I'm not easily scared. Okay, a little scared. Vermin disgusts me, but I'm not afraid of mice. When I was eleven I took four steps into an indoor zoo and a snake slithered between my bare foot and my sandal. Startled by the unexpected sensation? Yes. Scared? No. I'm cool with fish, birds, bats, large groups of teenagers, heights and blood.
Horror movies scare me--somewhat. Few things are more terrifying than the opening sequence of Scream when Drew Barrymore is alone in the house with all those windows--outside lurks the psychopath and she's totally vulnerable. That sh*t freaks me out. I cannot watch it. I couldn't get past the first half hour of I am Legend for the same reason.
Person Alone & Isolated + Possibility of Someone/thing Jumping Out to Attack Them = My Heartrate Dangerously High
Fortunately for me, horror movies are avoidable.
Bad economies, war, famine, nuclear proliferation--all scary things, but I'm not scared of them. I dread and despise them.
But one thing is guaranteed to make me leap and squeal with palpable fear:
Yep, I get that they eat other bugs, are smaller than me, probably won't bite me. I've read and seen Charlotte's Web and that was a piece of fiction, people. Spiders can't spell and they have bloodlust. Spiders scare me. I. Don't. Like. Them.
In college I worked 3rd shift at a Country Kitchen on weekends (an experience that still features in some of my nightmares for many reasons) and one night I arrived back at my dorm around 4:00 a.m. Dog-tired, I pulled back my comforter and there on my sheet was a cluster of black spiders.
My scream woke half the floor. I jumped from foot to foot, screaming, clutching the front of my blue ruffled polyester waitress uniform. Should I try to smush them with my white orthopedic rubber shoe sole? What if my mattress was infested with them? I'd heard the story about the lady who bought the cactus and ended up covered in a nest of tarantulas. Should I leave my room and sleep in the common area?
A giggle from my doorway gave me pause and my buddy M flipped on the light. Plastic spiders. Planted on purpose. To freak me out. Indeed. Ha ha ha. Laughs all around. Everyone returned to bed and I headed down to hall to the bathroom.
You guessed it. More black plastic spiders clustered in the shower.
The following morning I found another half-dozen in my mini-fridge. To my credit, I didn't scream the third time.
Years later I had a job tending bar along a river. Every Monday I had to wash the windows and the building was dripping with webs and those brown barn spiders that get really big and juicy as the summer passes. Well fed on prolific amounts of mosquitoes, gnats and flies, these spiders could get as big as my palm. I am not kidding you. I'd stand on my ladder warily eying them scuttling along the window's edges and I'd brush their webs away with a 4-foot long broom handle. I lived in terror that they'd fall into my hair while I was wiping the windows clean (yes, I'd also heard the story about the lady with the beehive hair-do who had a nest of spiders living on her head). I'd scrub those windows as fast as humanly possible, my entire body leaning back as far as I could. I despised that particular task more than almost anything else I've ever done for money.
Obviously I've learned to control my violent emotions concerning spiders. I'm past going to any and all lengths to destroy any I find nestled in the corners of my ceiling or webbed up along our garage wall. Yet every now and then I'll be walking through our prairies and nearly crash into one of these:
These spiders get HUGE and their webs are wider than me. My scream echoes through the woods and along the creek while I regain my composure and step around to give that arachnid its space.
Spill it, reader. What's your freakin' phobia?