Does Whatever A Spider Can

22 April, 2006 at 1:18 pm (doric)

I should be strong, but the culture of self-actualization says otherwise. Be true to yourself, it says, be at peace with who you are. Old world thinking instead claims that through will power we shape our existence. Instead of making peace, we used to struggle. “All progress is made by unreasonable men,” quoth Bernard Shaw. That sort of thing. But, instead, I am soft and the product of my culture (see! that in and of itself is a self-actualizing statement), and find it difficult to rail against the dying of the… something. Pride, perhaps.

What is all this musing in aid of? Arachnophobia. I have found myself, as time passes, being increasingly okay with my squeamishness towards chitinous scrabbly things. I am no longer embarrassed about it. I don’t need to display a show of strength and fortitude, I don’t need to be macho. Instead I can shriek and cringe and shudder at the thought or presence of something with far too many legs and an alien physiology. And I can lash out in revulsion at their fear-inducing structure and squash the hell out of them with impunity, despite the fact that the collapse of their exoskeleton and the subsequent liquidation of their organs does little to make the revulsion go away.

However, this acceptance has also allowed the fears and feelings associated with coming into contact with such arthropods to magnify. By allowing them to occur, by not repressing them, they now hold full sway. Which becomes a problem when, as happened to me last week, one is in the middle of a long stretch of highway and suddenly notices a spider walking merrily across the inside on the windshield. Such a situation causes instant fear-based tension, revealing itself in symptoms that would look to any of my fellow highway travelers like a particularly rigid case of white-knuckled white line fever. Because, I needed to do three things simultaneously: 1) Not be overcome with a violent case of twitches and shudders, all of which would require me releasing my hands from the steering wheel, 2) finding an exit, quickly, and 3) following the movement of the spider so that when I finally pulled off the highway I could kill it with extreme prejudice. It’s difficult to focus on a small, dark creature on the inside surface of a transparent object you’re also supposed to be looking through, and so number two was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as number one, because the more I focused on the spider, the mode massive shudders kept coursing with pounding tides up my spinal column.

Phil Jupitus' QUADROPHOBIAOnce on the side of the road, I discovered that due to the sloped glass of the windshield, I had difficulty squashing the little bugger, and so tried to transport him from the car so that I could jump up on down on him once he was on the large, flat expanse on non-sloped pavement my car was pulled over next to. But in removing him from the car, there was a moment when I lost track of him. He was no longer on the windshield, and not longer on the object with which I was removing him from the car, which meant he was either safely outside or somewhere on the floor of the car, or someplace generally hidden away. I squished another passing spider that had nothing to do with the proceeding, simply out of frustrated retribution. But this has not prevented me from interpreting every stray brush of hair, fabric, or whatever inside my car as, “AAAAAHHH! AAAAHHH!! THE SPIDER”S BACK! AND IT’S ON ME!!!” My own little pathetic personal version of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In attempting to allay this syndrome, I was listening to Phil Jupitus’ excellent stand-up bit on spiders from his Quadrophobia album, but all his talk of spiders and wriggling legs and the like just made the onset of the Phantom Arachnid (Not Insect) Contact attacks more frequent and more vivid. I think it’s time to go back to steely resolve, and none of this twenty-first century “be true to your pansy instincts” nonsense.

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