Can I Burn My Couch?

Sweet Optimus Prime, I hate spiders. I loathe spiders. The day I never saw another spider in my life would be the best day of my life.

I have a phobia of spiders. I have irrational fears over just about everything living thing on this planet (including social phobias that make me wary of people); but spiders trigger something way more visceral than just a fear.

Spider terrify me. They paralyse me.

I live in the great Southern Land, and the spiders here, while generally no more poisonous than your average northern hemisphere spider, they do get large enough to steal children and small dogs. And the one that really gets me going is the huntsman spider.

You might know the huntsman under another name: clock spider. Now, I’m not going to look up any reference links for you, that’s your problem. You see, my phobia of these damned creatures of Satan has gotten so bad that seeing spiders on a computer monitor sends me into a panic. Thinking about having to look at a photo of a spider sends a chill down my spine.

Luckily, I haven’t encountered a huntsman that big yet, but I have run across more than my fair share of spiders that stretch a good four inches from leg tip to leg tip. And it’s driving me up the wall.

You see, it’s four in the morning. I’m exhausted, I’m hungry. I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t dare walk around my house right now. This is why:

Last night I was getting ready for bed. I walked to my bedroom to turn the light on (because of spiders, I never walk around without a light on, or some kind of torch). It’s been a touch cool, so I was going to cross over to the external door (my bedroom has a pair doors opening out onto the driveway) and shut the glass door that I leave propped open for air flow. I hear a kind of thunk sound. The sound of something hitting the screen door.

I freeze. I suppose it could be a moth, but it sounded too large. It could have been one of my mice knocking some part of their cage, that would make a similar thin metal-on-thin metal noise; but directionality really seemed to be from the door, and the cages were behind me. I turn on the external light to take a look.

At first I see nothing. I start to think that maybe it was nothing after all. But then I see it. Between the screen and the closed side of the glass doors (it’s a pair, but I only open the second door when it’s really hot) is an adult huntsman (one of those that’s about 4″ across). It feels kinda like my heart has stopped in my chest.

I have a theory that even the adult ones can contort themselves to get through the incredibly narrow gap between the screen doors and their frame. I don’t know if it’s true, I only know that they keep getting inside. But this one isn’t inside, it’s still outside. I have an advantage.

The core of my phobia is about touching things that are icky. I’m terrified by the idea of my skin coming in contact with a spider or cockroach or slug or anything like that. Terrified to the point that I can barely even push a DEAD cockroach away from me with a broom in case it leaps up and touches me. I’ve spent countless humid summer nights with the blankets pulled over my head cause there was an insect in my room and I was too afraid to get rid of it, and terrified it would land on me. But I digress, as always.

I keep (at least) two cans of surface spray (as opposed to bug spray, this stuff is supposed to stick to surfaces and poison the bugs that crawl past it) in the house. One in my bedroom, one in the living area. This is so I don’t have to take my eyes off an invading spider if I can help it (they have a nasty habit of crawling away when you’re not looking; and the only thing worse than being able to see a spider is not being able to see a spider). So, I grabbed the nearest spray can and hosed it through the screen. It crawled away into the darkness. Maybe it came back later. Maybe it’s sitting outside my door right now, listening to me type, plotting its revenge. I’ll never know.

So, I go back out into the lounge room. I’m upset, but thankful I looked before opening the screen to get the door. It might have run inside while the screen was open. Or it might have been trapped, and frightened me in the morning. Or it might have been trapped and run inside in the morning when I opened the door again. None of these are acceptable options. Death is the preferable option. It leaving is merely tolerable. Hell, I’m thankful the spawn of satan fell down the fucking screen so I heard it.

Anyway, I was going back out to the living area to turn that light off now that I had the bedroom light on. I notice that the candle I’d lit that evening was still burning and I change direction to put it out. The only light on is the one over my desk, so it’s fairly shadowy. I see something on the floor. Fuck me dead, it’s another fucking spider. Not quite as big. Big e-fucking-nough.

I still have the spray can in my hand. I’d forgotten to put it down in my agitated state. I spray that fuck too. It runs around a bit, and I’m doing my stay-the-fuck-away-from-me dance where I try to chase it and spray it again and again, while keeping a respectable distance away, and out of its direct path.

