A few days ago while putting gas in my car I spotted a spider on the pump. Not just any spider, but the worst kind: big, black, and hairy. It looked at me and I knew that I would not be able to complete my task. I asked the attendant in the little glass cage if he would help me and he graciously agreed. While he topped off my tank and replaced my gas cap I sat in the car with the windows rolled up. I let my window down a crack to say, “Thank you” to the nice man and he casually asked how long I’d had arachnophobia. My reply, “Since I was a preschooler” prompted him to say, “WOW! That long!” So, now I drove home not only frightened but insulted by my hero.
For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of spiders. More specifically, I am terrified that spiders will crawl down my collar. My reflexive action upon seeing a spider, no matter how small, is to pull in my neck and hunch up my shoulders making my collar as tight as possible.
Lest you think I have entomophobia, (that is what you were thinking, right?) allow me to present just a few photos as evidence that I love critters. In addition to the grasshopper above, here is a caterpillar which was recently chomping on my rosebush. I removed it by hand and placed it in my fairy garden where it could eat to its heart’s content. One day a couple of months ago, I stopped while shopping to photograph this cute inchworm on a flower near the entrance of a grocery. I think that she is adorable and I would have brought her home as a pet had she not looked so happy there. Speaking of taking bugs and worms home, here’s a cicada that I found on the front porch and it is currently in my living room. Okay, I said that I would always be honest with you, dear readers, so, I must admit that he was dead when I found him, but still, he is here in my house. He’s just too handsome to toss outside. I really do not fear bugs. Okay, honesty check again, there is one that bug that I loathe as much as spiders. To me, the centipede is simply an elongated spider, but I do realize that it has more than eight legs, so does not qualify.
Many years ago, while reflecting upon my childhood, I recalled a day at Vacation Bible School at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Shelby County, near Anderson County where we lived. The day’s lessons, songs and Bible verses were vague memories, but I suddenly remembered our play period vividly. I suppose it is not unusual for children to remember recess, but this was different, in that we preschoolers were allowed to play in the cemetery that surrounded two sides of that country church. We respectfully ran among tombstones, carefully avoiding stepping on the graves, until a little boy noticed a small round hole on the top of one. He inspected closely and declared that he could hear something inside! Although frightened, we all lined up to take turns listening. When it was finally my turn, I knelt down and put my ear to the hole. He was right, there was a loud roaring sound coming from the hole and before I knew it there were millions of baby spiders on the ground and my cotton dress. They were on my shoulders and arms and, worst of all, they were crawling down inside my collar. With this horrifying memory, finally I knew why I have arachnophobia, a pathological fear or loathing of spiders.