Friday, April 21, 2006

For the record

So I'm at a team dinner the other night (wherein "team" signifies a group of folks who do systems work, and not a group of folks who possess strength, grace, and coordination--some do, but on this team, I'm not picked last, if you get my drift), and one of the gentlemen starts talking about a nature hike in a forest in the Philippines. It all sounds extraordinary, and just when I'm thinking to myself that this dude is putting me to shame for not having experienced anything much in my lifetime, that's when he mentions the spiders.

"You don't remember any spiders?" he asks the woman sitting next to me, who is actually from the Philippines. She assures him that she's been there several times and does not remember seeing any spiders. "That's weird," he continues, "because there were a lot of them. They were in the canopy. They were pretty far away, but they looked big. Like this," he says, gesturing with his hands to indicate an arachnid the size of a dinner plate, or perhaps a charger. I make an involuntary noise indicating my habitual horror at any spider large enough to be detected without reading glasses. Then my imagination really kicks in (helpfully adding color and heft to the image based on some stories my college roommate told me about spiders you could HEAR walking on hardwood floors in a cabin from her childhood--"They sound like this," she'd say, drumming her fingers on a notebook) and I make another involuntary noise, meant to clearly convey that I would not appreciate being led on a friendly nature walk, only to look up and find the canopy above me festooned with enormous spiders.

And he looks at me and says, "What? They aren't on you or anything. I mean, I didn't see any coming down out of the canopy." He turns back to the lady on my right and says, "They must eat birds."

For the record, that's a sick and unhealthy attitude designed to lead someone to an early death. Spiders the size of dinner plates may be God's creatures, and they may be a natural wonder. They may be greeted with enthusiasm by a person whose job it is to discover a new species of spider, or to catalog all the spiders in the known world. But for an ordinary human to be immune to the instinctive terror that should immediately kick in upon seeing a spider who COULD NOT FIT IN YOUR SHOE is just wrong, wrong, wrong. I'd accept the argument that it's tough for them to hide and jump out at you due to their size and weight. I'd accept a mitigated reaction indicating that your fear has been conquered by testosterone or adrenaline--some kind of Indiana-Jones-style, "Spiders. Why'd it have to be spiders?" But claiming that the spiders are okay because at this moment they're too bored to try to kill you is just silly.

Look, in "Arachnophobia," there's a reason Julian Sands dies and Jeff Daniels lives. That's all I'm saying.

1 comment:

Siobhan said...

thanks so didn't need to read that. NOt a mental image i needed at all.