Mrs. Spikey Spider by Janessa Lawyer Moore

Mrs. Spikey Spider

Okay, I admit it. I'm scared of spiders. I don't have a fear of spiders, I have a FEAR of them. But the terror one feels at the thought, or even site of a spider is nothing compared to the terror one can inflict on others when a great struggle between man and beast ensues.

Hurricane Frances was approaching slowly and painfully. The storm had occupied every waking thought for most of the residents of Florida for nearly a week and it was the day before landfall was scheduled (the first time - she took an extra day getting here). We'd done all the regular hurricane preparations: put the shutters up on the windows, bought some candles and flashlights, after a small brawl bought the last package of toilet paper at Wal Mart, and roughly 86 gallons of water (which, I've heard, is Florida tradition). We'd also done the obligatory store-hopping, which is also apparently traditional, because all the other Floridians were doing the same thing at the same time. Stressful is too bland a word to describe the conditions in Andrew-country when a large hurricane is approaching. It might not be the hurricane that causes post traumatic stress disorder after a hurricane. It just might be trying to buy D batteries and plywood that causes it. Someone should do a study.

Evening rolled around and it was supper time. The kids were hungry, and since I'd not delivered on my offer of McDonald's for breakfast, I decided to go get McDonald's for supper. It was hot and breezy, a typical tropical day. I hopped in our van and drove to the local McD's. The line wasn't too long, for which I was grateful: the fewer the customers, the greater the mathematical odds that they will be able to fill your order correctly. If you go when it is really busy, your odds of getting your double cheese burgers plain and your Quarter Pounder with Cheese without onions or pickles is roughly the same as being able to find D batteries at the stores on the days leading up to a hurricane in South Florida.

I was sitting in the van with the windows rolled down, chatting with my two year old daughter and enjoying the cross-wind. I felt something on my shoulder and turned my head to see a creature that I couldn't fathom with my mind, it was so frightening, but by instinct knew it was a spider. I felt the sting as it bit me, and simultaneously, I lost my mind. I think it is sheer luck that I'd gone to the bathroom before I left for McD's, or I would have lost control of my bladder as well. The spider, a Florida Jeweled Spider, was a black spider with a white oval crown about an inch across with red SPIKES coming off of it in a sunburst pattern. I can tell you this now, because I did the research on the Internet when I got home, so that I could identify it. Prior to that, in my mind, it looked something like a miniature version of the creature from Alien, only with red spikes, so sure was I that it must have been an alien creature that bit me.

I screamed. It seemed a natural reaction to having such a scary-looking thing somewhere upon my person! I screamed a LOT. Jumping out of my skin would have been my first choice, but the laws of physics continued to apply, so I merely jumped as hard as I could. Unfortunately, I was belted in, and the jumping pushed me so forcefully into my seatbelt that I was unable to unhook it. Now, while all this is happening, the shrieking and the jumping, my foot became disengaged from the break pedal, where it had previously been very effectively inhibiting my van's progress forward in the line. Suddenly there was something else doing that job just as effectively: a white Lincoln Navigator. Something managed to click in the rational and reason center of my brain that had enough power to stick my foot back on the break pedal and take my hand and use it to apply the parking break. Then I had to consciously choose to move back toward the spider, hanging in the window from a silk thread. That was a true testament to the power of will over the power of gut-instinct-run-amok! I was then able to unlatch my seatbelt. I reached in the floor of the van and grabbed a bottle of water and chunked it at the hanging spider. My screaming had softened to a mere holler. I finally managed to dislodge the spider from its thread and send it flying, Gene-Wilder-like: straddling a water-bottle-cum-rocket (okay, for those who haven't had Latin, that is COOM, and it means WITH or ALSO as in graduating magna cum laud, or graduating with great distinction - this means that the bottle also contains the properties of a rocket - it is not a sexual toy water bottle).

I looked up, realizing that I'd actually hit the person in front of me. I got out of the passenger side of the van and asked the woman if she was okay. She assured me that she was, so I went to get my insurance information for her. Both our vehicles appeared to be fine. Scanning the area of the driver's side door for Mrs. Spikey Spider, I got back in the van. I pull out my wallet and look up:

There, in the take-out window of McDonald's I can see quite possibly every single employee working in the store, crammed about 6 deep into the four foot by four foot square area. They're craning their necks to see the woman who was shrieking and screaming and fighting the unseen attacker in her car. One of them leans out of the window (it is entirely possible that she was forced out the window by the sea of humanity pressing at her back, attempting to observe the spectacle) and kindly asks, "ARE YOU OKAY!?"

"Yes, I am. It was....," I hesitate because I know how this is going to sound, " was...a spider. It bit me." I had to explain that it bit me, because if it had just sat there and looked at me my behavior would seem so much less reasonable...right?

