Arachnophobia in the Choir Loft

Spiders make me shudder. A spider is the one critter I will ask someone else to deal with for me.

The first spider I can remember was a colorful, bulgy garden spider with angular, threatening legs. The web was fastened to the marigolds, right where this preschooler wanted to play.

As repulsed as I was at the creature, I was fascinated with the web. It was like an intricate crocheted doily like my grandmother made. And it had a wonderful strip of rickrack right through the center.

I wonder if spiders have the ability to sense which human has a spider phobia–even while this human is singing in a church choir, in front of the congregation, facing them.

Once a spider, lurking in the rafters, decided to descend to the choir loft–above the alto section, on a Sunday morning, while we were singing. It dangled right above my hymnal.

I began to overheat. I blew at the beast. It floated off. But the menace soon swung back, ambushing my hair. Oh oh, not in my hair! I swayed away from it. Swatting it would mean I would have to touch it. I felt faint.

Maybe I could reach up with the hymnal and slam it upon the awful arachnid, and squeeze as hard as I could. But oh, the mess it would leave. And the commotion it would make.

The hymn was finally over. We sat down, farther from the impending peril. But I kept watch for it in the airspace above. A nearby tenor leaned over and asked if I was okay.

Well, no. There’s this spider.

He took charge, thrusting his white robed arm up to the threat and dispatching it in one swift swing. Several astonished singers turned toward the action.

Though embarrassed, I wanted to laugh and cheer.

But I feigned nonchalance.

(1995)

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