Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Shark Cage

I have two major fears in this world.

One is a fear of open water. Any large body of water, fresh or salty. It doesn't even have to be that large. Anything larger than a swimming pool can do it. I'm not sure if I'm afraid of drowning or sharks or really cold water or people seeing my bikini line in a less than stellar state. When I think back to my youth--sailing the Great Lakes in my father's sailboat, occasionally running aground on large granite boulders jutting up from the deep lake floor, and hearing my dad calmly say to me, "Go below and see if the galley is filing with water"--it makes me suspect it might be the drowning part I'm most scared of. But then there have been the times that I've been in crystal clear, warm, tropical ocean water, and I've realized that I've felt very little fear. Because I could SEE what was coming at me. And that's how I know that it all comes down to sharks. Well, not just sharks. Sharks, swordfish, octopi, squid, and any other large, menacing, toothy, tentacled, beaked fish or mammal who might want to nibble on my dangling legs for lunch. So that's why the shark cage so intrigues me. It's a life-sized version of facing your fears close up. Coming inches away from a large man-eater and not being able to run. Or swim. Or even pee your pants. Just facing it.

My other fear is spiders. This is, probably, a less justifiable fear than drowning or sharks. Tiny, mostly-harmless little spiders, theoretically easily crushed, shouldn't be able to instill much fear in a person 1000 times their size wearing rubber soled shoes, right? But there you have it. I'm afraid of tiny, mostly-harmless, nasty, freaky, creepy little creatures 1000 times smaller than me.

So when Big Daddy said to me last week, "hey, come look at this huge wicked-looking black spider I found on the porch," you would probably assume that I went running in the opposite direction. Normally when spiders are mentioned, I do. But this time I didn't. Because I knew instantly by the sudden chill in my heart that no other spider could be described in that way but a Black Widow. And I was right. When I got close enough to see its jett black body with the over-sized round abdomen and it's robotic looking legs, I knew. Even before its half concealed red hourglass was evident, I knew. And a fascination for this deadly, fearsome, disgusting black spider drew me in and wouldn't let me go. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. But I just stared at it. Then Big Daddy went and got a jar, ostensibly to trap the spider to show the kids.

So there it sat, in its sealed, airtight jar on our porch. For DAYS. I couldn't throw it away. And I certainly wasn't going to let it out to kill it. So I just stared at it from a few inches away, fixated and horrified at the same time. After a couple of days it built a web around the top, near the crack of the sealed lid, and hunkered down, almost daring someone to try to open the lid. So I would pick up the jar and shake it until the spider let go and fell to the bottom. Safe. Safer. For just a few minutes.

I couldn't believe I was getting this close to a Black Widow. Looking at it. Holding the jar. Turning it and hearing its thick body and pointy legs clank against the glass. It almost made me throw up. It almost made me faint. But I couldn't turn away. Because I knew...this was my shark cage. And it was as close to facing my fears as I was ever going to get.


20 comments:

tiburon said...

That is an awesome looking black widow. As long as it is in a jar. Otherwise it gives me the creeps.

My #1 dream in life is to go down in a cage with Great White Sharks swimming around.

CaraDee said...

That is enormous. The scariest thing about them is the thick tube legs. Yuck. And once again, we are soul sisters. Open water, YUCK. Spiders like that? Double YUCK.

Devri said...

Oh my word girl, you crack me up.

I am deathly afraid of open water too!

Sarah said...

I do this too. I have this thing with killing one of "Gods creatures". I just can't smoosh them. My husband insists that some day he will own a terantula (I know I spelled that wrong) and I tell him over my dead body. Now he is leaning toward a scorpion, which is just a spider that is missing a couple of legs as far as I am concerned. So the funny part about this post is that we used to have one of those extendable play yard things for my autistic daughter so she could play outside safely. We called it the shark cage.

The Payne-Rinne Family said...

Holy hell, that thing is huge!

MiaKatia said...

I hate open water and I hate spiders. That picture gave me the chills all the way up into my scalp.

Until we went to the beach last week I never knew how much open water freaked me out. I honestly felt panicky about falling off the edge of the world and sinking into oblivion. With land you know that there is something sturdy and firm just beyond the horizon. At the ocean it is a watery grave. Ugh.

rychelle said...

HOLY COW! that thing is HUGE.
we find black widows all over our property, and they always send me shrieking.

Ben said...

Growing up those were my two biggest fears in life.

I had a friend who caught a black widow in high school and brought it in to show in a jar. The spider didn't seem that scary to me until it got spooked and moved. It was way faster than I thought it would be. Later, my friend caught a few hornets and put them in the jar and let them duke it out. Probably one of the coolest sights ever. The black widow won. Ick. I don't fear spiders, but black widows give me the heebie-geebies.

I used to be deathly afraid of open water, but I logic'ed myself into not fearing it, and did some triathlons to conquer the fear.

M-Cat said...

THAT is an awful looking spider!! I would have totally thrown it and the jar straight in the garbarge OUTSIDE!!

Kristine said...

So gross Arianne! I'm with you on the sharks. And spiders. We had 2 black widows recently so I called spider spray. Haven't seen another yet :) The guy who came out said its mating season so double yuck! Where is the thing now?

Koreena said...

CREEPY!! We had a giant one near our front door when we first moved in. I hadn't seen another widow (lots of others including a tarantula a couple house down, but no widows) until yesterday. Found it while weeding the beds. You can bet I won't be near that flower bed alone ever again!! I HATE spiders!!!!!

Najma said...

Sick...

Kado! said...

AGH!!!! that is scary!! I hate spiders....I watched Arachnophobia the other weekend with the boys...now I remember why I was SO scared of that movie....I felt things crawling on me for the rest of the weekend!!!

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Chelsea said...

I find spiders horribly scary and fascinating at the same time too.

I knew a girl in college who got bitten by a black widow. Luckily they got her to the hospital quickly, but she was pretty dang sick. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Shawn said...

AAAHHHHH!!! I usually squish those spiders with my thumb---but a black widow? Uh, uh....

L. said...

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m... I wonder if Jennie showed that to her husband, Mr. Ar-AKKKKKKKK!-naphobia.

Artistically, the Black Widow is the beauty of spiderdom. But as a kid I was so scared of one I saw on the street that I stood 6 feet away and threw rocks at it. I was afraid if I tried to step on it, it would leap onto my body and poison me dead!

I wonder why almost all humans have an innate fear and loathing of anything with lots of long, scrabbly legs.

Jaime Haney aka ArtsyFartsy.Me said...

well I understand your phobia's, but I don't share them. I live with many, many Brown Recluse spiders. They pretty much eat all the other spiders in the house, so the brown's are all we see. I just got back from the beach, and open water doesn't freak me out either. I float like Ivory Soap! But now get me in a car over water on a bridge and I do have a fear of the car plummeting in! I also have a fear of being hit by a train. go figure. good post.

Holly said...

Ohhhh I hate spiders.. seriously kill it already before it procreates and makes more...

Um.. I am totally into sharks, even though I have a HUGE fear of water. Even swimming alone in a swimming pool gets my heart beating. I have no idea why. I wanted my whole life to dive with sharks, but I think in order to do that, you have to want to get into the water..lol

André said...

Would you be afraid in a very large swimming pool? Say Olympic sized, or bigger?