This is the story of how I learned what real fear is.
I arrived home with a full bladder, so I visited the bathroom posthaste. For some reason I looked to my left as I sat there, checking to make sure my shower was still a shower, I suppose. What if I hadn’t? What if I had went about my business, flushed that toilet and moved on? I’ll tell you what: I probably wouldn’t have seen the maw of hell that waited for me there.
It crouched. It clacked. It’s eight legs cackled at me.
There sat the biggest spider I have ever seen that wasn’t on the internet or Jumanji.
I leapt to my feet mid-pee, yelling—nay, wailing—in shock. The spider scuttled evilly out of sight as the shower curtain settled back into place.
I mewled at it. I wrung my hands and said “Ngyaaah,” but the Spider Hell Beast of the Underworld did not commit Hara-kiri. I then attempted to approach, rip the curtain back to expose the Hell Beast and burn it to death with the potency of my bravery.
Instead I quailed under the curious gaze of the owls on my shower curtain and mewled again.
So I ran to my closet and put on my rain boots. They have blue and green stripes on them, and they usually make me feel happy. They are also my spider-stomping boots. My bravery boots.
So shod, I darted to the shower faucet, yanked it to high blast and scurried away to watch from the safety of the doorway. Nothing. When the Hell Beast didn’t die in the watery cascade, I filled a glass full of water and hurtled it into the tub from behind the shower curtain. A brimming glass of water! Two glasses! A third! It finally washed into my drain—and then rose again, scuttling toward me.
With a shriek of fear I filled the glass a fourth time and dashed the water against the spider, breaking its legs. It drowned, dear reader, in a mass of broken legs. In moments of cruel victory, SOP is to engage in strutting. I usually crow over the slain body of my tiny enemy to reassert my dominance over small things that are inexplicably terrifying.
I was still shaking in my not-at-all-proverbial boots, so instead I reached a tentative hand forward to draw the curtain aside. Just to be sure I really killed—
There was a second spider.
The cascades of water, both from the shower and from me had done nothing to it. Hell Beast Number Two stared me down and clacked its enormous pincers at me. (Probably)
Near tears I scurried back to my closet hysterically muttering, “Hair spray! Hair spray!” This has worked before on smaller spiders. I could only pray it worked on spiders that could wrap their legs around my eyeball. I mustered what courage I had stored in my boots and sprayed an onslaught of formaldehyde and alcohol, yelling incoherent pleas for it to die.
Hell Beast Two was stunned for all of two seconds. Then it shook off the chemicals and ran for it.
I can’t remember what I did then; the fear took me. But when I emerged from my delirium, both hell beasts lay dead in the drain. In shock, I wandered into the other room, and took off my spider-stomping boots. I sat on my bed and succumbed to the fear.
When I regained my ability to think I regretted taking off the boots. I couldn’t leave the bed because spiders. I couldn’t leave the room because spiders, and I couldn’t stay because spiders. I needed my boots back on but I definitely couldn’t do that because spiders inside my boots.
Stranded on my bed, I wrapped myself in the protection of looking up spider prevention tactics, which I will share with you now for the betterment of the human race:
1. Citrus. You can rub lemon peels on your baseboards and spiders hate it.
2. Lemon-scented pledge works too! So does lemon-scented Raid, for the truly terrified (me).
3. Cats. I am getting one. And it’s mostly because I want a cat. But I also want a feline predator in the house.
4. Vinegar. Personally I can’t deal with the smell, but it’s a cheap solution.
5. Lots of screaming and a pair of spider-stomping boots.