Pure, unadulterated fear.

On Saturday night I had a night in. Alone for a change, I listened to some music, read my book, watched The Wire, watched some films and made a butternut squash, mushroom and pea risotto. Happy days.

Having digested the first helping of my delicious concoction in no time, I made my way over to the pan for another. As I dug in using the wooden spoon (alright, alright, I was alone and I’m not trying to win any etiquette competitions) I saw it. A spider that would immediately quash any doubts that global warming had come to England. It was literally the size of my hand (I’m not even exaggerating. I have quite small hands, but they’re still, you know, hand-sized.)

Yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit it: for a few minutes it got incredibly ‘girly’. Shriek would be the most appropriate word. Lid was to pot as head was to sand and I shuffled back to the sofa trying to talk myself back from the ledge.

Thinking through my options (which were very limited) I started from the notion that this spider needed to be out of my house and out of my life sharpish. Taking lead from the dutch I finally worked up the courage to make my way back over to the pot with plans in mind of using another pan with a lid to scoop Spidey out of pan #1 and then evict from house and then pan #2 leaving me panful and spiderless.

Cautiously, I lifted the lid from the pan and peered inside of the pot. What did I see right by my right eye, clinging onto the edge of the lid with each one of its unnecessary legs? Spidey.

I had not expected that. Not only was I shocked, I was offended. Having trapped Spidey into my ex-dinner, it had shunned my Trojan horse in favour of lid acrobatics. When the screaming subsided and the strange tic of wiggling around ‘shaking off’ the spider that was nowhere near me became less frequent I tried to talk myself down. Again.

I am usually extremely rational, but watching this albeit creepy, but incredibly small creature crawling across the draining board and underneath a roasting tin, my rational self got my crazy self in a headlock and I told myself to shut the hell up. “As spiders go, it’s pretty big” I said to myself “But you are still about 300 times it’s size”. I did a noogy for good measure. Not really – I had far more pressing matters to attend to.

So I calmly discussed with myself the options. I didn’t need to kill it. Not only is it unfair to just kill something when it’s not your only option, I didn’t want to have to scrape the remains of mangled arachnid carcass from the draining board. But what I really did need was Spidey gone for good.

I had lost track of time. Where was he? What was he doing? Was he looking out at me with some/all of his three billion eyes? (Just like he must have been doing while I was cooking. Waited until I’d finished and tucked in. Rude.) I walked back around the counter and into the widest open space I could find in my kitchen (defensive technique) and scanned the savanna. No sign.

I’d blown it. I’d lost my advantage. Oh shite. He was either going to be a lot closer to where I had been sitting previously than I would have liked, or (worse) hidden from view, I thought. This time I meant business. Irrational me was distracted by the game of ‘find-spidey’ while rational me blocked any thoughts of the ‘prize’ of ‘winning’ the game from my irrational self.

Yep. There he was. Hanging off a plastic container by the sink about 1 foot away from where I been sitting when talking myself down. He was only bloody crawling towards my head wasn’t he??? Not any more, sucker, not any more. However, at the sight of dangly-man, irrational me was jolted into action at the hatrick of unexpected sightings. Standing there, all hard-man and wringing my hands and stuff I watched as he swung a bit from the plastic and climbed back up. Gloating at me.

Opportunity struck. Distracted by his showboating he had managed to find himself inside the plastic container which had an attached lid.

I stalked over before I had the chance to go all crazy again and shut the lid on this beast. I actually had to push down to shut the lid as he was that big. So me and the see-through container scuttled towards the door. I ran outside, trying not to look down. I had caught a glimpse of spidey scrappling around inside and I thought if I looked down and saw what was essentially a massive spider in my hands I would lose it. All the way to the end of the road, I ran, and threw container and spidey as far as I could.

When I got back to the house I was flabbergasted. How could I behave like that? How embarassing. Why? Why spiders, when I could probably not squirm much if a wasp crawled on my face? (I’d swipe it away but only because I’d think it was a spider.) Regressive psychology aside, I started thinking about how odd it is to be scared of spiders. I know many people are, but usually I am scared of situations (such as being followed down a dark alley at night) not objects.

The funniest part of the incident (for me, but probably not for a potential bystander) was that it was pure fear. Usually fear is accompanied by another emotion such as anger, grief or jealousy, but this time I could observe the physical reactions to the emotion; the shaking, the heart beating, the sweating almost in the third person (rational me) as it all happened to someone else (irrational me).

The fear-based catch-phrase of the obvious conclusion has long ago been coined by a greater person than me (in intelligence and courage) but, as a musing, (and perhaps a fable?) I do find it funny how you can know something intellectually for a long time but it takes a first-person experience to really understand it.

Disclaimer: Please don’t judge me on the screaming. I really am hard as nails.

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