Since I was a little girl, I've been frightened to death of certain bugs. Bugs really creep me out, and roaches (especially cockroaches and those huge water bugs), centipedes, silverfish and SPIDERS top my list of creepy crawlies to stay away from. With this being a life-long phobia, my hysterics were certainly understandable when I had a close encounter of the bug type in my office yesterday.
This was no ordinary bug. No, at Sewanee, all the bugs are super-huge...almost as if they're growing them special over in the science lab JUST to intimidate poor Sewanee staff members like me. Since I've moved to my nice, corner office in Thompson Union, I've seen no less than five of the hugest roaches I've ever encountered. These even rival those I witnessed in the dormitories at the University of Kentucky when I worked there, so...I'm here to tell you...these suckers are BIG.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my office, typing at my computer, minding my own business, when I felt a "tickle" on my calve. I had on cropped pants, so I just thought it was the cuff on my pants brushing against my leg...so I changed positions. But I still felt it. I sat back away from my desk, looked down, and saw it. On my leg, centimeters from going up under the cuff on my crop pants was the GRANDDADDY of all roaches.
Needless to say, I screamed. I jumped up out of my seat. I stomped my legs. I did a little dance. I swatted at my clothes. I screamed some more. The roach, not quite sure what to make of this display, decided the best thing to do was skedaddle back down my leg and up under the corner of my desk. My hysterics brought a crowd of onlookers wondering what in the world was going on at the end of the hall.
By the time backup arrived, I was standing on the other side of the room. Not quite sure that there weren't even more roaches on me, I was still swatting and dancing. Jennifer, one of my coworkers who inhabits the desk down the hall from me, was the bravest. She, having lived for a while in Florida, had encountered the horrific palmetto bugs, so she was willing to look under the desk to see if she could find Mr. Roach hiding, standing, waiting for me to come back. He was nowhere to be seen. She tried to ensure me that he was probably long gone, but I wasn't so sure. For the rest of the day, I tried not to put my legs all the way under the desk. Do you know how hard it is to type when you're sitting three feet away from the computer?!?
Michael had no sympathy for me whatsoever. When I called him later to tell him about it, his only reply was, "Sweeeeeeeeet..." He thought it was "awesome" (his word, not mine) that a roach almost invaded my pants.
This wasn't the first time I've had such a close encounter with one of my greatest fears. What I hate even more than roaches are SPIDERS. I have been known to stay locked outside my house for more than two hours because a spider had built a web near the door, and I was afraid to go that close to it. I had to wait for someone who wasn't scared of spiders to knock down the web and make sure that it was dead before I'd go near the door.
One of my most frightening experiences was when I was about six years old. I'll never forget it. In fact, when I think about it today, it seems as though it just happened yesterday. Now THAT is the sign of a huge impact on one's life. I was visitingmy Mama Bruce, my great-grandmother, at her house in Cawood, Kentucky one Sunday after church. Most Sunday's a lot of my cousins would come to visit her, too, and we'd all play out in the yard...games like Red Light/Green Light and Simon Says. This particular Sunday, my oldest cousin, Valerie, suggested Hide-and-Go-Seek. I loved that game! As one of the youngest cousins, I was always trying to look "bigger" to the others. I wanted them to think I was a cool kid and not afraid to do anything. I wanted to be considered one of them...not one of the babies.
When Valerie started to count, we all ran to hide. I remember thinking I had to pick someplace really, really good. That's when the old "out-house" came to mind. I knew we weren't allowed to go inside it. Our parents were afraid that we'd fall in, or the floor boards would break, or there would be snakes in there. I wasn't afraid of snakes, and I didn't believe I'd fall in, so I thought this would be the best place to hide. All my older cousins would think me brave if I was willing to go in there with snakes against our parents' wishes!
