I don’t like spiders. Nobody likes spiders. Let’s not kid outselves about this. Nobody.
Those freaks who keep tarantulas in tanks? They don’t like spiders. They just want to know where that bastard is at all times.
When they get it out of the tank and let it crawl up their arm? They don’t like that. They’re not stupid. They’re just trying to get it used to their scent, so it doesn’t call over its buddies to have a face-eating party the following evening.
And as for arachnologists – they’re just following Sun Tzu’s maxim – ‘Know your enemy’.
All of these people are just as scared of spiders as you and I. Yes, you and I. I said let’s not kid ourselves.
But why are spiders so scary? Is it because three psychopathic escaped-criminals and a pirate, all armed with pointy objects and an affection for the look of your backside, STILL have less legs than one house-spider minding its own business above a doorway?
Is it because the most skin-crawling urban legends are always ones about spiders exploding out of harmless objects and crawling into places you might be about to go? Like your bed, the toilet, your underpants drawer or significant-other?
Or is it that you hate spiders because you quite liked Spiderman as a kid AND SPIDERS ARE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE SPIDERMAN?
But whatever the reason we hate spiders, we can be sure that they hate us too.
Every so often in my grey and dreary life, a spider will come along and brighten my day with a lightening-bolt of fiery adrenaline. This happened to me last night – the encounter was fairly typical and I did manage to survive, which leads me to conclude that my method of dealing with this kind of situation is fairly robust.
Thus I will now outline my coping-mechanism for you, in the hope that I can inspire the next generation of fearless spider-copers:
- First, I allow the rational part of my brain to take a step back, so my sympathetic nervous system can do what it feels it has to. This generally involves an increase in heart-rate and oxygen flow, the escape of what to the casual observer might sound like the shriek of a small girl, and several feet of involuntary backwards motion.
- Next, I cry out for Miss-Matic. I listen for the sound of an exasperated sigh. If it doesn’t come, I call out for her again and again, until she comes.
- Then I point out the spider, and demand that she make it go away. Occasionally she will consider the spider to be ‘tiny’ – when it is clearly medium-sized, or ‘small’ – when it is clearly fucking huge, and consider it beneath her attention – but I qualify my demands with statements like, ‘It’s me or the spider‘, ‘I’ll never speak to you again‘, or ‘Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease‘, until she gives in.
- Next I run to the front door and open it wide, while she gathers her chosen weapons – usually a glass and a piece of cardboard. Then I hide somewhere while she uses magic to fortify herself enough to approach the spider, and somehow – probably magic again – manages to snare it in the glass.
- Next I retreat deeper into the place I have found to hide, making sure that I am not trapped between Miss-Matic and the door. When she goes outside, I run to the door and peer out, making sure she isn’t going to accidentally release the spider anywhere close to the flat.
- ‘Further,‘ I shout. ‘Further!‘ And when I’m satisfied that she is far enough that if the spider overwhelms her and charges at me I’ll have time to slam the door shut and barricade myself in, she does whatever she does to ensure it will never bother us again – squash it, break 5-7 of its legs, use a flamethrower on it, or whatever.
- When she returns, she finds me guarding the door like mighty Cerberus himself – insisting she check that the glass is definitely empty, that the spider isn’t mortally wounded but hanging on to the cardboard with its last good leg, or hitching a ride in her bra – before I allow her back inside.
- Finally, I make her go and wash the glass out.
In this manner, I have coped with a number of my arachnid foes, and think I am steadily developing a reputation amongst them.
I look forward to the day when I become legend among the eight-legged folk; part-myth, part unholy reality. They will shudder as they barricade their webs shut at night. They’ll look nervously over their shoulders and obsessively check corners and spaces above doors. They’ll scare their innocent offspring into good behaviour with disturbing tales – tales of a figure that looms out of the night and emits a sound far more terrifying than any banshee’s wail:
The cry of Ash-Matic, summoning his girlfriend.