Eventually it crawled under the couch, where I presume it came from. It came out again, it looked pretty groggy, but it disappeared again. I’m worried that it didn’t die. Sometimes you can’t tell. Sometimes these things are fucking Superman and you need a kryptonite cricket bat to kill them (I sprayed a small one, once, less than 1.5″ across; I followed it around for something like ten minutes before it finally went into its death throes).

There was nothing for it. I had to assume (hope) it died. I put out the candle and the light and go back to my bedroom. Spray still in hand, and I have at the door. I spray the screen all around the frame and I spray the floor and I spray where the two screens meet. Then I spray some more for good measure. I go into the hall and spray around the door that leads in from the garage (I hate that damn door – cockroaches are always coming in under it; fortunately they die when they walk across the spray).

I close the curtains (I never did shut the door), and get on the bed. I’m too strung out to sleep. I don’t want to turn off the light. I figure that there was definitely one spider hanging out down here, creeping out after dark. If I turn this light off, how many more will come sneaking out? I play around with twitter and I read the fora. I play some Fruit Ninja.

I concede on the issue of the light. It’s late. It’s impolite. I keep playing with my iPhone. I google “how to keep spiders out of the house” (the consensus is mostly “be a better housekeeper”, they like places that are dusty; apparently they also hate strongly-scented oils like citrus and eucalyptus). Finally, I need to go to the bathroom.

First, I use my iPhone to check that the light switch is spider-free. It is, so I turn the light on. Then I peer over the edge of the bed to make sure there are no spiders on the floor. Truth be told, I do this almost every damn day, I just search more intently when there’s been a recent spider incident. I grab the spray can in case the one from my couch decided to go for a walk and I go to the door. I peer out into the hallway. Again, I do this every night, but it’s usually just checking the floor to make sure I won’t step on one. Tonight I check the floor and the walls and the ceiling, in both directions.

The toilet door is almost directly opposite the bedroom. I step across the hall and inspect the toilet. I turn that light on too. I check behind the door (I live alone, I don’t close the door just to use the amenities).

I don’t check quite as thoroughly on the way back. I get back into bed, turn out the light, pull the covers up to my chin (holy crap, I’m tired; I just tried to type “chin up to my covers”). I play games on my iPhone. I get tired. I start thinking that I might be able to sleep. But it’s been over an hour and I need to pee again (apparently going to the toilet a gazzilion times is now part of my “going to bed ritual”). So I go through the whole process again.

It goes much the same as before, except for one small hiccup. There’s a dead spider on my floor. Well thank fucking Optimus I was using the light. When my fear/paranoia is at it lowest ebb, I switch on a small malfunctioning torch that hangs from my bed head, I don’t usually take it with me. It provides enough illumination to (hopefully) spot a dark-coloured huntsman on the pale-coloured floor. If I’d done that tonight, I might not have even looked at the floor that closely. I might have thought it was just a piece of debris thrown down by my mice. I might have stepped on it. Fortunately, I didn’t.

Unfortunately, it gave me even more to worry about. Like: JUST HOW MANY GOD-DAMNED SPIDERS ARE HIDING IN HERE, ANYWAY? Like: where did this one come from? Did it come in from outside? Crossing the toxic barrier that was ultimately its undoing? Was it already indoors and just fell foul of my spraying so much of that poison about that my nose was running for something like an hour? Like: if a spider that small made it that far before succumbing to the poison, how far would an adult get? Would the adult even be poisoned enough to die? Like: is the poison on my floor discouraging them from coming inside, or are they just marching onwards, figuring they’ll escape the toxin if they just keep going?

These concerns keep me awake at night. But it’s almost light now. I can see it between the chinks in my curtains. Maybe I can get some sleep. I have a lot of vacuuming to do tomorrow.

I am now awake and ambulatory after last night’s spider incident. The devil spawn that crawled off under my couch to die was found dead on the floor next to his refuge. My brother kindly removed the corpse for me (then tried to give me the cardboard tube he carried it out on; and I’m telling him “don’t give me that, it’s unclean!”). I want to vacuum under the couch, but I’m scared if I move it, I’ll find another/more spider(s). Maybe I could just have someone drag it outside and we’ll burn it. Then I wouldn’t have a couch. Damn.

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~ by ghostwolfe on November 6, 2010.

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