I began this story in an email to a good friend, and halfway into telling it, exclaimed, “this is a blog post! This is an atheist life hack!” and promptly promised it would be finished on my blog. So, here it is!
The first time I lived in Australia, I was eight. We had a little brown bungalow on Berman Crescent in Flagstaff Hill, South Australia. Our backyard was nothing but a garden filled with palms and birds of paradise, eucalyptus, bottle brushes and other bushes and trees. There was just a small patio. Just enough space for a small table and some chairs.
The house itself was tiny. Three small bedrooms and a long, skinny layout. A tiny kitchen, and small living room. The front yard sprawled though, the Edenic front lawn draped with eucalyptus trees.
The entire property, all said, was just about entirely bush and garden. We found out pretty quickly that when you live in a country where the spiders play golf, ride horses and fight sharks, living on a property that was all bush was like someone afraid of heights choosing to live their life dangling from a cliff by their fingertips.
They were fucking everywhere. We’re not talking about little pussy-ass garden spiders. I’m talking about the motherfucking huntsman. Here. Take a gander:
Oh. Hey… sup, buddy?
I was, and am still an extremely arachnophobic human being. Living here, you must understand, was fucking hell.
One night after dinner, my dad took my brother and me to the local deli to grab a treat. My mom stayed back to finish tidying. When we got back, my brother and I hopped out of the car and ran to our front door, which was actually a screen door that entered into a foyer, where our actual front door was. As I got near the foyer, a dark blob on the wall caught my attention and I put on the brakes… you could almost hear a screech. There he was, in all his furry, fanged glory. A huntsman the size of Alcatraz, right there on the wall. I screamed. None of us, not my dad, my brother or me were brave enough to go through the foyer to get inside our house. So, we called for my mom. When she came sauntering around the corner, dish towel still in hand and saw what was on the wall in the foyer, she immediately refused to come out. So there we were at a standstill. My father, brother and I outside refusing to go in, and my mom inside refusing to come out. There was only one logical thing to do: call the neighbour.
A few minutes later, Louise, who was just barely six, came bouncing up our driveway in her blonde pigtails and flip-flops. She greeted us, casually entered the foyer, slipped a flip-flop off her foot and grabbed it with her right hand. In one glorious moment, our heroine knocked Shaquille O’Neil off the wall, slipped her flip-flop back on and stepped on him, his long, hairy legs, wriggling out the sides of her little purple sandal. Relief washed over us. Sure, we had to figure out how to dispose of the body now, but the worst was certainly over.
The worst was certainly over… hahaha…
It just so happened, our living room wall that faced out to our backyard was a glass wall from top to bottom. When we sat on our couches in the living room, we could see out into our backyard.
Every night, after dusk, we’d all go get into our jammies and meet on the couch to watch some TV before we hit the sack. One night, we forgot to close the blinds. As dusk fell, we saw one huntsman crawl up the outside of the glass wall. We all froze. Then there was another… and another. Before we knew it, we were trembling in each other's arms, staring in Danny-Torrence-style horror at 8 or 9 furry, eight-legged creatures with visible fangs.
Did this… did this happen every night? We all wondered. Sure enough, further research proved it did. Sometimes, there would be just eight of them. Other nights maybe eleven. Sometimes there was even a baker’s dozen, a full-on army, of these eight-legged demons.
They taunted and laughed at me through that window, as tears streamed down my cheek. Sucking the ability to sleep right out of my body, through that glass wall and into their beady little eyes, which we could see glisten from inside our home. My mom would open a cask of wine, and she and my father would proceed to empty it, just so they could sleep. I, being eight, was on my own as far as sleep aids went. Every night we waited. Every night we heard them come. Some nights we would look and every night my parents drank enough to let them sleep.
Eventually, mom and dad realized that they would become alcoholics if they didn’t do something about this, so not nearly soon enough, they finally called in pest control. They had our house fumigated so we could start living our normal lives again; so my parents could stop drinking themselves to sleep and so that I and my brother could sleep at all.
We got through the rest of that year without seeing another spider in our home or on our glass wall, but we didn’t escape the mental scars that are still there to this day. I still have nightmares, and I still like my blinds closed at night.
What sort of spiders do you have where you live? Let me know in the comments!