Spiders and Monsters
By: Lauren Derrick
Editor's Note: Though we normally publish on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of a month, we'll sometimes post a special publication in another week, highlighting something special, such as Halloween? Enjoy!
Arachnophobia might not be quite the right word. But it is a word that lives in roughly the same neighborhood as the way I truly feel about spiders.
Those unholy eight-legged abominations, those quick little blood-thirsty shadows that sink into the cracks of baseboards and window wells, those inhuman tricksters that hatch out of tiny eggs by the hundreds—they terrify me. Two more legs than most insects, as if they needed those, seem to give them extra speed. I justify my terror by citing spider venom, though if I’m honest, non-venomous spiders scare me just as much. The fact that there could be, and likely are, several of these little fiends hiding in the house at any given time fringes my life with a horror-film level of suspense. The thought of their egg sacs hidden somewhere in the depths of my basement, ready to unleash an army of little micro-terrors into my home, sickens me. And the very notion of one of these horrid things crawling across my bare foot makes my spine freeze upright.
I know, somewhere deep down, that they don’t mean me any harm. I’ve heard people say that spiders are good, because they kill and eat problematic insects like mosquitoes and flies. My brain knows that a spider is just a living thing trying to make its way in the world, that it won’t have any reason to hurt me if I give it space. I think there’s a part of my brain that knows that. It doesn’t matter.
Some clever person thought they could create a “cute” CG spider to help people like me have empathy for arachnids and be less frightened. They gave it big shiny eyes and an adorable toddler voice. It didn’t work. My gut instinct, my primal reaction, was still, “Ew, gross! Destroy it!”
When I know there’s a spider there, I see it out of the corner of my eye. I try not to look at it, but I still see it. I try to read or do my work, but all I can think about is the awful crawling thing under the desk and how far away it is from my foot. I lose all ability to focus. If it’s as big as a dime, I can’t come within four feet of it. Sometimes I scream. In humiliation, I come to request that my husband destroy the offending interloper. He obliges.
The worst thing about it is how tiny and vulnerable they are. I am at least a hundred times bigger than any spider I’ve ever found, and their tiny, soft bodies mash easily under the rubber tread of a sneaker. (I don’t often have the nerve to squish the small ones with my fingers or without shoes.) Their guts smear on the floor, and there’s never enough there to justify the anxiety coursing through my blood.
They come into my house only because they’re looking for food, for warmth, for a better life. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across one that actually had any capacity to harm me. But I cannot function in a room where I know there is a spider. It has to die. And I suppose, in the end, that’s what I hate most about spiders.
Spiders prove that I am the monster.