Confessions of an arachnophobe
It’s a little-known fact that even the tiniest little house spider can debilitate and paralyse grown men. If said men are arachnophobes, that is.
People who don’t know better describe arachnophobia as a fear of spiders that is out of proportion to the actual danger.
The truth is the arachnophobe is only too aware of the dangers of spiders, in particular that it’s not just the size of their fangs and the potency of their venom that matters, but how easily they get into shoes and bedclothes and leave their webs where you can walk into them and HOW THEY SILENTLY MOVE AROUND WITH THEIR BEADY EYES ON YOU.
It’s not like those people who are frightened of clowns and balloons (they all float down here!). It’s a perfectly rational reaction to a fearsome and dangerous creature. And at this time of year, they’re on the prowl. The Daily Telegraph warns that as summer approaches the spiders come out. Male funnel-webs, particularly, are running around Sydney looking for a bit of nooky.
My own arachnophobia began as a young child when my mother sprayed a beach shack bedroom for mossies.
I woke, in the dark, some time later with the strangest feeling all over my skin. I flicked on the light.
Dearest, well-meaning mother had disturbed a huntsman’s nest, which had then hatched literally hundreds of teeny tiny spiders which were crawling all over me.
Hours later I was still foetal, fully clothed, under the shower.
Years after that I was on a school kayaking trip and kept imagining something was crawling on my legs, under that elasticated skirt thing that seals you firmly into the boat from the waist down. When we finally reached land I pulled the skirt off and two enormous, hairy spiders spilled out. Cue convulsive shudders.
Now I have recurring nightmares about spiders. The most common one is where my feet are rooted to the spot, then I see in my peripheral vision a spider drop to the ground from somewhere above my head, leave a thick grey strand of spider web.
Then there are dozens of them dropping down all around, creating a little prison of vertical, dusty, spider web bars.
Then they start scuttling towards me…
So don’t say it’s some sort of fear without foundation. There’s one hell of a foundation.
There’s a solid reason that, if I walk through a spider web, I do this crazy wacky manoeuvre that involves both dancing like a frenzied string puppet and slapping myself repeatedly on the head.
When I flick down the shade visor on my car with a long stick, it’s a calculated move based on sound principles and defensive action.
OK, so the time I set the curtains in a Manly youth hostel on fire because fly spray on its own just wasn’t doing the job on a particularly large specimen so I introduced a lighter into the equation may have been a bit over the top…
Still, I got the evil bastard.
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