Friday, November 4, 2011

Touching Spiders

Today, I touched a spider. On purpose.

Specifically, I touched this spider:

Captain Daddy Long-Legs
He was a big Daddy, maybe 2-inches across with his impressive legs, lolling there on a sunny concrete ledge.

The reason I touched the spider is, in part, because of the ending of hysterical blog post over on Hyperbole and a Half.  Go ahead and read it right now.  I'll wait. 

[singing, humming, filing nails]

All done?  Great. 

So now you know that about the scariest thing she could think of to do was to touch a spider.

Solidarity, sister, I say.

Spiders have scared the snickers out of me since I was a little kid.  My mother spent a lot of time removing them from one corner of my room where they tended to lurk.  I took their presence personally, figuring that they knew they made me quiver, and so picked on me. Like dogs, they could sense my fear, and hunted me down. 

Bad Memory #1: After using a plastic bathroom cup to rinse my mouth out after brushing my teeth, I spit the foam out in the sink, and then saw a very large, hairy, wet, and downright angry looking spider trying to crawl back out of the sink. 

I still don't know if he got the dental swirl, but let's just say, I never used that cup again.  To this day, I cup my hands together to rinse my mouth when brushing my teeth.  There is no big cup in which big spiders may lounge about in in my bathroom.

Bad Memory #2: As a teenager, I remember waking up standing next to my light switch at the door to my room, the room ablaze, trying to piece together just how I got there.  Then it came to me, the image of spiders half a foot in diameter dangling down from the ceiling, webbing their way toward me. 

The only way I could talk myself back into sleeping was by realizing that, without my contact lenses, I couldn't see a spider that size that far away. 

I didn't find that comforting, since that didn't mean that gigantic spiders weren't up there, just that I couldn't see them.  I slept stifling myself with a spider-guard sheet tucked around my head.

Spiders, no matter how good they may be for your garden and removing other pests, freaked me out.  As a grownup, they still send me galloping off and announcing their presence in a high pitched voice when I encounter one. Spider! Spider! Spider!  That's usually followed by swatting at them with a shoe. 

However today, having just read about spiders and fear and invincibility, when I saw that big spider that appeared to be dead and possibly permanently affixed to the cement, well, I had to stop to take a picture at least. 

The first step to dealing with fear is to examine it closely. 

On observation, I noted that the radioactive mutant spider had 7 legs.  That meant that bad boy had a run in with something and lost a leg. 

Another uncomfortable childhood memory involves 2nd grade boys pulling the legs off daddy long legs until they could only push themselves around with one leg.  Then they pulled that last leg off and left the legless immobile body shaking there.

That's about when I realized human cruelty is real and arbitrary and starts very young. 

And I don't even like spiders.  But I digress.

Back to Big Daddy and his photo opportunity.  I took his picture and then figured, oh, what the heck.  Touch the spider. He's not even alive, so he's not, for instance, going to skitter up my arm and spit venom in my eye.

I tapped one leg.

And Big Daddy scampered right off on his lucky seven legs, not at all dead.

I scampered way off in the other direction down the path, totally grossed out and quietly thrilled. 

I touched a spider today.  On purpose.

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