Ever the deep thinker, I wondered … why is this? Why is it that some people love spiders and others hate them? Is it childhood related? Did some mothers coo over spiders the way others do over kittens and puppies?
As you already know, I hate spiders. Hate them with a passion, but they love me.
Ever since I was a kid, spiders were attracted to me. They could be anywhere in the house and I would be the one to find them.
For this reason I came to dread going to bed at night. My bedroom seemed to be a hotspot for spiders.
Every night after climbing the stairs and switching on the light in my room, I would scan the ceiling and walls, especially the corners. If I saw a spider, I screamed.
Downstairs my mom would signal my dad saying “Gust, go on, she found another one.” My dad would come upstairs with a slipper to kill the beast, with my mom in his wake. As much as my mother hated spiders too, she couldn’t resist seeing one.
One night it went horribly wrong. As I switched on the light in my room, I came face to face with the biggest, blackest spider I had ever seen. She had one leg on the doorframe and one leg on the light switch (easily spanning four inches), and not only had my nose been close to the beast, my fingers had been millimeters away from it.
This realization brought on a bone chilling scream and downstairs my mom, dad and brother could hear that scream was different from all others. All three of them flew upstairs where they found me, rigid, ghostly pale and not breathing.
When yelling my name and shaking me didn’t help, my brother took it upon himself to slap me back into consciousness.
Years later, when my family heard of my plans of going to South Africa they frowned. Did I know of the huge spiders on the African continent? Funny enough, except for one occasion, I never saw a live spider.
I did see quite a few dead one though, huge beasts as big as dinner plates, mounted behind glass. Afraid of spiders as I am, the first time I saw a baboon spider in a souvenir shop, the creature fascinated me. I slowly approached and looked at the beast from a safe distance.
The shop owner, seeing my interest, lifted the framed spider off the wall and presented it to me with the words “Would you like a closer look?”
This action we both came to regret. The shock of the spider in such close proximity to me sent me stumbling backward, knocking down a few wooden Zulu dancers, African tribe masks and wood carvings of Johannesburg.
Now back to the one occasion that I did see a live spider. It was sitting on the drapes in Dieter’s room. I knew one of us would have to kill the beast before it disappeared into the folds of the material.
I looked at Dieter and he looked at me … who was courageous enough to do the dirty deed? Not him from the looks of it, so it would have to be me. Except, I was a total chicken were it came to killing spiders.
As we both stood there, shivering in horror, we knew we had to come up with a plan.
a. Squash the spider between the folds of the curtain.
b. Brush the spider down on the floor and step on it.
c. Get a neighbor to kill the beast.
We rejected a) and b) as we were both too chicken to do that. Getting a neighbor was out of the question too. It was late and none of them would appreciate being woken up.
To cut a long story short, we decided to vacuum up the spider. I dragged the vacuum into Dieter’s room and removed the foot of it.
“I’ll switch on the power, you hold the pipe as close to the spider as possible without frightening it,” I said to Dieter.
“Me!” he said. “Why don’t you hold the pipe and I switch on the power?”
I needed a moment to think about that. “Because it’s your room,” I said.
Knowing he couldn’t win, he climbed on his bed and pointed to pipe of the vacuum cleaner at the curtain. When the pipe was close enough I switched on the power and … sssssswww the spider got sucked in.
With the vacuum still running, we both stood there, shivering like a couple of idiots. But we had done it, we had gotten rid of a spider all by ourselves.
And then we did something else … we got rid of the vacuum cleaner. I dragged the machine through the house, opened the front door, and threw it out.
When my friend Joan came around the next morning she asked me what the vacuum was doing out on the lawn.
“We vacuumed up a spider last night,” I informed her. “Both Dieter and I were too afraid to squash it, so we sucked it up. It will suffocate in the dust, right?”
“No Conny,” Joan said. “Spiders love dust. You sent it to spiders’ paradise. It will thrive in there and maybe even have babies.”
That was it. The vacuum was put with the trash and I bought a new machine.