April 21, 2010

I was thinking today about the different kinds of phobias we have. Some people are afraid of heights. Some people are afraid of spiders (yours truly!). Some people are simply afraid of being afraid!

Dictionary.com defines a phobia as: a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. Well, that defines MY phobia of spiders!

I was reading my mom’s blog the other day about not eating seafood. A statement she makes, and I’ll paraphrase here, “… God gave some creatures more than four legs to escape man…” Well, I agree with this part of the statement when it comes to spiders. I know that God (or some entity or fluke of nature) created these creatures for a reason. They eat or consume or drink the fluids from other creatures that I’m not too particular about, namely mosquitoes.

However, I don’t like spiders!

I remember one time in my life at Agriculture Canada, I was working in Legal Services. The supervisor had asked me to file away some papers in the file room. I go in, start putting stuff away, the next thing I know, there is a HUMONGOUS spider hanging in front of my face. All I remember doing is yelling, and running out of the file room in a panic, heart pounding somewhere 20 steps behind me!

After a bit of calming down, one of the staff went in, squished it between her fingers, and told me the coast was clear. I never did live that down. It was the joke of the office for a very long time.

As years went on, my phobia never wained. I avoided spiders at all costs. But, when the situation presented itself, I’d grab an empty jar, let the spider crawl in, and put it outside. I know that the easiest thing would be to step on it, but again, they do serve a purpose. I just had to learn to live with them.

When I came to Taiwan, I was not prepared for the insect world as I knew back in Canada. Realize this, dear readers. Winter in Canada will generally kill of most insects, and therefore, they don’t get a chance to get big and fat! Taiwan, well, it’s a bit warmer. Winter here is like a spring day in southern Ontario! I think the insects slow down a bit, but they are still around – all YEAR round!

The first time I saw a cockroach was one night, a couple of days after arriving. I was standing outside a 7-11 near my home, using the pay phone. Our home, as is the case with most homes, did not have a telephone, and I did not have a cellphone. Needless to say, after my encounter with these cockroaches, a) I got a cellphone, and b) slept with the light on in my room for a long time!

About a week or so later, I was coming downstairs, and saw a black mark on the wall. As I was passing it, I noticed that it was the largest spider that I have ever, in my life, seen! Now, without the exaggeration as above, this spider WAS, as big as my hand! I ran down the stairs, again, heart pounding somewhere behind me. I was living with 3 girls (2 from South Africa and 1 from Canada). I must have looked a bit pale, and I described what I saw. They started laughing, and wanted to see this creature.

I cautiously walked over to the stairs with them, to point it out! Oh yay for me, the spider wasn’t there. Then it occurred to me that, perhaps in my haste to get down the stairs, that the spider had perhaps found itself on ME! I began tearing off my shirt, while the girls were laughing so much, one of them actually had to go to the bathroom! Again, something that, even today, when talking about the old times in Gangshan, they still remember that night!

Anyway, the spider was no where on me or my clothing. That still didn’t calm my panic. Later on, as it was time for bed, I cautiously went upstairs, and as I was nearing the floor, I would look all around to make sure I couldn’t see it. Then, quickly head over to the next set of stairs to go up to the third floor. Just as I was about to head to that staircase, I stopped dead in my tracks and called out to the girls. I couldn’t move.

There was the spider, right in my path. It was lying flat and flush to the floor! As soon as the girls came out of their respective bedrooms, the spider popped up, and started running. Think of it this way… put your hand flat on a tabletop. Now, pull your fingers in, so your palm comes off the table. Now, do this as quickly as you can, pretend your fingers are spider legs, and start running!

Now, I play this game with my cats. They get great pleasure out of trying to ‘catch’ the hand-spider, especially Gabriel. He can play this game for a long time. Well, I couldn’t play the game with this spider for ANY length of time. One of my brave roomies, somehow, I’m not sure, got the spider outside. The last I saw of that spider, but again, this just reinforced my reasoning for keeping a light on in my room at all times!

A few months later, I was living in a very small room in a bushiban I was working at, again in Gangshan. Damned, if I didn’t see another of these creatures. I couldn’t go up to my room. I got my bosses husband to get this spider for me. He followed me, since he didn’t speak English, saw what I was talking about, did a little prayer or something, then took his sandal and smacked the thing flat. Later, I was told that he is Buddhist, and killing another living creature was just not their way. Okay, I’m not Buddhist, but I do agree with letting it live – just not where I live!

Now, as much as I dislike spiders, there is still a bit of fascination in wanting to know about them. After seeing these creatures more and more around Tainan, I was told that they are called Wolf Spiders. I did a little internet surfing, and found out about these little darlings.

There are basically, two kinds of spiders. The normal, or what I call normal spiders, who build webs. Their ‘dinner’ flies into the web, they encase it, and well, becomes dinner for a while. Then, there are the type like these Wolf Spiders. They don’t build webs. If they want something to eat, they attack it and kill it! Now, not only did I have a fear of spiders, but a fear that perhaps, one would find me as prey! Oh joy, oh bliss!

Since moving into my present home, I’ve only had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing ONE of these spiders in my home. After cautiously walking around the living room, or rather, quickly stepping through the living room to come and go, I discovered it was dead. I don’t how, I don’t know who, I don’t know why. I don’t care. Now I can walk at a normal pace again.

I do believe deep down, that all of us, and all of them, are here for a reason. I also realize that they’ve probably been inhabiting this planet a hell of a lot longer than we have, and will probably be here long after we’ve gone.

Even now, I treat them with respect, but try not to get too close! But fair warning to all you spiders out there! My home, is inside. You have all the outdoors to play in.


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