Melanie Smith hopes her fear of spiders won’t get in the way of a trip of a lifetime.
Sydney is currently top of my travel bucket list, but there’s one thing hampering my visit. My irrational fear of spiders.
The city is home to some of the world’s most dangerous species. But it’s not really the threat of a venomous bite that bothers me. Arachnophobia is pretty common, but my fear goes beyond the norm. Spiders spark a response in me so inexplicably unreasonable it’s embarrassing. I become like the Incredible Hulk – I completely lose control of my actions and bulldoze my way through anything in my path (people, big or small included) to get away from the creatures…
And if it happens to be a closed door, there’ll be a Melanie-shaped hole in it resulting from my escape.
As a child I endured many an injury fleeing from spiders. I once spotted one while dusting the living room – it’s large spindly legs creeping towards me – that was so enormous I swear I could see its eyes taunting me. I simply had to escape and darted towards the door with no regard for what might be in my way. Unfortunately it was a glass-topped bamboo table that I smashed to smithereens, much to the bemusement and anger of my mother. But I just
kept running, barefoot, over a pile of broken glass.
Perhaps the worst self-inflicted spider-related injury I sustained was while I was in the shower washing my hair. From the corner of my eye, shampoo streaming down my face,
I could see that unmistakable figure. Eyes burning and vision blurred, my body immediately went into flight mode. But the slipperiness of the shower and the bathroom floor worked against me and I slipped and fell in the bath. The commotion made the spider dart out of harm’s way, which in turn sparked me to dart in the opposite direction. I stumbled clumsily to my feet and scrambled out of the tub, slipped again and landed face first on the tiled floor. I didn’t even feel the pain, though. I simply had to get away. It was only later looking in the mirror at my swollen black, blue and bleeding eye that I felt the pulsating pain and I realised how dangerous my irrational fear had become.
So it’s not really the spider, but more the harm I might do myself trying to get away from it that really scares me. I dread to think what might happen if I encounter an Australian tarantula with its 22cm plus leg span, fangs as big as a snake’s and its cat-like hiss on confrontation…
I do hope this foolish terror somehow subsides and I can take this trip of a lifetime. And that the Hulk in me doesn’t erupt to cause me some serious damage… while the spider simply scuttles away.
Melanie Smith is our chief sub editor. We know what we won’t be leaving on her desk this Halloween…