When I was a kid every spider was a big one, and every really huge spider was a Trianchula. To say it right you’ve got to say it in an Aussie accent, hold your nose, and screw your face up at the second syllable, okay? Tri-AN-chula. As in “Muuuuuum, there’s a triANchula in the car! Get rid of that TRIANCHULA!”
I remember my first one. It was orange. I was loud.
Sometime, around the age of six, somebody told me that it wasn’t a trianchula, actually, it was a tarantula. And, then, sometime around the age of eight, somebody told me that it was a huntsman spider and that there’s no such thing as tarantulas anyway. Well. That’s all right then.
Huntsman are about as bad as it gets. They hate the rain, so on wet days they go to the nearest dry place, which is sometimes the woodpile, or the bedroom ceiling, or the toilet wall, or the front door, or the car. And they’re big. They’re freakin’ huge monsters of things that make grown men stop the car randomly in the nearest parking space and jump out leaving the door wide open and say they’re going to walk home. Oh. Maybe it was me who said they’d walk home. But it was the grown man next to me who jumped out first. I remember that. We never did find that spider, either.
Funny thing is though now I’ve got kids who are around six and around eight, and sometimes down at their school I hear other kids yelling out to their mums about seeing a trianchula. The myth is passed down from generation to generation.
There’s a few things I used to be frightened of that I later found out didn’t exist: like Transylvania, Count Dracula, Vampire bats, and tarantulas. Life feels calmer when you know it’s really only Pennsylvania, fruit bats and huntsman*.
I don’t remember when it was that I discovered that tarantulas actually existed. Probably after the age of fifteen when I saw the movie Arachnophobia. Do you remember that one? I’m NOT going to describe it here. Needless to say that if I’d known then what I know now I would have been looking for ways to exit the planet and quick smart, too.
Tarantulas are real.
And not only that, I find out a few days ago that they’re not confined to the South American jungle, but that they’ve disregarded all common sense and live in California as well. California, USA. That very and self-same California that I will be actually standing on in fifteen short weeks. No longer the-other-side-of-the-world, but under my feet.**
I had a huntsman spider on my leg once. Crawling up the inside of my jeans, on my actual skin. I learned a valuable lesson that day: sometimes the best thing for people is to have the worst thing happen. Something unexpected occurs: you cope.
We are stronger (and at the same time more fragile) than we think we are.
I might pack a very large can of fly-spray though. You know…just in case.
*I know NOW, okay? Yes, even Transylvania and Vampire bats are real. Except I don’t think those things go together. Although I could be wrong.
**I’m assured by my friends who live there that I WON’T be seeing any tarantulas. So far I believe them. Although they could be wrong, too.