I remember that the old weathered, wooden door creaked when I slowly pulled it open and peered inside. It was dusty and dark, but I didn't see any snakes. I pulled the door open a little wider and stepped inside. The door swung shut behind me. I looked around as I turned in a slow circle. Sunshine was coming through the spaces between the wooden walls, and I could see dust floating through the air in the sunbeams. The two-seater out-house had a little space between the "holes," a perfect place to sit while I waited. I knew I'd need to sit down, because it would take them FOREVER to find me in this place! I sat down and looked up toward the ceiling. That's when I noticed all the large cobwebs. There were even some in the corners near the "seats." Webs could only mean one thing. Spiders. And I hated spiders. I suddenly realized that the entire out-house was full of webs, and I thought I better rethink my hiding place! I jumped up to walk toward the door, and that's when I saw it: the biggest spider I've ever seen. He was on the wall to the right of the door. And boy, was he BIG. In fact, he was so large, I remember thinking that if I spread all five of my fingers out as far as they'd go, my palm and fingers would still not be as big as this gargantuan spider! He was a TARANTULA...I just KNEW it (yeah, I'm well aware there are not supposed to be tarantulas in Eastern Kentucky, but you tell HIM that!)!!!!!
I remember it clearly. I did the dance. The same dance I did in my office yesterday when I realized that it was a roach that was playing with my leg. I remember stomping and shaking my clothes. And then it dawned on me that I was in an outhouse with probably THOUSANDS of spiders. That's when I panicked! I remember thinking that I'd have to get closer to the big spider to actually get out of the out house...but I didn't know if I could do it. But I HAD to do it! I closed my eyes, gathered my strength and ran toward the door as fast as I could. I'd be like lightening, and he wouldn't even have the chance to jump on me! So, I hit the door with both hands going full speed. And then I stopped. The door wouldn't open, and I was standing RIGHT NEXT to the spider. I freaked out. That's when the screaming started. I screamed and I screamed and I screamed. I flung myself against the door again, but it was still stuck. Again. Nothing. More screams. Finally, I backed up toward the seats to get a good running start, and flung myself one more time against the door. It flew open and I went sailing out the door into the sunlight. I remember coming to a stop flat on my stomach in the green grass, my arms straight out in front of me.
Once I could take a breath, I looked up to see my dad and two of my uncles running toward the out-house as fast as they could. My mother and aunt were close behind them. That's when I knew how much trouble I was in. My dad got to me first, and as he picked me up off the grass and I began explaining what happened, I saw my cousins, huddled together near the garage, laughing. Gina had her hand over her mouth as if she was trying to hide the fact that she was finding great pleasure in my situation. But I knew her laughter was meant for me to see...I was meant to see that they were ALL laughing. Sheila pointed to me and hit her knees with her hands as she doubled over in laughter. This was NOT what was supposed to have happened!
I remember that my uncle went inside the outhouse to look for the giant spider, but he couldn't find it. I made my dad go look, but he didn't see it either. What about the other spiders, I remember asking...are they all gone?!?! Only a few "babies" left, my uncle said. I remember him saying that must have scared most of them away with all my screaming.
I don't remember much about my punishment, although I know I got one. What I DO remember is that about two weeks after that, my great-grandmother had that old out-house torn down and the big hole filled in. But even though the out-house was no longer there, I knew that giant spider was still hiding around her house SOMEwhere...maybe he had moved to the garage or to the furnace room of the house...but he was definitely there.
Ever since that encounter, I've dreamed about spiders a few times a year. Most of the time, I see them falling from the ceiling, lowering themselves by that little rope of web, down onto my face. I jump out bed, do my dance and shake the bed covers. I never find anything, though. Those spiders are really, really sneaky.
I've read that a person, on average, eats at least four spiders a year in their sleep. Now, my family says that these spider encounters I have in the middle of the night are dreams...but if we eat four spiders a year...I don't think I'm dreaming, do you!?!?
Now that I live in Fayetteville in an old house, spiders are nearly an everyday sighting. And I still won't go near them. Michael has been dubbed the official spider-killer in the family. No matter the size, spiders creep me out. Just last week, we contracted with a bug patrol to spray our house monthly for spiders...and centipedes and silverfish and all those other bugs I hate so much.
In my opinion, the only good bug is a dead bug.