Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spiders versus Murderers

We're moving house soon. The house we currently live in has a ridiculous number of problems - leaking roof, leaking sinks - in fact, leaking pretty much anywhere where water residue would smell bad or start to ferment oddly. Our downstairs bathroom and hall flooded about a month ago. It was, for lack of a better word, swampy. We managed to dry it out somewhat, but then the carpet started to form mould. I really wanted to set up a lab experiment to evolve the mould, to see if we could turn it into a new evolutionary branch of nature, but Other Half put her foot down. It squelched.

However, I could endure the problems - the constant dripping, the fact that some genius had the shower head installed at knee height so you have to crane like a foetus to get under it, the fact that only the hot tap works upstairs (and it goes from tepid to volcanic in about four seconds, so you better be damn quick if you want to keep the skin on your hands),  - if it wasn't for the constant creaking. It's a relatively new, modern house. There's absolutely no reason for it to sound like the centrepiece in a Tim Burton film. Also, it's right next to a field, which I'm fairly certain is being used by the government to grow the most hideous, determined, gigantic spiders in the entire world.

I have a few phobias. Wasps, heights and germs all rank fairly high on the Scale of Lame. But spiders are right up there at the top, just above drowning and just below being drowned by a spider. I recently read a post by Hyperbole and a Half (who has a great and hilarious blog that I have spent hours of my life on, giggling helplessly and emitting liquid from every facial orifice) about spiders. I immediately carried my laptop, power cable trailing dangerously close to the still squishy carpet, to my Other Half. I pointed at this, and explained that when I totally freak out over a spider (or indeed, over a piece of fluff on the floor, or a button, or anything that to my twitchy, paranoid peripheral vision looks remotely like a spider) this is what I see, or at least, think I see. Well, almost. I imagine them more as having a knife between their teeth as they climb rapidly towards me, multiple furred limbs blurring with speed, staring at me as the burning desire to eliminate me burns in their awful beady eyes. It's a kind of Inigo Montoya situation.

Other Half is my hero in these situations. However, being a vegetarian non-killer, she traps the spiders and releases them outside instead of killing them dead like she should. I know they'll just find their way back to base camp. They'll relay the details of the most recent mission, and the spider commanders will pore over their maps and charts, replotting my death, devising new and more ingenious ways to ambush me. Other Half thinks this is ridiculous. She says that spiders naturally enter the house. She cannot offer any explanation for the way they all seem to aim directly at me, or when I swing the bathroom door closed behind me, there is often a spider on the other side, like a kind of horror film assassin, trapping me.

Back to the creaking house of creakerdom. Let me explain, Other Half is not fearless. She has a fairly bad phobia regarding murderers being somehow in the house. I can understand this. Not many people would enjoy finding a murderer in their house, and since it's much, much harder to trap a man under a cup and throw him out the window, I can see why she considers spiders to be no real threat. However, it means that she wakes me from a deep and pleasant sleep on particularly windy nights to have this conversation:

Other Half: Wake up! Oh god, wake up!

Me: ...What?

Other Half: Someone's in the house!

Me: ...What?

Other Half: Get up! Get the hammer! GET THE HAMMER!

Me: ...What?

I usually try to pull the "what" stunt, hoping that she'll resign herself to us being murdered and go back to sleep. This has never worked, but it's worth trying just in case.

Other Half: We're going to die!

Me: (stretching) Okay fine, I'm up, I'm up. Jeez.

Other Half trembles like a puppy in a bullpen as I flick all the lights on and check the house. The noises are attributed to creaking, or to our two mischievous cats, or to the wind, and not to rapey murderers hiding in closets ready to have stabby fun. I trudge, sighing morosely, back to bed, and Other Half is appropriately appreciative of my  bravery in the face of absolutely nothing. I get back into bed, but it's usually only after Other Half's breathing starts to sound like what I like to refer to as Snuffly Hedgehog Noises that the thought occurs to me. Not murderers...It must have finally happened. The spider army are on their way, amassing to attack. Damn. Where did I put that hammer?

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