Thursday, 19 February 2009

The dangers of living with an arachnophobe

I have never minded (living) spiders, and indeed, often find them beautiful. However, due, at least in part, to my neat-freak tendencies, I do not like dead or squished “bugs” of any sort (please don’t show me the front window of an automobile during certain seasons and in certain regions!). My partner, on the other hand does not like spiders, particularly if there is any chance that they might get on him. Since he is uncomfortable being in the same room as a living spider, and I am always concerned that if one stays in the house it might get accidentally squished, our agreement is that if we see a live spider, I get a glass, catch it, slide some paper underneath the glass, carry it outside, and let it go. But if one dies in the house, he has to deal with the “corpse” because I don’t want to see it! The one place this agreement runs into problems is with huntsmen spiders. Being much larger than normal spiders, it is necessary to get a much larger glass to catch them, and I am always afraid that I might accidentally squish some of its legs in the process. Add to that the ones which tend to get into our house are the sort that are a sort of almost translucent orange colour and are so flat that even when alive and well they still look like they’ve been squished, and I’m not as happy dealing with them as I am with the other spiders. They also really like corners and narrow places which are difficult, if not impossible, to get a glass to, and they can move very, very fast, and seem to have a greater awareness of people approaching with a glass than the tiny spiders have. (Bigger brain? Better eyes? Or just anthropomorphising on my part?)
The other day, coming home late one evening, as I pulled into the driveway I noticed a huntsman on the windshield. On the inside. Fortunately, I was alone in the car, so my partner didn’t see it (then). Not having a glass handy, I tried taking the foil-covered window cover (folded), and use it to gently herd the spider towards the open car door. Alas, it fell (or jumped?) off the window and disappeared in the darkness. Hoping that I didn’t accidentally squish it, I went into the house, and hoped that it managed to find its way outside. Alas, it did not. Last night, on our way home from a dance class, as we got into the car and closed the door, I noticed my friend on the steering wheel! So I suggested that my partner get out of the car, which he did with all speed, and I watched the huntsman walk around and around the outside rim of the steering wheel. It did fully three laps during the time it took me to get my door open and find that folded foil-covered window cover. I then set that against the steering wheel so that on the fourth lap the spider walked out onto it, where it suddenly started walking much faster. I only just barely managed to get it outside before it was off the end and away.
I can’t help but wonder about the spider doing laps on the steering wheel. Did it know that it was walking the same path over an over? In nature such shapes don’t come up very often. It would be more likely to walk along a tree branch, which either goes somewhere, or is a dead end. Why did it speed up when it switched to the new surface? Because it was happy to be off that steering wheel, or because it knew I was there and it wanted to get away? And why did I, who have never had a problem with spiders before experience the adrenal surge that accompanies a “flight or fight” situation? Is it just because I knew that he’s frightened of them getting on him, or am I starting to share in his fears? I don’t really need another phobia—being uncomfortable with squished "bugs" is quite enough, thank you!


Callan Bentley said...

Great post... I like the musing about the spider's choice to keep looping the steering wheel... Thanks!

Silver Fox said...

Sounds like you have things pretty well worked out - your respective spider assignments!