posted on Aug, 21 2008 @ 09:55 PM
I have a phobia of spiders. My mother was afraid of spiders, too. I guess that's where I got it from. Funny thing, I wasn't really afraid when it
all started. In the movies and on TV you see tarantulas crawling all over people, and they don't hurt them. They even sell them in pet stores!
Anyway, it all started one Summer afternoon when I was cleaning out the garage. I picked up an almost empty dog food bag to throw it out, and noticed
something moving in the bottom of it. I tilted the bag towards the light and saw a baby tarantula moving around slowly, and perhaps weakly. Who knows
how long it had been trapped in the bag? For some strange reason, considering my arachnophobia, I felt sorry for it. Instead of killing it, or rolling
the bag up and throwing it in the trash, I took it out to the front lawn and dumped the spider out onto the grass. I even stayed around to watch for a
few minutes, and he started to crawl around a little bit. I hoped he would live and went back to the garage.
A couple of hours later, job finished, I wandered back out to see if I could find the little tarantula. He was easy to find, and quite dead, all
curled up like spiders do when they die. Considering all of the spiders I have fearfully or hatefully killed in my lifetime, I haven't the foggiest
notion today why I should have wanted that one to live, but I did, and for some reason it annoyed me that he had died. I kicked angrily at the dead
body - kicked it out in to the street and left it there. I thought that was the end of it at the time, but today I'm not so sure.
Several weeks later I was collecting roach motels - I didn't use spray or powders because of our little dog Mitzi and the canary. I'll never forget
the time Shadow ate mouse poison and almost died. Well, anyway, I was collecting the sticky traps and putting out new ones, and the last one was
unusually heavy. I looked inside it curiously, then dropped it and screamed. A moment later I felt silly because the thing was dead, but then I do
have this phobia. It was a small tarantula, just a little bigger than the one I'd found in the dog food bag. It startled me in more ways than one;
I'd never before seen two so close together, and I'd never seen one in the house at all before. I saved it and showed it to Matt when he got home,
but he just laughed and said he bet it scared me. He knows how I am about spiders.
Only a few days after that incident, I found the dead mouse. You know, we always get a few mice when the weather starts to turn cold. Usually I trap
them in glue traps and use alcohol to free them and turn them loose in the park. Even Matt thinks I'm crazy, but I just don't like to kill things -
except spiders, of course. Well, this dead mouse was weird. It was dried up, almost mummified, as if it had been dead for weeks or longer, but the
traps had only been out for a week! It bothered me enough that I saved it to show to Matt. It puzzled him too, but he didn't seem to think it was
important, so I threw it away. At the time I didn't make the connection, but maybe it wouldn't have made any difference anyway.
Mitzi was a Miniature Schnauzer, the second one I'd had. People lump them in with Yorkies and poodles and such, but really they're born hunters and
killers. In Germany they still have ratting trials for them, where they put the dog in a pit with a number of rats and the dog who kills the most rats
in the alloted time wins. Mitzi would have done well at it, I thought. She chased mice and birds and anything small that moved. She even chased moths
and flies and sometimes caught one. Anyway, every once in a while a mouse would get inside the walls of the old house and drive her crazy. She could
hear it, and maybe smell it, but she couldn't get to it. She would follow it around, barking like crazy and digging at the walls.
The night after I found the mummified mouse, Mitzi went into her mouse-in-the-wall routine, but Matt and I couldn't hear anything, and this creature
seemed to be moving much slower than the mice usually did. You know, I actually suggested to Matt that it might be a tarantula, but he just laughed
and said tarantulas don't live in houses like some spiders do, and that it was just my phobia acting up. I shrugged and let it go outwardly, but
inwardly I was thinking about the dead one I'd found in the roach motel.
Well, what could he have done to change anything, even if he had believed me then? Later, after it got much worse, I did every thing I possibly could
and nothing helped, so why should I agonize now or try to cast blame? It probably wouldn't have made any difference anyway.
