Sunday, July 31, 2005

34347/31/05 WARNING: Just a little GRAPHIC/DISTURBING

7:38 a.m. I don't particularly care for spiders. And that is why, as I lay in bed looking at my ceiling I give a start when I notice one, about 2 inches across, slowly crawl out of the air vent above my bed. Aaack! I watch it...knowing that if I move it will scream (yes, I said scream...leave me alone) and dive onto my which point it will bite me until I die because it is probably a brown recleuse.

I slowly scoot off the bed and move into the other corner of the room. I CANNOT sleep with a spider above my bed. What if it crawls into my mouth? What if it crawls into the bathroom and makes a nest in the toilet where it will kill me by biting my butt?

I grab a phone book and move slowly back onto the bed. It takes me 20 minutes to maneuver myself. The spider is wary and it jumps with my movements. I am sweating. I finally close my eyes, aim (I know...wrong order), and slam the book into the ceiling while similtaneously jumping off the bed and scampering into the other room. I shake out my hair and brush off my shoulders just in case it landed on me.

Long story short, I missed. I look on the floor and the book and find no withered body as my prize. Instead, I am more paranoid than ever. Oh no! I pissed it off. Now it's really going to get me.

It's after midnight now. I've moved furniture and checked behind things, but still no luck. I finally move the bed into the middle of the room and remove all the sheets and pillow cases so that it can't sneak up on me. After an hour or so, I finally fall asleep.

Yes. I am aware I have issues.

Back when I was a kid, my parents had a dirt cellar in the basement under the stairs. They kept potatoes and onions and apples from our garden down there. You had to walk through to the back of a closet and then crawl through a port hole-type door (about the size of a car window) to get inside. There was one bare lightbulb wired into the four-foot ceiling. The walls were cinder block. The whole place smelled of earth and rotting wood, which made sense since the damp dirt floor was covered with wooden planks.

The room would have freaked me out even without the grubs, centipedes, and nests of spiders that crowded the doorway and the ceiling.

Every other day my mother would call me around dinner time and send me to fetch some potatoes or some onions. I would reluctantly take a bucket down into the basement and open the door. Webs would be crossing the entryway so that I was certain a big, fat spider would fall in my hair and crawl down my shirt and bite my bare flesh if I tried to pass through.

I would sit there and watch them. Black, beady eyes. Huge pincer fangs. Some were big and furry and still. Others were black and stout and the slightest breeze would cause them to jerk and jump. Ten minutes would pass and Mom would call down to me to hurry. I would look up toward where the voice was originating and huff. I was certain this constituted some form of child abuse.

I would take a deep breath and close my eyes as I passed under the webs. There I would the middle of a room overtaken with arachnids. I would crouch down and huddle close to the floor, again examining the room to see where all of them were. Up above me. Over in the corners. Crawling in amongst the potatoes and onions. Watching me.

An old, tattered web would brush against my skin and I would jump and yelp. Then I'd hear Mom's voice again calling for me. I would hastily fill my bucket and hesitate at the doorway again. Finally, I would jump out, slam the door behind me, and run upstairs as fast as my little legs would take me.

So, you can imagine how I feel when several years later I am at the ME's office and a body is brought in that has been decomposing in the forest for a week. The woman went missing from a local WalMart parking lot several days ago. It turned out her step-son and his friends murdered her because she wouldn't let them borrow her car.

What was left of the body was teaming with insects. There were bugs as big as my hand making their way out of pockets and shirt sleeves. Interestingly, there were also roaches...which are urban insects and indicate that she was moved there from another location. Turns out they stashed her in a basement for a few days before dumping her in the forest.

The Chief ME is there watching me as I double glove my hands and prepare to reach into the pockets and remove any valuables or identification. Just as I reach for a pocket, a three-inch-long centipede slithers its way out and plops down onto the tray, where it disappears under the body. I pull my hand back and scream. I close my eyes and curse myself. Oh, no I did NOT just scream. But I did. I glance up at the Cheif sheepishly and she narrows her eyes. "Well, go ahead!" she says. Ugh.

