Jack has this awesome toy at the moment, it’s a hand-length, sticky centipede that you throw at the wall or roof and it slowly peels itself off, to be caught or whatever. Jack has decided it’s his ‘spider’ and he loves it. He likes the real things too, sometimes. Usually when he sees one he tries to pick it up – giving me mini heart attacks in the process – or, he stomps decidedly on it, which I generally prefer, although I find hard to do myself. It’s very much play or die in our place, according to Jack.
I think the fear of things is mostly learned – any psych people feel free to correct me here. My brother and I used to love Huntsman spiders. Yes, we really did, we called them ‘Mateys’ and were thrilled to the back teeth when they hung out in our rooms for a week or so as we understood they ate all the bad spiders. When I see one on the wall or roof now, however, I am absolutely certain if I go anywhere near them they will go all kamikaze and thrown themselves into my hair or something. Of which, would cause me to certainly die on the spot.
The house I lived in previously was full of spiders, constantly. Mainly White-tails (yuk), and Wolf spiders, which through google investigation I discovered are similar to Huntsman’s but bigger and like to chase people! I don’t know how many cans of fly spray I went through in that place…But it did help me learn to cope with some form of co-habitation. Spiders up one end of the 30 square house, me up the other.
I don’t mind spiders in theory, really. The arachnid serves a purpose, unlike mozzies – seriously can anyone tell me what they even exist for? – spideys eat other bugs and yukkies, even other spiders, and many are amazing and interesting creatures. So, I admit that I hold a certain respect for them as a species. That does not mean in any way that I can handle them being on me, or remotely close to being on me. If they are in a position where they can crawl onto me, or fall onto me, well I’m not super keen on that.
I don’t like them sharing space with me. Like being in a car for instance. Even a moving car. This has happened to me at least a total of THREE times, each one involving the hairy old huntsman. The most recent was the safest.
It was a hot day and I was driving home from work, happily doing 100 ks and enjoying some tunes. A little wriggle caught the corner of my eye. Yes, right there on my driver side widow was a big hairy spider! I kept my cool though, slowing down as quickly as was safe onto the side of the road, and determining that Mr 8 legs was in fact, on the outside of the glass. Once I stopped safely however, I was presented with the problem of getting rid of him. I couldn’t just leave him there, who knows where he would spring from once I decided to get out at home? I wriggled over the passenger side of the car, jumped out of the door and began my search for a decent sized stick. I was having no luck, and thought it was quite possible I would now come across a snake. That would be just great.
Having no luck in my quest for an appropriate sized stick, I decided to wash him away with a bottle of water that was rolling around the floor of the car. OMG could that leggy bugger hang on! I squirted constantly and he just clung on for dear life, and I felt immense respect for his tenacity. Still, he had to go. Just as my water bottle supply was almost depleted, a kind souled passer by saw me stranded and pulled over to come to my rescue. I think he was expecting a snake, or dragon or some other creature worthy of being frightened of, but he hid his feelings well and brushed Mr Spidey away to live among the small sticks. I escaped red faced, but otherwise unscathed.
Another time, my Mum and I were in the nearby town of Rushworth, enjoying a day and evening of local sight-seeing. I was driving my Dad’s Hilux ute, and the sun was slowly setting as we cruised around town. The silhouette of a spider the size of a rat ascending the windscreen right before my eyes was pretty creepy, but I was quite proud that I had the control to pull on the handbrake as I screamed, then opened the door and jumped out. It was all quite fluid and controlled.
Unfortunately, the handbrake wasn’t pulled on quite hard enough, and we were on a slight hill. The car began rolling backwards slowly, the opened door jerking me with it as Mum shrieked at me to get back in the car. That was so not happening with that bloody spider – who was on the inside incidentally – still there. She managed to pull the brake on hard enough to halt the vehicle, then disposed of the spider, luckily we avoided any kind of real disaster. But Mum didn’t talk to me much for the next couple of hours.
The best car-spider story I have still to this day makes me laugh and cringe. It was in the same town as the previous story, Rushworth, and it was my brother, myself and two of our best friends. My brother had an old paddock basher Honda Accord that he used to practice his responsible and safe driving skills. Anyway, I decided I needed some practice and climbed in the driver seat, he in the passenger, the other two in the back. The car was old and looked like it held together by cobwebs and rust anyway.
I was delighted by my driving skills as we bounced merrily around the paddock, and it was only when the other three went quiet that I saw him. This him was not the size of a rat, he was the size of a house cat, and sat obstinately on the passenger window. I screamed and lifted my feet from the pedals, and as we were going kinda slow, the POS car stalled. We were on a slight hill – yes why do I drive in the town of Rushworth I hear you asking – and the car continued to roll. I tried yanking on the hand-brake as we all giggled and shouted in nervous mirth, but the handbrake didn’t work. My brother growled at me to stop the car, but I wasn’t listening, I just wanted to get out. The other two opened their doors and exited calmly as my brother dug around on the floor for something to protect himself with.
I pulled on the door handle, but to no avail, the handle, like the hand-brake, didn’t work. My brother sighed in annoyance through his growling, and told me I needed to open it from the outside, and to stop the bloody car! I blithely ignored the last half of what he said and stuck my arm out the window and began tugging on the outside handle. I didn’t notice at the time, but I had accidentally locked the door with my elbow when I stuck it out the door. I yanked on it harder and harder, getting more panicked by the second. There was only one way out now. I cast one last glimpse at my brave little bro attacking the giant spider with an old beer glass before I bailed out the window. It wasn’t exactly an elegant departure but the point was, I got out. Alive. The car continued to trundle dismally and I could hear my brothers curses as I army rolled on the dirt and spiky grass. He stopped the car himself before any real catastrophe befell us, and didn’t speak to me for a while.
Fortunately, I survived all these encounters – and actually quite a few more – I don’t think it’s an irrational fear, and I hope that now I can manage the next time there is a spider in – or even on – a car I am in charge of. Even when Jack cheerfully gazes at the seat in front of him as I drive and says ‘Ooh, hello Spidey!’