Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spiderwoman Instinct

Just last week, my aunt told me about the book The Gift of Fear and shared a story of a time when her instinctive fear warned her toward caution during a late-night kitchen run. She put on slippers and turned on lights (she ordinarily did neither) and when she walked into the kitchen, a spider--a huge wolf spider--was poised to attack just inches from her foot.

This reminded me of the car accident I had years ago in Columbus, Georgia. Something warned me not to turn on the green arrow. Three lanes of cross-traffic were stopped, but I couldn't see the fourth lane. Reason told me that no one would run a red light with three lanes of heavy traffic stopped beside them, so I pulled out but kept my eye on the empty lane. I saw the GMC Jimmy plowing straight for my car at top speed.

Time slowed for me, and I could see very clearly that there really was nowhere to go, nothing to do.  I thought I was going to die, so I closed my eyes. Who wants to watch something like that?

Crash. Big crash.

I can still hear the noise of it.

When the noise stopped, I opened my eyes to see how hurt I was. The interior of my car was a light camel color and I was wearing light blue clothes that day and my first thought was, "Where's the blood?"

Then I thought, "YAY! No blood!"

I looked up to see a horribly cracked windshield, a crumped hood blocking my view, and dense black smoke billowing around it.

That JMC Jimmy killed my Acura Integra.

Turns out I was thrown against the driver's side door, hitting my head, shoulder, and arm pretty hard, though I have no memory of it. A nurse who happened to be in the car behind me climbed into the back seat of my car (not easy in a two-door Integra) and held my head steady until the paramedics arrived. The nurse and paramedics were so kind, though backboards are really, truly, horribly uncomfortable.

The police called my husband to tell them I'd been in an accident and he needed to come to the hospital ASAP. They would tell him nothing of my condition, so he, of course, freaked out until the ER staff brought him back to see me and my non-bloody self.

I thank God my injuries were all soft-tissue and bumps and bruises, though the shoulder pain took years to go away. Go away it eventually did, as did the unbelievable fear of turning left on green arrows. People would honk their horns to urge me through intersections when I couldn't see if every single lane of cross traffic was stoppped.

Flash forward to Tuesday of this week. I stopped at the end of our driveway to get the mail and tossed it into the front passenger seat. One of these jumped out at me:

Of course I freaked and tried to kill it with a magazine from the mail, but that sucker leaped into the passenger floorboards and crawled out of sight into the dashboard.


I was wearing sandals.

The horror. The horror. This is what happened to Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. Spiders jumped out of the jungle on him, he went crazy and died.

Not really. But you know exactly what I mean, don't you?

All I could think of was my aunt's story about the wolf spider. I knew that my spider (a less dangerous jumping spider) would reappear.


When I least expected it.

Crawling up my bare naked leg.

Or biting my toe.

And I would wreck my car in panic.

Because really, these sorts of melodramatic things happen to me every single day.

Reappear she did, though thankfully not on my person. Yesterday, while driving alone on a two-lane country road, I caught movement on the dashboard, and there she was.

Interesting how, just a second before I noticed her, I had assessed the road situation: no one coming at me, no one behind me, no cars pulling out onto the road ahead of me, doing the speed limit. It was perfectly safe for me to react to her hairy presence on my dash.

I immediately grabbed a conveniently-located copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from the passenger seat and whacked that spider. Fortunately, she was in a dip in the molded dash and she didn't get totally squished--just squished enough to die--so I can show photographic proof.

Feelings of power and deep, abiding satisfaction filled me when I realized I. Had. Won.

I am WOMAN, hear me roar! See me kick scary spider ass!!!!

Delusions of grandeur.

But after whacking that spider, I wonder if I need to read a book called The Gift of Fear. After all, I'm Spiderwoman and I've got instincts.

What has made you afraid recently? Have you ever seen fear...and instinctive response to a gift?


  1. Kudos to you for getting IN the car with a spider! There is NO way my daughter would ever ride in our car again as she is deathly afraid of them. I on the on the other hand, having grown up in the tropics learned to live with tarantulas LOL! Way to squish that spider and claim your car back :)

    Instinctive fears can can be life saving and life altering - we just have to listen. Nothing earth shattering is coming to mind at the moment which is irritating (think it's lack of coffee LOL!), but know I have gone by my gut fear/unease/"something's not right feelings quite a few times and been glad I have.

