Certain things must run in families. I think Maggie has inherited her slightly irrational fear of spiders from my cousin Teresa. When Teresa was about nine years old, she called me from her house, slightly hysterical and sobbing. After she finally calmed down, she asked if I would come over to her house and kill a spider that she had just spotted on the dining room wall. Since I was only fourteen at the time and not old enough to drive and the only one at home at the time, I couldn’t offer my assistance. Since no one could come to her rescue, rather than staying in the house with the offending creature, she instead relegated herself to the machine shed where all the farming equipment was stored, sitting on the workbench until one of her parents arrived home from the field. (yes, keep in mind that there were probably lots more spiders in the machine shed itself, but she didn’t actually SEE any of them at the time, making it a far safer option than the house at that point.)
I was reminded of that incident the other day. I was in the kitchen making dinner, when I heard a shriek from down in the basement. I went on about my business and paid it no heed, as shrieks and squeals are commonplace in a household where little girls are found. A few moments later, Maggie emerged from the basement stairs, snotty and crying - - and more than a little perturbed that I had ignored her shriek. I had given her the task of cleaning up some toys that she had gotten out the night before, and in the process, she had discovered a spider lurking underneath some of the dressup clothes.
It took her a few moments to get a hold of herself. Once she was a little more under control, I grabbed a kleenax and told her to come show me where the spider was in the basement. A look of fear and panic seized her, and it was clear that the last place she wanted to go was back to the spider’s lair in the basement. I figured that this must be some behemoth of a spider to have gotten her that worked up.
She did finally agree to go downstairs with me, but stood about ten feet away from where she had actually seen the spider and just pointed. She looked ready to bolt at any second, should the critter decide to make any sudden moves. Unfortunately, I had a problem. I got down on my knees, moved toys around - - even ran my hand across the floor (which caused her to shudder slightly) - - but I just couldn’t find the villainous spider. Finally, after several moments of careful looking, I spied the evil doer which surreptitiously had sought shelter under the stand that holds the television and DVD player, no doubt alarmed by the creature roughly 800 times his size shrieking like a banshee. It was no wonder that I had trouble spotting it, as it was approximately the size of a #2 pencil’s eraser, legs and all.
I thought that there was no way that this little guy could have caused this much commotion, but when I pointed it out to her, sure enough - - he was indeed the offender. I gathered him up in my kleenax and turned to walk back upstairs to dump it in the garbage. Maggie gave me a wide berth as I passed by, still worried that perhaps the spider’s smashed, lifeless body may somehow make its way out of the kleenax and jump several feet across the room to land on her. No, I couldn’t understand her irrational fear of such a tiny little creature, but I am sure I know someone who does.