My own little caravan of courage, or, my caravan of little courage

Posted by on June 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm.

There’s been this spider stuck on a web on the staircase of my building. It’s been hanging there for about 10 days, and I was away on vacation for five of them. I do appreciate that the spider, which seems to be caught on some other spider’s web, was sporting black and gold legs in obvious support of Mizzou, but I have this policy it’s violating.

I understand that spiders are an important in the fight against other buglife that can spread disease and annoyance. I also understand that I am never farther than 6 feet from a spider at any given time, according to the old wives’ tale, and I can accept that. But my policy states that when I have to see a spider in my living space, we are dealing with an overpopulation issue. There are plenty of dark corners and crevices that spider could be sitting in where I can’t see it, and I’m going to step on her if she leaves them.

This particular overpopulation occurrence should have been taken care of when I first saw the spider, but it was a bad time for me. It’s this big ugly web in our outdoor staircase that I don’t want to have to walk past, and it’s on the second floor landing of the staircase. I could have gotten a stick and walked back up to the landing to deal with the problem, but when I am leaving my apartment, I am almost always late, and that is not an option.

Then, when I am walking up the stairs, I usually do not remember about the spider until I am looking at it. At that point, I’m usually so tired that I don’t feel like walking back downstairs to get the stick and come up again. This has been compounded by the fact that I just came back from vacation and have been carrying groceries or cleaning supplies or luggage most times I’ve come up the stairs. Tonight was different, though.

Tonight, I remembered where the spider was and picked up a stick before climbing the stairs. It was about 3/4 inch thick and 15 inches long, and I was going to wrap the web up on the stick and throw it back down to the ground. Once I reached the second story landing, however, I paused for a long time. This Mizzou-themed arachnid was not a small creature, and I feared that if I started jousting the web, the owner of that web, which I presumed had to be bigger than it’s prey, would start crawling around where I could see it.

This prospect frightened me because I am, as my overpopulation policy suggests, scared of spiders. I don’t usually freeze up or run away from a spider, but I will vocalize my distaste and sometimes even jump back a step or two. Sometimes, I wonder how I can be so scared of spiders because I have spent so much time around them in scout camps and ravines and even my old apartment, but I am definitely arachnophobic. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. And when I start to picture a big spider, I don’t imagine a tarantula — I skip straight to that huge spider they fight in the Ewok movie, Caravan of Courage.

I had three recurring dreams as a small child, and one of them was about my irrational fear of spiders and conflicting love of Spider-Man. In the dream, I would be running around hiding in my house while Spider-Man tried to entice me to come out and lay down in a suspiciously coffin-like box that he would spray webbing over. It was supposed to protect me or help me do something, I don’t remember exactly since I was only about four, but I remember not wanting to have anything to do with it.

And so there I stood, stick in hand, web in sights, ready to remove the fear-inducing eye-store I’ve dealt with for 5 of the last 10 days. And I almost didn’t do it. Hell, I even considered asking a maintenance guy I saw yesterday to take care of the spider, but would have been too embarrassed. After a moment that probably wasn’t as long as I remember it being, I jabbed the stick into the web, twirled twice, and then tossed the whole thing onto the ground below. The feeling that came over me would best be classified as the heebedy jeebedies, but at least now I know that there wasn’t a bigger spider waiting for me.

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