Show me your phobia and I’ll show you mine

Daylilies on my back porch rail (YOU DIDN'T THINK I'D PUT A PIC OF A SPIDER ON HERE, DID YOU?)
Daylilies on my back porch rail (YOU DIDN’T THINK I’D PUT A PIC OF A SPIDER ON HERE, DID YOU?)

C’mon, admit it-you have a phobia. What is it?

The bad news yesterday was that a big banana spider had webbed up my front door during the night. The good news was that I wasn’t the first person out that door. “I hated to kill it,” my son-in-law said, “but I walked right through the web and just reacted.” Ah, but not like I would have reacted-my ninja moves and piercing screams would have woken up the entire neighborhood.

I completely agree that arachnophobia is irrational. I have told myself that many, many times. I have never been bitten by a spider; I have no idea why they are the only living thing on the planet that can throw me into a panic. Is it because they look like they are crouching, ready to pounce? I don’t know.

Lots of people are afraid of snakes. That makes some sense. I am not afraid of snakes. My brother is terrified of rats. That makes some sense. I am not afraid of rats. My daughter is afraid of chickens. Chickens! “Look at their eyes,” she says. “They are covert reptiles.” I am not afraid of chickens; I rather like them.

I was scared of the little cellar spiders where I grew up in New England. Then I moved to Florida, i.e. Spider Hell. The wolf spiders were so big they left tracks in the sand and they had a hideous habit of hiding in the shower curtain.

Arachnophobia is ten times worse when you’re naked. I know, I know-that’s crazy. But think of whatever scares you witless and then imagine it is in front of you-AND you are naked. See what I mean?

I tried to cure myself by watching a video during which the arachnophobe is in control of the spider. The idea is that you gradually move it closer and closer until it is on you and you are cool with that. HA! I couldn’t even stand the digital spider way across the digital room.

A recent news story reports that a man burned his house down trying to kill a spider. That’s understandable, though I’ve never quite gone that far. I admit I did shoot one once that was on the ceiling. Well, it was watching me, I tell you, and it lifted its front legs to threaten me!

How much damage can a pump BB gun do to a ceiling? Probably not too much, except I had to shoot it eight times.

I faced a monster spider once like Rambo with a Raid can. It had webbed up the whole porch, ceiling to floor. What to do? While wringing my hands in despair, a fledgling mocking bird flew into the web and was trapped. You know, there are some things you just have to do or you will never be able to live with yourself afterward. This was one of those times.

As the spider approached the struggling bird, I grabbed the Raid and rushed outside, spraying with one hand and snatching the bird out of the fishline-thick web with the other. I remember yelling, “Oh HELL NO, you are NOT going to kill that baby bird!” I sprayed and sprayed until the spider hit the deck with an audible “clunk!”

After de-webbing the bird and setting him free, I tried to identify the spider, to no avail. Undiscovered breed? Mutant? Maybe I had just wiped out the last of an entire porch-webbing endangered species? Good. Let me assure you, any spider that webs up my porch is, by definition, endangered.

Some snakes are endangered. My friend is afraid of snakes and so I tried to teach her the difference between poisonous and harmless snakes. She listened skeptically. “No snake is harmless,” she told me, “if it can make you jump off a cliff.”

Good point.

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