I come by my fear of spiders honestly. I grew up in
My dad used to tell the story of how one of my sister’s first words was ‘pidey.’ She’d fix her big hazel eyes in a slightly unfocused way on the area just beside my dad’s left ear, smile dreamily and coo, ‘Pidey’ and enjoy the show as my dad blasted into a blur of swatting, swiping, and anti-spider swearing. If it weren’t for the involuntary shudder I get just thinking about a spider being anywhere near my left ear, I could enjoy this story whole-heartedly.
Yesterday I was helping a colleague write condition reports for some artifacts on display in an exhibit we just got in from
It was a dangerous moment. I was half a second away from coming unglued in a killing imitation of my dad’s reaction to the word ‘pidey’ – and that would have been professionally VERY embarrassing. I was saved when he pointed again and said, “The supports.” I felt like a hot air balloon being deflated. Oooooooooh.
Let me decode. When he pointed and said ‘Spiders’ my first reaction was that there were spiders in the case and they could be damaging the objects. Spiders in the case would be bad because that would mean opening the case and dealing with them. Ew, ew, ew. Not to mention there would be damage to the artifacts, which is always disheartening. (You have no idea how grateful I am that this was indeed my first reaction – it speaks well of my professionalism.)
About .2 seconds after that whole thought process my inner freak-out was screeching “Spiders… FROM
When he followed up by saying, “The supports,” it all became clear. For reasons that really should be reconsidered, certain 3-prong brass or copper supports in the field of museum display building are called ‘spiders.’ Okay, so they have multiple legs. They don’t have 8 legs, and the name has terrible connotations for some of us. I really think they could be called something a lot less fear-inspiring, such as ‘tripods’ or ‘three leg metal supports.’ Call me creative.
Last night I found myself watching Cynthia Nixon guest star on the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU. I regretted that as soon as her spider-loving scientist character said in a way that was meant to be delighted but filled my very soul with horror, “Did you know that you’re never more than 6 feet away from a spider?” She smilled dreamily and seemed to focus somewhere near my left ear. It was so uncalled for.
I will spend a lot of energy these next few days, eyeing the six foot perimeter around my body for any encroaching spiders. And doing my level best to convince myself that L&O is a work of FICTION so I don’t have to believe them.