Grace, a celebrated actor, sat on her
chair in readiness for an interview. She was startled when she saw a huge spider
hovering by the window. But instead of screaming she got up and lifted the
catch. The spider darted through the open gap. Which made Grace feel good about
being so in control. She asked herself what was her worst spider experience. And
came up with the following:
That time when she and her friend Jayne
were nine years old and a spider ran out of the old metal teapot in the shed
when they kicked it over. Because they were playing how to dance like a
monkey. Their favourite game. As
they swung low then high their feet crashed into the pot on a flimsy shelf. The
spider fled and the two screeched in terror. Grace’s mother was busy clearing
the shed and she looked a tad put out. She said later that was the moment when
Grace learned to be frightened of spiders. And insisted Grace caught the fear
from Jayne. So where had Jayne caught it from, Grace wondered? But how could you catch fear anyway, she said
to herself. It wasn’t a disease. Actually, that wasn’t the worst spider
experience because Grace and Jayne were frightened-and-screeching together. And
there was a bit of fun in that. Also, Grace’s mother liked spiders and said
they were good and got rid of flies and helped to keep things clean. So there
was a bit of comfort to be had as well.
What about when she lived in the dusty
cottage with Jake, her then boyfriend? A spider rose on rear legs right next to
them, as though delivering a warning that it was about to attack. But this was
not the worst experience either because love was mixed in with everything else
that happened then, even that.
Well, there was that other incident. A
spider had unexpectedly concealed itself under a cloth and Grace had caught sight of it when
she’d lifted up the corner. She hadn’t been able to stop shuddering. It was hairy, and so angular. No, because,
she was softened by seeing the creature had eyes.
Then there was the time this spider ran down a curtain and Grace’s partner Mick caught it to put out in the garden. But it bit his hand hard and he killed it by accident in the shock of the moment. And that was very sad. But no, because it was dead and gone so there was a bit of relief for her in that.
Or when, all furry in its netty corner
of the kitchen in her new friend Bill’s house, a spider bobbed and leapt up
over and over. But even though she couldn’t help seeing its roving shadow
inside the tacky web Grace felt this sudden rush of warmth. Because she was
sure it wasn’t about to come out of its cosy nest. Which meant that she was safe.
But it had really got to be the
occasion that Grace stepped out of the bath and got her towel from behind the
washbasin. She’d glanced sideways and seen something running up her bare
shoulder. At the same time this was reflected in the bathroom mirror. It was
the biggest spider ever. So this just had to be the very worst experience.
Grace was hunched forwards yet with her shoulders jerking backwards. And she
couldn’t help repeating this awkward movement even though the spider had run
away by then. In fact she found she was unable to stop. Months later, whenever
she told other people what she’d gone through she’d still kept on reproducing
the way she had expressed her horror. Which was as often as she had an
audience. Because there was something in her that needed to tell everyone and
to make the perfect actions to go with the tale. And with every time she told
them there was a reduction in her own bad feeling as it seeped further and
further into the performance itself. So still no. No! Because that was how she
learned to act.