There is currently a huge huntsman spider at large in our living room. I know it’s there, because we lost it last night, trying to catch it with a jar or chase it out the door with a broom, and I hermetically sealed the room for the rest of the night, in a bid to ensure it didn’t come out and wander the hallways, or worse, the bedrooms, in the night. Despite that, I still turned the floodlights on every time I ventured into the hallway, to make sure it wasn’t lurking somewhere, waiting to wreak havoc in some horrible, arachnoid way.
You may have gathered that I have something of a problem with spiders. Nothing big, just a HUGE problem. My husband, Andrew, has been trying for years to desensitize me, by exposing me first to jumping spiders, which even I have to admit are pretty cute, and then gradually training me to take bigger spiders outside. Anything not demonstrably poisonous gets escorted courteously out of our abode, and politely invited to take up residence SOMEWHERE ELSE YOU EIGHT LEGGED HELL FIEND!!!
Andrew calls it terrapy.
In fact this terrapy started years before I even met Andrew. When I was about 16, during a long late night phone call with a dear friend, I spotted a huntsman on the wall. My friend was forgiving, and once he regained his hearing he spent what seemed like hours coaxing me into dealing with the spider myself. I vividly recall him patiently talking me through the process of finding a weapon, getting close to the dreadful beast, and, eventually, after endless pep talks and encouragement, squashing it flatter than a tissue in a trouser press. Remarkably, my friend’s hearing recovered a second time, and he pronounced himself deeply impressed with my achievement.
Sadly my parents, who had been soundly asleep before the onset of the cataclysm, were somewhat less thrilled.
It was an excellent start on my training, and before long I was taking even large, hairy huntsman spiders outside. Admittedly they were firmly encased in something strong, like a jam jar, and I was screaming the entire time, but they were alive and in good condition, save for their hearing. This was a big step forward for someone who had been hitherto unable to get close enough to squash them with a shoe on a ten foot pole (I leave the obvious pun as an exercise for the reader).
Sadly, I clearly have a long way to go, as after this latest house guest disappeared I was demanding that it should receive no second chances. It has wisely chosen not to reappear, but I suspect it is lurking somewhere, waiting until I am least prepared and ill defended. There is something remarkably spine chilling about those 8 legs and the way they move. They create an altogether unhealthy fascination, and I am extremely jumpy knowing that there is an alarmingly large one roaming around free in close proximity to my bed. I am now considering burning the house down, just to be on the safe side.
On the bright side, although we live in a world populated with fearsome, loathesome beasts such as these, we also live in a world heavily populated with friends who will calmly, patiently, and affectionately talk you through facing and defeating your fears. For that, I’ll tackle any number of spiders.