70927lthumbsparePerhaps I should see this movie. I hear that it is pretty lame. I sort of wanted to see it because it was filmed in Cambria, about thirty miles to the northwest of where Brent and I were in our last year of studying horticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo at the time. Yet, I never select movies. I always leave that up to whomever I am seeing the particular movie with. None of my friends ever wanted to see Arachnophobia. The one friend who you would think would want to see it because of where and when it was filmed wanted nothing to do with it. You see, Brent, the famous horticulturist and landscape designer who works outside where spiders live, is afflicted with Arachnophobia.

About a year before the filming of Arachnophobia began, in early 1988, Brent lived in Sequoia Hall at Cal Poly to the north of San Luis Obispo, and I lived south of town, about twenty minutes away. Brent called me up early one morning as I was getting ready to leave for school to tell me about a spider in his dorm room. Perhaps “tell” is not the best word to describe his frantic panic. I mean, he was totally freaked out!

I told him to wake up Jerry, his roommate who usually slept in a bit later, and have him remove the spider. He got even more frantic and told me that Jerry was up in the room. Well, . . . if Jerry was up in the room, and Brent was not with Jerry, I just had to ask, “Where are you?!” “I’m calling from the payphone in the lobby!”, Brent explained frantically. (Telephones were hardwired in 1988.) Okay, so this complicated things a bit. He actually ran from the room and down from the third floor before stopping long enough to use a telephone? I told Brent that he should go back up to his room and have Jerry remove the spider. He really freaked out, and exclaimed, “Are you not listening?! THERE IS A SPIDER UP THERE!!”

Somehow, after explaining that Jerry did not answer the telephone when he had tried to call a few time before calling me, Brent convinced me to rush over and stop by before class to remove the spider for him. Brent was in his pajamas without slippers when I met him in the lobby and proceeded up to his room, where Jerry had just woken up to find Brent gone and the door wide open. We both went to the lower left sill of the window where Brent had seen the terrifying spider, and found it, dead. Yes. . . dead. I rushed over there, parked in a red zone, rushed upstairs, all to kill . . . a dead spider.

Well, it was not exactly a dead spider. It was the molted exoskeleton of a spider. In retrospect, I should have told Brent either that it was a dead spider, or that we had found and killed it. You see, Brent and I studied entomology together, so we knew how this molting process worked for certain insects. Arachnids like mites and spiders use a similar technique. As they grow too large for their external skeletal structure, they shed it, and then hide out somewhere while their new exterior hardens into a new exoskeleton. So when I told Brent that we found the molted exoskeleton, he freaked out all over again knowing that the spider was still hiding in his room, and that it was BIGGER!

I do not remember how Jerry and I got Brent to go home the following evening. Perhaps his second best option was to come to my house, where spiders were quite common. We never actually saw the spider.

13 thoughts on “Arachnophobia

  1. It’s funny, but since I have been living in the country, I have got used to spiders. If I don’t bother them, they leave me alone. There was a time we had a few Argiope bruennichi, wasp spiders. They had migrated into Switzerland slowly from the warmer countries and are really fascinating. One of those where you usually only see the queen sized female as they survive to lay the eggs after killing the male (and eating it I think). Otherwise we only get the common garden spiders, which can bite, but usually they just hang aroud and make food parcels in their web.

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  2. I had a very similar experience – again before the days of mobile phones. A friend came round in the middle of the night (I lived in an attic room in a very old Victorian house in Manchester) to say there was a spider in her bath. I got up, got dressed and went with her to where she lived a couple of miles away (walked – no buses at that time of night) To be fair the spider which was in her bath was biggish, but the bathroom wasn’t even on the same floor as her rented room; she could have locked her door on it! I got rid of it and then walked the couple of miles home and back to bed…

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    1. I have heard about the venomous spiders. Someone here was telling me about them. Most of our spiders are scarier than they really are, although black widows and brown recluses can be pretty nasty. Tarantulas are pretty harmless. I still don’t want them coming about. They sometimes end up in weird places.


      1. Our trap door spider, red back spider and white tail spider are all venomous and the trap door one can be lethal. I used to have the red backs in my garden but don’t see them around now.

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  3. Poor guy. I think spiders are interesting and had a big one on a window-sized web outside the kitchen once. Every time I looked at that web, I knew it would have been gone as soon as my mother saw that web. She did NOT want bugs in the house or even doing things to the windows outside…

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