I AM afraid of spiders.
Correction: I am really, really afraid of spiders.
Irrationally so, of course, because as I live in Ireland, the only dangerous spiders to be found, are in the tropical house in the zoo.
It's a long time since I've been there. We used to take the offspring a lot when they were younger. They were fascinated. So was I, in a slightly horrified but trying-not-to-be-in-front-of-my-kids kind of way.
I'm not sure if there's a deep, psychological reason for my fear of spiders. Obviously, I'm not an arachnophobe. I can actually walk into a room where there's a spider. Once the spider is on the far side of the room. And it's no bigger than the tip of my little finger. And one of us is leaving the room soon.
They're usually an OMG-he's-so-cute-what's-he-called?!
I am sure I am afraid of other creatures too. Snakes probably. I've never actually seen one that isn't behind reinforced glass. St Patrick had the right idea when he drove them out of Ireland. What we were thinking, when we decided to bring a few of them back in, is anyone's guess!
And obviously I wouldn't be all that keen on rodents. The wild ones. Although I know for a fact that I'm not as bad as some people.
I have a friend who is so terrified of mice, that she can't bear to say the word. Her friends are not allowed to mention it in her company. If they must be referred to, one says, 'the animal that rhymes with house'. I'm not kidding.
One year, Santa Claus brought her youngest child a hamster. I quite like hamsters. They respond well to being handled and they don't have a long tail. They have tiny ears, and a habit of storing food in their cheeks. On the cute scale, they're usually an OMG-he's-so-cute-what's-he-called?!
Hammy the Hamster was resident...the friend and I made a pact.
The friend was having none of it. The hamster lived in a very clean hutch in a corner of the youngest child's bedroom. During the whole time it lived there, the friend refused to go into her child's room, unless the hutch was first moved or covered.
As far as she was concerned, there was no difference between Hammy the Hamster (names have been changed to protect the rights of the rodent) and every mouse in existence.
Spiders, on the other hand, keep showing up in their web loads.
The same friend, however, is not afraid of spiders. And she lives right across the street.
For the two years that Hammy the Hamster was resident on our road, the friend and I made a pact: one initiated by her. The deal was that if Hammy managed to escape his hutch, the friend would come running across to me. I would go in, capture the mad hamster and return him safely to The Hutch, Corner of the Bedroom.
If I in turn, encountered a spider, she would come straight over and return it to the garden. It was a deal which suited us both.
The only problem of course, is that Hammy has long since gone to hamster heaven. Spiders, on the other hand, keep showing up in their web loads.
It's as if they've heard on the arachnid grapevine, that we're a spider-friendly house (they're delusional), or that there are lots of places to hide (it's an old house, so they're probably right), or that there's a plentiful food supply.
There could definitely be something to that last theory. Because the second I open a window or door, at least one fly joins us inside. It's as though they just circle, biding their time, until I cave. But I digress.
It hardly seems fair to the friend that I would call on her help these days. She doesn't need me, to deal with escaping hamsters. So I have to face my fears alone.
The friend's youngest child is no longer really a child. She's 17 now. Actually, she'll be 18 at the end of the summer.
The thing about 18 is that it's a very special birthday. Deserving of a party and wonderful, thoughtful gifts.
I wonder if she'd like a new hamster?
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