from Pantperthog to Knockando

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


When I was a kid, my parents decided to follow their starry-eyed evangelical dreams and become missionaries, which is how I ended up in Sibanor, a little town in the Gambia. While out there we were told in no uncertain terms never to touch creepy-crawlies, never to climb trees, and never to put our hands into holes in the ground.

The prescription on tree-climbing was to prevent the most common form of snake bite - when a climbing kid put his hand on a dozing venemous snake and startled it. When I returned to this country I discovered I have no upper body strength to speak of, and I've never been able to climb trees, or for that matter ropes in the school gym.

But the worst bit of my African childhood conditioning was the fear it instilled in me about bugs and other creepy crawlies, particularly spiders. To this day I freeze involuntarily when something scuttles out from behind a cupboard, or from under a rock in the garden. I'm getting better at dealing with smaller bug-type things. I doubt I'd be trapped in my home office now by a spider in the doorway (that happened once!). But I still get a reaction when an unexpected critter suddenly makes itself known.

This evening we came home from a shopping trip and I went into the bathroom to take my contacts out. I noticed the window had been left open, so I leaned over the sink to shut it. Except that in the sink was the largest spider I have seen in years. It was easily a good three inches across if you count the legs (and I do!).

Like a big pansy, I screamed and then my conditioning took over and I just had to get out of the room. Fortunately Cathy and Abby were home, so they could deal with it. I felt a bit better listening to them from the safety of the kitchen as they agreed that actually it was quite a big spider and I wasn't a total wuss. Meanwhile I had a severe case of the heebie-jeebies and even felt like I was going to throw up.

I know being scared of spiders is illogical. But when I see one, with no warning, and it's bigger than usual, I revert to being the little kid who knows the back yard contains real nasties (like scorpions, fire ants and snakes). And it scares all the logic out of me.

On the bright side, my illogical fear does have a rational cause. At Greenbelt I met someone who was phobic about buttons. Yes, buttons. I have no idea what causes that kind of phobia.

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At 29/8/07 22:28, Blogger Jenny said...

Gotta say, I am also petrified of spiders not in a silly, oohh I don't like them, I mean a big way. I cannot even touch jelly spiders that you get in kids sweets. I have also had to cut a holiday with friends short because I had a spider in my room. I get the cold sweats and am fixed in fear and cannot move. So, from one arachnophobe to another...I know what its like (and I haven't even got the great explanation of living in Africa!)

At 3/9/07 10:18, Anonymous gingerus starus said...

*laughing* in all seriousness though, at the wedding i was at on the weekend there was a person who had a phobia of peas. yes PEAS! to the extent that peas were taken off the dinner menu so as not to terrify this woman.
i so wanted to throw a pea at her during my speach to see her reaction. lol i am so cruel.

At 4/9/07 18:13, Blogger |Orient bird said...

See my blog entries with the tag "disgusting bugs" and you will see that you are not alone...!


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