Matt was at home when I found the third one, and it was a good thing for me that he was. I screamed and screamed and he had to hold me for a long
time before I calmed down. How could a big spider like that get into the house, let alone into the toilet? It had drowned, of course, but I hadn't
known that when I first saw it. It was bigger than the other two, maybe even an adult. I'd read that the tarantulas native to Oklahoma are quite
small as tarantulas go, but it looked huge to me at the time.
The next morning I called a pest control company for the first time. He didn't exactly laugh at me, but he very patiently and condescendingly
explained to me that tarantulas don't live in houses. Temporary thing during the late Fall, ma'am, you'll stop seeing them as soon as the weather
turns a bit colder. That's what he told me. I wasn't satisfied - the one in the toilet had scared me too badly - but what could I say to a guy like
that? He was convinced he knew better, and I couldn't have changed his mind.
There was another slow and quiet mouse in the walls that day, and I finally took Mitzi for a long walk in the park to get her away from it. When we
returned it was gone, or at least Mitzi didn't find it again.
A week passed without incident, and then I got another bad scare. This one was stuck to the roach motel under the sink, but it was so big it didn't
even fit inside it. I nearly touched it when I reached in to get the stainless steel cleaner, and it took Matt a very long time to calm me down.
"Under the sink! Under the SINK!" I blubbered over and over. (You'd have thought "under the sink" was some sacred temple it had desecrated, Matt
joked later.) "What if it had still been alive? It could have BITTEN me!!"
Matt reminded me at length that tarantulas aren't all that venomous, not like black widows or brown recluses; it just hurts if they bite you because
they have bigger fangs.
"What a comforting thought!" I shouted back angrily. "Never mind the damn venom! I'd have dropped dead on the spot of a heart attack!"
The next morning I called a different pest control company and told them I had a spider problem. Didn't have to specify what kind, now did I?
Matt's mother kept Mitzi and the canary for a few days, and they sprayed the whole house with the strongest stuff they're allowed to use.
"Kill the biggest spider you'll ever see!" joked the man when I questioned him about the potency. He surely had no idea, but it reassured me just
The day after I picked up Mitzi and the canary, we had our first hard freeze for the winter; it got down below 25 degrees three nights in a row.
Between that and the spraying, I thought surely the spider business was over and even managed to stop inspecting the toilet before I would sit on
Then I returned home from running errands for Matt's mother one afternoon and found Mitzi with a prize. No, it wasn't a spider, but another
mummified mouse. Obviously she hadn't killed it but had found it somewhere, and she seemed to know there was something wrong about it. She wouldn't
play with it and hadn't chewed on it or bitten into it at all; she just laid it at my feet as though it were something she thought I should see.
I saved it for Matt, of course, and made a big fuss about it when he got home. He was of the opinion that the powerful pesticides had killed it, but
I still felt uneasy. How would pesticide cause such emaciation? The mouse appeared to be almost completely dried out, just a shell of skin and fur
over bones. Well, there was nothing else I could say about it; his mind was made up. I resolved to stay on my guard and keep quiet until I had more
Every so often I want to rearrange the furniture, a procedure which Matt hated and always complained about, but eventually he gave in. We were in the
process of doing it that Sunday afternoon, with much grumbling from Matt, when we made a horrifying discovery. Under the couch and recliner there were
three more tarantula bodies! Matt assured me that the fact they were dead proved that the pesticide had killed them all and that I had nothing more to
fear, but I thought I detected a touch of doubt.
Then Matt was the one who got a scare, and for a while I thought he might become convinced that something was going on, but by the next morning he
was over it. He doesn't have the phobia, you see. Matt had run himself a bath and then gotten involved in a TV show and left the water unattended.
When he finally went back to warm up the water and get in the tub, there was a drowned tarantula floating in his bathwater. For a little while it even
shook him up, since it must have been in the bathroom when he ran the water.