Arachnophobia is a specific phobia, an abnormal fear of spiders and sometimes other arachnids, such as scorpions and harvestmen. With an estimated half of all women, and one quarter of all men in the United States experiencing it in some degree, it is among the most common of phobias.
Well, bloody hell, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Living in the subtropics, we get our fair share of spiders, and snakes, and other crippy-crawly-thingys, too. I’m OK with most critters, but spiders? Forget it.
Just Saturday the wifey and I were out in the garden “weeding” (yes folkies, no chemicals here) when I stumbled across a few of the more common variety of spiders that the island sadly hosts. My girl-like shrieks always provide moments of amusement for Alice, and my exaggerations of how large the menacing beasts were, too, adds more fodder for her giggly-fits. Still, given the time I spend manicuring plants that grow as high and as fast as Jack’s magic bean stalk, I’ve grown accustomed, more or less, to the typical garden variety of spider (no, not those daddy-long legs ya get back home. We’re talking ugly Mofos). We’ve even found a few IN THE HOUSE. And there was a closet I refused to enter for weeks until I was presented with the remains (proof of its demise) of one of the larger garden varieties that preferred my tool box to its arrangement of rocks out by the pool.
However, I have the mother of all spider stories now.
With the rainy season upon us, I was out staining the deck so that it would survive another season of tropical storms, cyclones and maybe the odd hurricane (note: we’ve only had one hurricane for the record for the South Atlantic, but climatologists do warn that this may well change over the coming years. Regretfully, I digress). So, as I was bent over staining away, feeling like “Super Mr. Domestic Man” (cue orchestra score) when all of a sudden a visitor decided to brush up on my leg. With 3 cats and 5 dogs, I’m quite accustomed to feeling hairy things around my thighs or calves. However, I was not prepared for this.
It was a Tarantula.
Let me repeat that for all of those who suffer from Arachnophobia:
IT WAS A TARANTULA.
In my garden and at my home. Crikies! I knew we were in the sub-tropics, I’ve known for years about poisonous snakes, killer wasps and other nasty things to note… but … but….but….
Yuppers: Big, black, hairy and crawling right up my leg on a breezy cool autumn day in the sub-topics. Did I mention that this happened IN MY BACKYARD?
Following my faux coronary, and immediately after the grand-daddy of all high pitched sissy-wails, when I finally regained my composure and noticed the monster-like arachnid scurrying up the pathway towards the house where an open door apparently beaconed this harbinger of death, I leaped into action to snarl the wretched creature or at least thwart his attempts at entering our homestead (if he succeeded in entering and hiding, I’d be writing this from a hotel).
Using the swimming pool´s “thingy-ma-jiggy” I managed to startle it (not like it startled me, of course) but it did change directions and no longer posed a threat in terms of breaching the homes perimeters. Now, the only thing needed to be done was to get proof that this beast -- that this monster -- actually existed; that this life and death moment would not be chalked up and dismissed by the Mrs. as another “Todd Fabrication” or “Todd Exaggeration”. I needed a camera.
As to what happened later? I killed the bastard. I later looked it up on the net and found out that yes, there is a Black Brazilian Tarantula in this area of Brazil and in Uruguay, and as far as tarantulas go, it is apparently one of the more docile of the lot: hence, it’s enthusiasm in trying to befriend me. Poisonous yes, but there has never ever been a case involving death because of a tarantula bite. I guess I do feel a tad guilty killing such a large thing. I’m a “live and let live” type of bloke, BUT, well, damn: have a look! What would YOU do if you found this bastard crawling up your leg? Arachnophobes unite!