  2. I have an irrational fear of spiders so I had to force myself to read this entire post with those pictures poised to jump out of the screen...I live in an area of Alberta with no credible attacking spider threat, so this is truly an unwarranted phobia. Spring is the time of year when all the sleeping spiders seem to come out of hibernation, and there have been many freak-outs this week. My husband thinks he can help me to overcome this fear, so he catches the biggest ones and puts them in the shower where they can't escape. Cut to me opening the shower door with sleep in my eyes...yep, beter than caffeine. I think it's evil and mean. He claims he's trying to help me, but I think he does it just so he can see me run naked down the hallway.

    This morning, I just had a creepy feeling, so I armed myself with a can of hairspray before I opened the shower door...and sure enough there was a frantically scurrying spider trapped in the shower. I still eeked out, but am happy to say that hairspray sticks those suckers to the wall. Fear was founded, and I was armed. But I'm still freaking out. Thank God they aren't the jumping kind or I would seriously consider poison (for my husband as well as the spiders).

  3. Now, I was already giggling a little bit, and then I read Lorrinda's comment....cue spewed Coke Zero. Bwahaha :)
    I must say, the Deathly Hallows would be the book I'd want on hand if I needed to squash that. Or maybe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A nice, big, meaty book. We don't have any dangerous spiders here in Nova Scotia, just some really big ones at the end of mosquito season - and I let them live, since I hate mosquitoes more than I hate spiders. My son, on the other hand, screams like a little girl whenever he sees one smaller than my pinky nail. He's convinced they're all black widows.
    Spiders kind of took over there. I think instinctive response to fear would be a gift. I don't appear to have it - I get the heebie-jeebies for what never seems to pan out as true reasons, and walk blindly into all sorts of situations. Sigh.

  4. I really don't know why God made spiders so creepy. I HATE them. Even the tiniest of ones. Actually the only bug I like is a lightning bug - I'll even pick up one. Spiders do not have a chance around me. I try to get someone else to kill them but if necessary I'll do it.

  5. I was in a car accident, rear-ended by a tractor trailer while I was waiting to turn left into the library. Soft tissue injuries, bumps, bruises and whip lash, which took months of chiropractic visits and therapy to fully recover from. Anyway, about two weeks after the accident, I had an encounter with a wolf spider--hiding in my sneaker! I put my hand in to pull the shoe tongue forward and felt a sharp prick. Ow! Like a fool, I thought there was a burr in my shoe. I reached in again and OUCH! Then the wolf spider emerged from the shoe with SWAGGER. I am embarassed to say I became quasi-hysterical, like a woman in a cartoon. I flapped my hands, was jumping around and SCREAMING in a way I didn't think I was capable of. The worst part? When my husband came to check on me and saw my hysteria and tears, he captured the spider and LET IT GO. It had bitten me--TWICE. Where was his loyalty? UGH. Last year I opened my newspaper and a black wido was looking back at me. I stayed calm this time and let it go.

  6. What has made me afraid recently? I have to say, getting our store broken into the second time in less than a month was pretty scary. Especially since the second time they got away with stuff. And, the alarm didn't go off. And it was a brand new alarm put in the day before. And the fact that it brought feelings back from when I'd walked in on someone in our house a few years ago (who didn't belong in our house!). I'm almost ok again, but pity the person who tried to scare me thinking it will be funny! They may be the one who is scared!!

  7. Euw! Powerful post, Susan! I felt that accident and now have goosebumps from the spiders! If you read me, you know what scared me recently ... well, that is, until I caught up with your blog just now, lol!

  8. That's a male Jumping spider BTW. We love them at our house. They're actually very fun to watch and very smart. The only spider that can strategize several moves a head of it's prey and plan out a method of attack. Adorable and totally harmless!!

    And no I haven't hit my head recently. :D

  9. All I could think was poor spider, what did it do to deserve to be squished? No I am not a spider lover, hate spiders, they frighten me but neither can I can kill them. So I have to wait until DH or daughter is around to pick them up and take them outdoors to control the flies that I hate even more.

  10. I am not a killer of spiders. I don't judge people who do, but I have carried many spiders away from my whack-happy children and out of bathtubs about to be filled. Again, not judging.

    Your car crash story gave me the heebies AND the jeebies. Dang, the image of that truck coming at you like that - yikes. I am so glad also that you weren't hurt worse.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!