I said in a comment in a Mummy McTavish post that I was going to post about this contagious phobia soon. The time has come. Do you see those sweet little children in the top photo? Of course you do. I'm the big sister on the R.H. side reading the book. I use this photo because it puts me at about the right age and that puts you, dear blog reader, in the picture.
One day I was walking home from school at about the age of seven. As I neared a large vacant block that was still covered in bush, I heard a group of children getting excited about the "ghosts" that resided in among the trees. Little smarty pants that I was, I informed these superstitious babies that there was no such thing as ghosts and so there certainly wouldn't be any in this little pocket of bushland. (A public library eventually got built there and is still there.)
Naturally the superstitious babies dared me to walk through the trees to prove it. Of course I didn't hesitate. I calmly walked in among the trees for about 15 seconds and then came tearing out, crying and screaming hysterically and covered in cobwebs, like a bat out of hell (great metaphor!). One of these delightfully fat, creepy, scritchy spiders (a garden orb weaver to be exact - see the pic) had spread her web between the trees and as I walked into it, she scuttled for cover and found refuge down the front of my dress and under my singlet (vest to some). This meant that she was crawling around on my bare skin on my chest. This was 48 years ago and I still go tense thinking about it.
Remember the kids who thought that the bush was haunted? My exit must have proved it because they all took off. In seconds they had seemingly evaporated. I was left jumping up and down, pulling at my clothes frantically and screaming my little head off.
To cut this painful story short, a dear, brave lady who was walking on the opposite side of the road came over to console me. As I blubbered out my story she looked down my front. I think she was as scared as I was, but she slapped me soundly on the chest through my dress. Then, from her bag, she pulled out a handkerchief, and reaching down the front of my dress, she courageously scooped the now dead and very squashed spider away in her handkerchief. She then escorted me home still shaking and blubbering. Me, not the lady.
After she had explained what had happened to my dad who was home at the time, he thanked her and said that he thought that I would feel better after a nice bath. Good idea!
Even the bath is still vivid in my memory because as I was sitting shaking in the tub a hair floated by. I started to scream hysterically all over again. Dad rushed in and found me too scared to move to get out of the tub as I sat rigidly and pointed in the water and screamed something about a spider hair. The "spider" hair was about 6 inches long and looked exactly like the hair on my own little head, but by this stage it was difficult to feel rational. Mummy McTavish knows this story (probably off by heart). I can say with honesty that I have tried not to pass on my fear to my children. I have tried to pass on a love of all nature and I have tried to remain calm and rational in the presence of creepy, skin crawling, horrifying, scary spiders. I can also say that I appear to have failed. Mummy McTavish and Chimera and possibly even Jingles have absorbed my "heightened awareness" (thankyou MMcT for an excellent euphemism) through the womb.
My dad's reaction to all this was: the stupid woman could have caused me to get bitten by smashing the spider against my chest. But she will always be my hero!
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together.
At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.