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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Arachnaphobia and Other Southern Pestulence


I'm not really afraid of spiders.  I think they're cool little dudes and I'm totally fine with peacefully coexisting with them so long as they respect boundaries and keep their creepy crawly little asses outside.  Or well-hidden deep in the crevices of my home, even, so long as they're earning their keep by eating the more obnoxious insects and not looking at anyone in my household like sample platters or all you can eat buffets.

And guys, I'm actually pretty proud of myself, as a transplant to the South from Colorado, where the winters were cold enough to kill of most Hell spawn that sported more than 4 legs and generally the only time you encountered a creepy crawly was when you were in an area you probably weren't supposed to be in anyway.  Even then, I think I only know of once that my Mom encountered a black widow (digging in the garden), and anything else you encountered in the wild typically wasn't designed to rot you from the inside out with its bite or sting.

I legit never knew so many creepy crawly things existed until we moved to Oklahoma.  What the hell is a tick, and why are you strip-searching your children with a magnifying glass like the most over-zealous TSA agent ever?  What do you mean you're rubbing used chewing tobacco on your calves because it helps with the chiggers?  I don't know what chiggers are, but that doesn't sound like a very nice word and I'm not really comfortable with you using it in my presence. WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU MEAN THAT WAS A MOSQUITO??  YOU LIE! THAT WAS CLEARLY A PTERODACTYL AND F*CK YOU FOR LAUGHING AT ME WHEN I WENT FULL SPAZ-NINJA JUST NOW.

Seems about right.

Everything's bigger in Texas?  BIGGER?  Oklahoma’s like where God keeps his shrinky-dinks.  Nothing is normal here.  Everything’s huge, fanged, venomed, and mutated in the most accidentally-dunked-in-radioactive-waste ways imaginable, and the heat only seems to make it worse.  BIGGER?  F*ck Texas then.  Texas and Australia can keep their awesome accents and beautiful landscapes and everything in them designed lull you into awe and then brutally kill you. I'm just going to chill here in Oklahoma with my flame torch and not have my broken and battered remains dry-humped by something that Satan himself would be startled by, thank you.

Anyway, it did take me a while to get used to all the bugs.  Seriously.  So.  Many.  

For some back story - years ago, not long after we moved here, my dad came across what he thought at first was a small tarantula.  No big deal, right - he was just going to scoop it up and escort it outside.  But then he got closer to it.

What he described in order to get my mom's and my attention sounded like something out of a pretty awful horror movie.  The spider looked super fuzzy - and was breathing.  Pulsating.  Like, its entire body was moving, but not in any kind of sync, just kind of... rolling.

Now, anyone who lives in the South or has any real experience with spiders already knows where I'm going with this.  See, certain species of spiders carry their babies on their backs, like the most horrifying carry-on luggage you can imagine.  Hundreds of teeny, tiny, wriggling baby spiders hitching a ride on mommy because f*ck your sanity and ability to not have to cry yourself to sleep, that's why. 

Sweet dreams.

And you can laugh, because we were silly city folk, and didn't know that the writhing nightmare before us was a totally normal occurrence in nature (!).  So my dad, being the logical, level-headed person that he was, did the only rational thing he could think of in the split second before you think your entire family is about to be devoured by a creature that’s terrifying and makes no sense and has no business being in this realm – he jumped, with both feet and his entire weight, right on top of this thing.

My Dad, for anyone new here, was about 6 foot 7 and a good 250 plus pounds.  The walls shook.  There was an audible “boom” as the floor bared the sudden, harsh impact of his weight.  The house itself moaned in protest as I’m sure the foundation was shifted, if even just a little bit.

And the spider…. F*cking exploded.

Worst.  Pinata.  Ever.  It was like one of those horror movies where you think they got the bad guy, only instead of going up in flames he suddenly turns into thousands upon thousands of tiny bad guys, coming at you from every angle imaginable. There were teeny tiny spiders scrambling for their lives in all directions, and all my Mom and I could do was stare on in horror, as surely this was the beginning of the Apocalypse and we were powerless to stop it.

This is it.  This is how the world ends.  Not with a bang, but with a nerdgasm.

And my Dad, still not fully understanding what the hell had just happened, began doing the most insane Mexican Hat Dance I’ve ever seen in my life.    Or, more accurately, like Riverdance performed by Andre the Giant on LSD and blindfolded, with someone steadily shooting bottle rockets at his ass as he screams random, frantic expletives.  It was both magnificent and deeply terrifying and, I’m sure, pretty embarrassing for my Dad once we figured out that the erupting Hell beast was nothing more than a momma spider carrying her babies.

Poor b*tch probably just thought she was taking a happy stroll with her little ones to the park or something.  She never saw it coming.

So this morning, when I encountered a similar pulsing nightmare in my kitchen, I knew better than to try to Hulk-smash it with the shoe I’d just retrieved from the living room.  No, this would require strategy.  This would require stealth and focus, and a little bit of luck.

Raid, guys.  It’s creepy crawly genocide in a can.  5/5 stars.  It seems to work best if you squeal like a little girl while spraying it in nonsensical sweeps toward the general vicinity of the spider-volcano.  Crying and whimpering may or may not help, but a sudden, shrill warrior cry is much more empowering.  Would definitely recommend.   

But the point of this post is that, after my victory and the subsequent sweep and mop so that my kitchen floor no longer looked like the sad and squishy aftermath of a really low-budget Scy-Fy movie, I got a little squirmy and started Googling natural ways to repel spiders.  And as I was looking through all the pictures of spiders and the recommendations for citrus and peppermint (because spiders don’t suffer from scurvy and hate Christmas, obviously), I’m thinking about how silly I feel for being squirmy.

I’m the human.  I just annihilated an entire family of spiders with a pump of my finger, like freaking Don Corleone.  Sure, I lost my shit a little, but I left no witnesses.  I’m the master of my domain, the queen of this castle.  I’m at the top of the food chain, dammit.

And then a fly landed on my hand and I almost pissed my pants.

Perspective, guys.  We may be hundreds of times bigger than they are, but they still manage to illicit a certain, um, respect, if you will, because we know on some primal level that the little bastards could easily take us down with a few well-placed nibbles on our puny human flesh.  It's a bug's world, and we're just living in it.

Dammit, Disney.

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