I’ve had uncontrollable goose bumps around spiders ever since I moved to Australia twelve years ago. It just so happens that each time one of those 8-legged shadows is around, every hair on my body sticks up as though it’s just dropped twenty degrees.
I’ve had several uncanny incidents with these unpredictable and cunning creatures over the years that has lead me to develop what some of us arachnophobics refer to as “spider sense” – the almost sixth sense that there is a spider lurking somewhere in the vicinity.
One particular night in mid January a few years ago, I was getting ready to go for a late night road trip to see a concert. As I was grabbing my bag to dash out, I noticed several tiny spots on my wall. As my mum and I had been renting a microscopic apartment at the time, any markings on the pristine walls were an issue. A big issue. After recovering from my small heart attack, I leant in close to examine what mayhem had been unleashed on my calmingly cream walls. The closer I got, the more shape I started to see – including legs. Eight legs. Backing away in panic, the horror started to set in as I realised that there was not just one of these tiny demons. My wall had become a canvas of scattered black dots, all dispersing from one corner of the ceiling. Great. Just as I’m hurrying out of the door.
So after what turned out to be probably the worst night of my existence, due to relationship woes and some clearly dodgy karma, I returned home to my spider-baby-infested nightmare. Yes it had occurred to me that by the time I got home, I probably wouldn’t be able to find half of the devil spawn, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the hell that stood before me when I swung open the door at midnight and flicked on my bedside light, to find five out of the six surfaces of my cubed room speckled in huntsman offspring. Indeed I was finally starting to see the benefits to mum’s incessant nagging for me to tidy my floor… But then again, now I know how much baby spiders love to bury themselves snuggly into various clothes, shoes and bags!
Throwing caution to the wind (or succumbing to my tiredness and depressing mood), I curled myself awkwardly into a small patch of virgin spider bed. It’s lucky I’m a yogaholic… Never has the phrase “sleep with one eye open” been more appropriate. As I lay there, thanking the universe for ruining my entire life, knowing that minuscule beasts were dropping all over me, I wondered why I hadn’t moved to the couch…
It dawned on me at some point that I was likely in the same 4×4 m room with a huntsman nest and I had zero idea where the mother of this tribe was… There was definitely a massive mumma spider somewhere in the room. Overnight I couldn’t contain the goosebumps and my hair follicles must have broken. Perhaps just paralysed with fear, I stayed put and plotted my plan of exorcism for the morning.
The next day was a long one consisting of many showers and repetitive sweeping of my floor. The idea of any of these baby spiders maturing into full-sized monsters was enough to make me leap when the day came a few weeks later when we moved out of the breeding ground.
Since then, two years passed relatively spider-free. Considering the new house was located in a bushy area, I realised that something was up. The absence of spiders for this long just kept increasing the probability of my coming face to face with a very threatening one.
Then, a few weeks ago, my blissful two-year spider detox undid itself over a period of two minutes. As I was getting out of my car after a night out, I felt the summer breeze brush over me, accompanied by a moth or bug fluttering over my hand as I closed the car door. I recoiled into the middle of the street when I looked down and saw that the biggest huntsman in existence had just crawled over my hand on the car door. Repulsed, I ran into the house, leaving the anarchist on my car door and having decided that the only solution was to burn down the car in the morning. When I walked past the oven, I saw that there was leftover pizza that mum had clearly had for dinner. Still shakey and with low blood sugar, I took an ambitious bite. Wow that’s spicy. Wow that has the consistency of meat. Wow, remember I’m a committed vegetarian. So it was the first time I’d chewed meat in several years and it was odd. The not-so-good kind of odd. I ran to the bin to spit it out, but was alas still suffering from the intensity of the spicy salami in the moments that followed. I downed a cup of water but it did nothing. I needed something to counteract the burn, so reached for the bread loaf, and what crawled off as I opened it? Another spider!!! They had clearly come back to finish off some sort of vendetta and another sleepless night followed.
Come daylight, the car looked fine but, rather cruelly, that night had been when the seal on my car door had decided it didn’t want to be of service anymore, and politely detached itself from the edge of the door. Reassuring.
By the time I’d accepted that I would have to drive my possibly huntsman-claimed car, it had been a few weeks. On the way back from a morning swimming class, I was sitting at the traffic lights unscrambling the letters on the license plate in front of me. As a one in a million chance, today was the first day I hadn’t had my window rolled down, which was lucky because today was also the day that Mr Huntsman decided to show himself for round two of our feud. He crawled slowly up the outside of the driver’s seat window, revealing his big, cream belly, and up onto the roof. I had lurched over towards the passenger seat in terror, but by the time the lights switched to green, I had composed myself enough to hold the wheel.
Sixty seconds later I was parked outside the house. That’s when it hit me. I didn’t know if the spider was still on the roof, and if so, how close to the door it was. Somehow, this eight-legged mastermind had not only outsmarted me, a science graduate, but trapped me forever inside the car simply by being elusive. Farewell sanity. Farewell world. Change my address.
I did end up managing to escape with a singular, frantic leap. Yes, the spider may still very well have set up camp somewhere in my vehicle and yes, my hair follicles don’t know what’s hit them every time I turn on the engine, reach for the bread, flick on a light, turn a corner, open a door or move a curtain.
There goes a peaceful life.