Arachnophobia

Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

Although I’m not generally a fan of insects, I can tolerate most of them. I feel great antagonism toward the long, thin ones with billions of wispy legs (those things move FAST) because they force themselves into our apartment, and I have an absolute intolerance of spiders. Definitely arachnophobia. (Dramatic much? Not at all.) But there’s a why behind that particular phobia. Allow me to share this childhood story.

The setting is Traverse City, Michigan. The time is the past, back when I was a kid, in that era when I wore multi-colored shorts with my t-shirt tucked in and thought nothing of it. My family was vacationing in MI because we have relatives there. We stayed in this cabin owned by one of said relatives in the forests of Traverse City. I vividly remember being in a writing phase, when I thought I was an awesome fiction writer. I wrote a story in a wide-ruled notepad about a family vacationing in an  old, musty cabin that turned out to be haunted… so clearly I was loving the accommodations. Another favorite memory revolves around the multitudinous mosquitoes. I remember one night when we all ventured outside to look at the stars filling the sky unhindered by any light pollution…and hopping around in a weird dance to prevent mosquitoes from landing on me and sucking my blood dry. A contemplative moment. (In my defense, when bitten by mosquitoes, I used to form a large, warm, swelled lump that would remain for days and itch terribly.)

Now that we’ve established how much I loved the outdoors, I’ll set down the actual tale. One day we prepared to hike the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. I was excited! It sounded like a huge beach.

Ready to join the masses on a pilgrimage to the top.

Ready to join the masses on a pilgrimage to the top.

I distinctly remember a pair of white elastic shorts and matching white Minnie Mouse t-shirt with glittery blue lettering (tucked, always). We ate breakfast and we getting ready to go. I sat down to put on my gym shoes. Time slowed. I couldn’t fit my foot in. I adjusted the shoe and tried again. Nope. Something was wrong… I pulled my foot out and as I did, caught a glimpse of something in the toe of my shoe.

Screams. Crying. Everyone looked. Dad wanted to take a picture. Mom wanted him to kill it. The skulking beast scuttled across the floor. Dad finally killed it with his flip-flop. It left a horrifying mess on the floor. (Were multiple strikes with the footwear required before the nasty intruder met its end?) It was a HUGE BLACK HAIRY SPIDER. Did I mention it was huge? I think it’s called a pine spider. Google it yourself. I can’t handle pages of images of nasty spiders.

Needless to say I was traumatized. The rest of the vacation I would throw my shoes on the floor before putting them on. Long after that trip I harbored a fear of creatures lurking in my shoes. I never got over the apprehension of putting on my roller skates, as they were stored in the garage and susceptible to various insects. The damage was done and my completely rational fear remains to this day.

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