I thrust my hand into the pocket, ignoring the little bodies I feel scrambling to get out of my way. The pants are wet with broken down, liquefied fat...called adipocere. No valuables in that pocket. Come on, Polly. Hold it together. I move on to the next and methodically go through each pocket, trying very hard to control the urge to wrinkle my nose and say, "Ew, ew ew!". After I am finished, the ME leaves and I do the heebie jeebie dance for about 10 minutes before pushing the tray into the cooler.


jane said...

my mother *loves* spiders. i understand her argument that they kill other bugs (and when you live in FL/GA, there are a lot of bugs that want to come inside and bite you...). anyway, my mom refuses to kill spiders. her house (the one she just moved out of last week after living there for 30 years) was teeming with spiders. i grew up in that house, and as far as i know, i never had any spider incidents, so i'm not sure why i'm terrified of them while my mom loves them. wanna know one big reason why moving sucked? mom had lots of pictures on the walls. let's just say every single one had a giant spider living between it and the wall. then there was the spider who had turned the power strip (into which everything from the entertainment center was plugged) into a giant web/nest. and did i mention that since my mom was out of town for most of the two weeks leading up to her move, i got to play with the spiders? i did the heebie jeebie dance numerous times....

Polly P.I. said...

Hi, Jane!!!

Next time I see you we can do the heebie jeebie dance together. ;-)

BTW, I got your email and will be writing you back soon! Lots of news!

kitty said...

Spiders I don't mind, as long as we're not up close & personal. But those other creepies? And snakes? NO WAY JOSE!

kitty said...

When I read about your Puerto REEEco adventures, all I could picture were SNAKES.

Olga said...

My worst spider incident:
I was living in a crappy apartment in St. Paul. My sister was visiting, she was taking a nap (after a fun time out on the town the night before).
I was in the shower, washing my hair and singing (I like to sing in the shower). My head was tilted back toward the ceiling. I opened my eyes, and I kid you not, there was a huge brown spider lowering itself directly over/onto my head! One blood-curlding scream later and my sister ran into the bathroom, the spider frantically ran up the string of web on which he was lowering, and I frantically jumped out of the tub.

I have never washed my hair with my eyes closed again.

jane said...

That reminds me of another spider tale (sorry to be such a blog-hog!). There was a guy i dated years ago (we'll call him Guy). The *very first time* Guy leans over and starts kissing me, a HUGE BLACK SPIDER crawls over his shoulder!! So, of course my reaction is to pull back, scream loudly, and hit him in the shoulder. Guy, not having seen the spider, assumes that my reaction is to him leaning over and kissing me out of the blue. It took a while to sort that one out. (Damn spider should've been a sign. Oh well. Talk about your heebie-jeebie dance!)

Polly P.I. said...

LOL, Jane!

That is hilarious! I bet he never got that reaction from a kiss before!

Slyeyes said...

*after reading post and comments, starts feeling invisible little legs crawling up her back and shoulders; heads back to shower -- with eyes open!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

How do you feel about lizards? In Asia they allow geckos to live in their homes since the geckos eat insects and spiders. The lizards like to stay on the ceiling, and unless you look at them while lying in bed you'd never know they're there.
Just a thought.

BTW, I'm a fearless spider killer if you're ever in dire straits again.

Larry said...

I have lived in the same house off and on since before I could walk. When I was about four I decided to go for a walk through the field by myself. The grass was about as tall as I was and I inadvertently walked face first into a spider web. It was thick and stringy and didn't break from the pressure of my face. Soon the web's owner came scurrying across my nose. It was about two inches long, but when you're four that's huge. It was black with a yellow belly.

To this day I hate spiders.

Tamara said...

You know, I'm well-practiced at distancing myself from the regular gory or emotive dead-body details & such...

But spiders? And insects crawling out of pockets? Apparently, that is where the line is drawn.

Brat said...

I was at grandma's one weekend, and she sent me to the pump house to get a hoe and a shovel. When I opened the door and reached for the hoe, I heard this strange tapping noise. It was like hundreds of fingers tapping lightly on a table. I reached up and pulled the cord to turn on the light, and this huge spider jumped down and wrapped me in a cocoon ….. not really.

