11 said...

I'm laughing so hard, I'm crying. My face hurts, my sides hurt, I have Crytal Light dripping out of my nose, and, like Yarndork...I just peed.

Fibra Artysta said...

I don't think I will ever keep an open glass of water next to my bed ever again. Capped water bottles from now on, yes ma'am, only closed ones...

I have the same issues, except I turn into a little girl and squeal in a most unbecoming pitch for someone my age as I run fleeing from a teeny tiny little speck of bug...so I would have been doing the thrash dance and squealing if I were you.

I hope your dog appreciates the lengths you go to for her enjoyment.

Mother of Chaos said...

I am laughing so hard I can hardly stand it...and also I have to keep stopping to scratch because I SO TOTALLY FEEL SPIDER LEGS ON ME RIGHT NOW.

Thanks for sharing - glad you survived. :)

Sharon said...

Boy howdy, was this post perfectly timed! Tonight when I got home from my knit night, I had just sat down to the computer. No lights were on in the room. All of a sudden a spider started walking across the monitor screen! I just about came unglued. DD heard me freaking out, came in the room, saw the loathsome thing and she started freaking too. Between the two of us we managed to give it a burial at sea (flush) and calm has been restored to the domicile.

But your spider story's way funnier. Thanks--great post!

melissaknits said...

this is not funny. it's just f-ing scary. i feel sick. uggh.

please tell me you drank something adult.

5elementknitr said...

Maybe you could walk while waving a stick in front of you?

You'd look a bit tetched but no less so then the screaming spider dance!

I hate 'em too. After reading your story, now I'm all itchy!

Robin Colman said...

You have lived my worst nightmare. We have those same spiders in Pasadena. There are times of the year when I won't walk at night. Now I may never again.

Aimee said...

Ran across your blog and had a good laugh. I too am wetting myself. I'll remember not to walk at night in San Diego. Our spiders, here in Denver, just stay in the bushes and jump out at people.

Glad you survived!!

knitalot3 said...

I itch now.

I try to let the "good" ones stay in the house, but they better not get *on* me. Ever.

quiltyknitwit said...

You poor thing. Yuck! A couple of months ago I felt something run lightly across my arm in the middle of the night, so of course I shrieked, Hubby switched on the light, and we saw the smushed spider carcass on the sheet between us. I still shudder when I think about it...

Leslie said...

We are on the same page in regards to spiders. But you description is priceless.
What,no pictures? youtube video?