My Room 101
You want to torture me by putting my head in a cage full of hungry rats? Pfft, bring it. But spiders? Then, we’ll talk.
I am terrified of spiders and scorpions. Arachnophobia, it is called. Ironically, I really dig the movie. They are hideous, yet fascinating to look at from a safe distance. A viewing from Ft. Knox would be preferable.
I have always been afraid of them. Nothing specific ever happened to justify that fear, but regardless, it is there. My husband, on the other hand, loves them, as well as scorpions. He wants them for pets. Actually, there are a lot of decidedly uncuddly creatures he would like for his very own. He is like Hagrid—the creepier the better. When I was in the museum La Specula in Italy, I was doing a sketch of a tarantula—a dead one, no less—that was encased in glass. I was even getting creeped out by that. What’s wrong with me? Don’t answer that.
Really, if I chose to, I could put these critters into perspective. I am hundreds of times larger than them, they are more scared of me blah blah blah. Yet, I just can’t shake the idea that in some intangible way, they are compromising my safety. If they are in my vicinity standing there unimpeded, “breathing” my air, threatening to invade my personal space, and, perish the thought, make contact with my precious skin, I feel . . . really, I don’t know what I feel. It is a fear of the unknown, perhaps, or of the violated skin turning gangrenous. Whatever my issue is, I know in my right mind the likelihood of being harmed is slim to none. Scorpions are another matter, but those fuckers are not the focus of my despair, as they are not indigenous to my section of the country.
I was at the local aquarium one time with my husband. As we were rounding off the day browsing in the gift shop, I passed by a display of boxes containing RC Tarantulas—remote control powered synthetic spiders. For $24.95, you too could have innocuous exposure to those frightening abominations. This was basically what they looked like:
This is the reason I don’t believe in God.
If I were ever to rue one action, it would be this: I picked up the package and showed it to my husband. Much to my chagrin, he had to have it. He just had to blow the money on it. I knew when his eyes lit up I would regret it greatly on many levels. I could hear the wheels turning as he imagined our dog and cat’s response to it. Great. Lovely, and as much as I don’t like to be wasteful, I was hoping the dog would break it upon first pounce.
When we got home, the first thing he set to do was to assemble it. We were out of AA batteries, so he pulled them out of the television’s remote control. He was bound and determined. Yes indeed, the animals responded favorably to it. The dog leaped upon it, took it in her mouth, and shook it. That damn thing was appearing to be indestructible. Shit. One bright spot was that he acknowledged we couldn’t have one for a pet, as it wouldn’t stand a chance against the dog. After what seemed like hours of amusement, my husband told me to lay on my back. Not asked, demanded. Nya-uh. Knowing how he is, I knew what he had in mind and he wouldn’t let up until he got it. Get your minds out of the gutter, people. He wanted to let the thing crawl on me like some Peter Brady-esque nightmare. I felt the first stirrings of anxiety. He thrust the monster in my face; I grabbed his wrist so that I could have some semblance of control. I touched it. The fur was coarse, and its underbelly was plastic. Yes, the thing was fake. I was assured of that. Then, why was my finger hovering over the red panic button?
I finally mustered up the strength to go horizontal on the cold, heartless, tile floor. I wished it could yield to my weight and suck me in to some alternate-reality sans eight-legged creatures. Upon first contact with my clothed leg . . . “OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!” At that moment, I felt my response was justified. I tried again. “GAAAAAAAAAAA!” Okay, maybe the third time’s a charm. It was, kind of, as I let it crawl on me for a few seconds before whacking the beast off me. I thought I appeased my darling husband. No. He wanted to put it on my face. The unspeakable horror at the thought caused the contents of my bowels to settle to the bottom. Not really, but I was frightened. Eventually, I let the thing hover over my face, perhaps touching me briefly. Actually, a quantum clock would be needed to register the amount of time it contacted my skin. I gave one last blood-curdling scream before I scrambled to my feet and ran to the safe confines of my delightful walk-in closet. My hubby was left kneeling on the floor, cackling maniacally.
We all have our Achilles’ heel.
Incidentally, I have this odd theory. Tarantulas look like they smell like cracked pepper. I don’t know why; perhaps it is due to the coarseness and color of their hair—peppery. However, I am not about to conduct the research to prove or debunk my hypothesis. I’ll just believe it to be true unless I am told—told, not shown—otherwise.