“Leave it where I can find it easily.” This was said with a grin of pure, unholy glee. I duly placed the small, plastic object in a convenient location, knowing full well what he was going to do with it. I didn’t have to know the details. I didn’t even have to ask who the victim would be. It was obvious.
The odd thing is that until recently, they were both as bad. Both terrified of spiders for some unknown reason. They hadn’t been, once upon a time. I had made sure of that. There are few things worse than an unreasoning phobia. For me, it isn’t spiders. My phobia doesn’t even bite. I hid it for years… but there came a point where I was forced to come out of the closet and admit that I, Sue Vincent, am what is known in the vernacular as a wuss.
But having lived with that horror most of my life, I was determined my sons would not have the same problem. Now, I never liked spiders particularly. Not afraid of them at all, just wary of the fact that they turn up in the most awkward of places. Like underwear. And bedroom ceilings. And cereal packets. So I would, given the choice, avoid their presence. Raising the boys it became obvious that if I showed the least hesitation they would learn to fear, so I learned to pretend. Same with the dentist. And of course, pretending there was nothing fear taught them well and gave them a good grounding. It also had the rather surprising effect of removing my own fears. Apart, of course, from The Phobia.
But they didn’t know about that.
I recall the huge fake spider, all hairy and realistic, that we had hung on a thread ready to drop in front of my brother’s face. I recall the scream and the two satisfied grins. There was no fear then but at some point the pair of them developed a real aversion to arachnids. One, who shall remain nameless, would regularly shout for rescue, even in his teens. Even in the middle of the night. This particular son could not even bear fake spiders and the incident with the remote controlled tarantula will live in memory and would probably have made the Guinness Book of Records for the longest leap from a standing start whilst screaming.
And then there was Alan.
Alan was… perhaps still is… a small and insignificant spider who took up residence in my son’s hallway. Just above the ultrasonic spider repeller. He most inconveniently wove his webs around the door, moving ‘house’ several times and festooning the ceiling with his handiwork. My son adopted him. Why, I will never know. I was not, to my chagrin, allowed to touch the webs, but told in no uncertain terms to be careful not to damage them. Alan was there to stay. It seemed this son had got over the phobia.
The other one, however, has not. Even though he has managed to make friends with an eight legged individual in his shed… a shiny black creature that seldom moves. Which is why his brother had asked me to leave the rather realistic fake spider within easy reach the other day. As I said, I knew who the victim would be.
Sometimes our plans work brilliantly, other times they fizzle a bit. Sometimes they backfire and the popular understanding of karma comes into play. I had placed the plastic spider near the weights bench. My son had completely forgotten about it, till he saw it ‘looking at him’.
I wish I’d been a fly on the wall…
Or, given the fate of flies…perhaps not.