Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Arachnophobia - isn't that word just gross?

I come by my fear of spiders honestly. I grew up in Texas where there are lots of big ol’ ugly and sometimes poisonous spiders. Then I lived in Australia where the spiders seem to be competing for some sort of title in the big ol’ and ugly categories. And I inherited my fear from my father who gets as wigged out by spiders as I do. (I share that same fear with my sister. We’ve had a few spider-fighting adventures together. You’d think having a sister by your side would make you braver but, um, no. It just seemed to make us a lot shriek-y-er.)

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 Texas. In non-museum speak that translates as: we were checking to make sure that all the Texas museum’s stuff got here without breaking. As I was looking at the stuff one of our other colleagues, a guy who is very good at making stuff and displaying objects in such a way that you don’t notice the NASA strength bands of steel holding it up, came over to inspect the display. He pointed into the case and said casually, “Spiders.”

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 TEXAS!!!! AAAAARGH!!!!” I was this close to continuing the rest of my side of the conversation from the ceiling.

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.


Pumpkin said...

Spiders...GAAAAAAAAAAH....they give me the heebie jeebies every time!!!!

I have even tried to watch the film 'Arachnophobia' (silent scream)with husband in the room....but no.......he tells me that all 5ft 6inches of me climbing into his lap and shaking with the ferocity of a cement fixer, is not the way he prefers to watch his evening I totally get the spidey''s not nice!!!

Perhaps they could call the 3 legged things, the 'doodahs' or 'doofers' or my personal favourite, 'thing-a-me'....I always find those excellent substitutes for things that are otherwise evilly named!!!


Pumpkin said...

Hey there! It's my 30th birthday today, and I've been doing the rounds of my favourite reads, dropping off virtual cocktails!
For you I have the choice of a Vanilla Cosmopolitan or a Blue Champagne!!
Have a brilliant weekend lass!!!!

Big Kitty Fun said...

I am hear to vouch for the CRAZY that is Lala + Pideys. Once, one floated down behnd her head when she was at my place.

I thought we were going to have to medicate her.

Here is the secret to our friendship: sometimes I look Lala dead in the eye and say v. seriously, "do not look at me." And she holds still, and does not look until I give the go ahead.

Works for Pideys, and anytime you need to mess with your eyes. Y'know, contacts, mascara, CRAZY things.