What did happen was that I noticed that the entire ceiling was covered in "Daddy Longlegs". I don't think these are technically spiders, and I know they cannot hurt you. But seeing them all bouncing up and down (upside-down) and all making a tapping noise with their bodies was just weird. I was like they were complaining that the light was too bright, or I woke them or something.

Olga said...

Brat, you're right, Daddy longlegs cannot hurt humans. But they are actually one of the most poisonous spiders out there. However, their "fangs" (or whatever you call them) are not long or strong enough to puncture human skin. So to us, they are harmless.
(Information courtesy of a first-aid training/course I took.)

Polly P.I. said...

*emerges from under desk*

That was the most disturbing thing I've read here yet, Brat.

Brat said...

Olga ... Really? Wow, if I'd run into one with abby-normally strong fangs, I wouldn't even be here. I used to "play" with them. More like a cat plays with a mouse, because the last sound of the play session was a squish.

Polly ... not to worry. I have never seen one of those in a city setting. But I used to go out to the pump house every once in a while to see if they were still there. A good sharp slap against the side of the little shed, would start them "thumping" again. But that was back in the days of my childhood, when I was still immortal.

Tamara said...

This office building is kinda old. I don't wear open-toed shoes because sometimes there are tiny scorpions in here. I don't eat at my desk because the ants will swarm. I wasn't afraid of the daddy longlegs that are all over the place. Ya know, till NOW. $#%&$%!! ***HEEBIE-JEEBIE CHECKING THE CLASSIFIEDS & RESUME-UPDATING!!***

Susan said...

*Doing a little heeby jeeby dance of her own*

Every where I have worked there have been spiders. Probably not poisonous ones, but creepy looking ones that skitter around. Yech.

At my first job, I was reading one night. "IT" by Stephen King as it happens. IT was just revealed to be a spider...when I looked up at my microphone for some reason.

There was a spider on it. Seeing it when I did, reading what I was, it scared me silly. I screamed. It fell off the microphone. I squished it.

Webs of any kind really really bother's summertime and the tent caterpillars have started the nests. I really really hate the sight of them.

Brat said...

Polly (0r other charter members of the heeby jeeby club ) - DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING ...

Olga - There was this twisted ex-marine co-worker....well not really twisted, but the man could eat more ice-cream and cake and not gain an ounce over his 190 pounds. It's not fair.... oops rambling ...

He did keep a tarantula as a pet in an aquarium. Apparently these critters shed their exoskeleton periodically as they grow. He kept the really lifelike, but empty discarded shell on his shelf at work. It was about 5-6 inches across. If memory serves, it was black and a kind of orange. Hairy of course. He said it was to discourage annoying people from "bugging" him.

It didn't work, I bugged him anyway.

Bismuth said...


Relax. This information courtesy of

There is no reference to any pholcid spider biting a human and causing any detrimental reaction. If these spiders were indeed deadly poisonous but couldn't bite humans, then the only way we would know that they are poisonous is by milking them and injecting the venom into humans. For a variety of reasons including Amnesty International and a humanitarian code of ethics, this research has never been done. Furthermore, there are no toxicological studies testing the lethality of pholcid venom on any mammalian system (this is usually done with mice). Therefore, no information is available on the likely toxic effects of their venom in humans, so the part of the myth about their being especially poisonous is just that: a myth. There is no scientific basis for the supposition that they are deadly poisonous and there is no reason to assume that it is true.

mike weasel said...

Wow, adipocere. New vocabulary word of the day!

I find it odd that you have no problems with rotting human corpses, but spiders? ACK!! Ah well, we all have our quirks.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Polly: don't you find it odd that you can go into a neighborhood you describe as 10 out of 10 on the danger (paraphrasing level), or use an excrement-covered toilet in said neighborhood while watched over by a huge scary crazy guy who wants you for his girlfriend, but a SPIDER scares you silly?

Just asking.

Oh, and I'm with the Cap'n in case you need spider killers. No problemo.

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