The woman I hit appeared at my door, "Are you all right?" She was a little concerned, obviously, so I explained, "It was a spider. It bit me." And there it was: the look. It wasn't a compassionate look, to be sure. It was the look I knew I would be getting from my husband, but at least I was prepared for what he'd think. No, I couldn't escape it with this woman.

"A spider?" She was obviously astonished.

"Yes, the freakiest looking spider I've ever seen. And it bit me!" See, if I hammer home this point it will eventually make my behavior less....well, just less.

"I thought you were being attacked." And the look deepened. As did, I'm sure, her certainty that I am a complete nutter. Stark raving mad. "I rolled up my window because I thought you were being attacked."

I tried to explain, "I've got a phobia of spiders." But with the words out of my mouth, I realize it didn't do much to convince her of the absolute sanity of my actions. There was no impressing her, though. She was pretty certain I'd gone round the bend.

She reassured me that she wasn't worried about the car. I guess she was becoming more and more concerned about the mental stability of the woman who hit her and didn't want to set me off. Who knows what I might do if provoked! After all, you should have seen what happened to Mrs. Spikey Spider. She quickly took my personal information and beat a hasty retreat.

My daughter, who had witnessed the whole event, was insistently repeating herself, "W'happened, Mamma?"

"Mommy got bit by a spider, Julia."

But it must not have quite registered with her two-year-old mind, and instead of thinking 'spider', she thought 'specks of dirt': when she took her bath that night she expressed a sudden fear of the dirt in the bathtub. As irritated as this made my husband, it couldn't compare to the crushing guilt I felt at knowing that I may have just passed on a generational curse:

Fear of small dark-colored specks.

My mom has no love for bug-like creatures, nor my brother. I loved them until the day my mother screamed her head off at me for having a caterpillar crawling on my hand. I threw the fuzzy little guy into the wall and have had terrible fear of all things crawly ever since (I don't imagine it was anything less than utterly traumatizing for the little caterpiller either). We're hoping that being two, my daughter will have time to overcome her fear of dirt specks, as life will be so full of them. Dirt specks, that is. Hopefully not fears.

The van. A few minutes after Navigator lady hurriedly pulled away from the McDonald's I had to go through the humiliation of actually pulling up to the window and paying for my food. I tried to smile and hide my face at the same time. It had roughly the same effect explaining that I was simply phobic of spiders: it served to make me look loonier. While waiting for my 20 piece nuggets the van began to smoke. Now, we were going to trade it in possibly that very weekend for a brand new minivan with a dvd player and sliding driver's side door and no spiders (yes, that is standard). But now I'm looking at the radiator over-boiling and realizing that its value is decreasing in inverse proportions to the cost of my hurricane insurance premiums. The people who work in the McDonald's are watching me out the take-out window again. I'm pacing around my van, trying to ignore them. Hoping and praying they don't try to call somebody.

I call my insurance agent and get a 24-hour help line. I tell the lady what happened and when I start crying again, she is amazingly sympathetic. Something tells me she hates spiders too. Maybe I should call her back and we could start a club. My hubby shows up and rescues the day. We drive the kids home (only to discover our daughter is now afraid of dirt specks in the bathwater and hurricane Frances is delayed - apparently someone explained to him that if you're flying into Miami it is traditional to be delayed).

I'm okay. Mrs. Spiky Spider didn't make me sick. She was harmless. Except to all the frightened people around me who found themselves suddenly in the midst of a science fiction movie where a woman is attacked in her van by a terrible, unseen force. She vanquished the evil with a water bottle and still managed to pick up her order! Crazy? Like a fox!
Posted on 12:18 PM by Esquire-Nizzle and filed under | 4 Comments »


Anonymous said... @ February 22, 2010 at 6:27 AM

Thats a wonderful story! I myself have those spikey spiders in the marsh near my house, I live in Jacksonville, which is on the upper part of FL, and those spiders are everywhere. The scariest I've had is when I was running with my friend and I ran into a web and the spider got in my spiky hair. Needless to say, it was of course near the roots of my hair, since the force of my hair hitting the web pushed it down. It didn't bite, but it was trying to get out so much. I squealed like a girl, trying to shake my head so it'd fly off and I could do the "OMGSPIDEROMG" dance.

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Sam said... @ February 22, 2017 at 2:21 PM

I have a great fear of spiders as well. Especially the ones with long legs that jump on you. They definitely make me hurt myself trying to escape. I also have the spikey spiders outside and for some reason I am not afraid of them. They build their webs everywhere I walk so I carry a stick with me and swish it up and down as I walk through the yard. If that had been me in the drive through I would have gone through the passenger window whether it was open or not to get away. Hopefully I would like to think I had the presence of mind to put the truck in park before I left. Good story. I enjoyed it.

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