An alarming number of pretty loaded psychological terms have made their way into the popular vernacular in the last few decades, been abused to the point of meaninglessness, and are now bandied about with shameful disregard, filling the world once again with people walking around saying things (usually very loudly) that they don’t mean at all.
In just the last month I have had no fewer than 5 women describe themselves to me as “anal.” These were not interactions with hookers, nymphomaniacs, future ex-wives, or anyone with whom I am intimate enough for discussions of analism to be appropriate, but rather very recent acquaintances or coworkers. And while contemporary American society may have become inured to this term to the point not batting a sphincter when it’s thrown around, I have not. Last week, a woman whom I had just met said, “I’m very anal about my desk.” If I were to take the literally, well, the mind simply reels at the various ways such a statement could be interpreted. To consider it a bit of an invitation would not be much of a stretch (sorry to use “anal” and “stretch” in such propinquity, but if it will help just one of you to quit bringing your anus into otherwise polite conversation, so be it). Even when viewed through the the filter of Freudian theory, there is no getting around that what you have just told me is that they are no more psychologically developed than a three-year-old, and that since you haven’t figured out your vagina yet, you’re just really into pooping. “But that’s no what I meant,” are the cries of the contemporary anal masses. But that’s what you fucking said. Not my problem.
Another psychological term that is gang-raped more or less constantly these days is “phobia.” The blame for this falls squarely on political correctness and the bullshitty notion propounded through the 70s that the average person’s self esteem is so pathetically fragile that it will buckle and lead to complete nervous collapse if it is so much as looked at crossly. The concepts of dislike, contempt, or even hate somehow became simply too much to bear at some point, and pop psychologists began promoting the perverse notion that these concepts don’t actually even exist themselves, but are false behaviors all masking deep-seeded phobias. If someone somehow mistreats homosexuals, they are comfortably labeled “homophobic,” with the dismissive explanation: “They are just afraid of gay people.” Not necessarily. There is a very realistic chance that there are shitty people (“haters,” as the kids are prone to say) walking around with absolutely no fear of gay people: they simply do not like them. Somebody lips off about all those goddamn drunken Irish people, they are simply labeled Celtophobes, and dismissed as cowards, which is both ludicrous and dangerous.
I mention this now only because I have been called an arachnophobe, which throws me into dire states of piss off and makes me want to throw pumpkins at people’s heads. I hate – not fear – hate spiders. There is no fucking phobia involved: just pure, white-hot contempt. If one insists on assigning a Latinate label to me describing my feelings, contemptus arachni would be vastly more fitting that anything involving phobia. I doubt that I can accurately describe the visceral violence that happens anytime I see anything with 8 legs other to say that my impulses turn ugly, merciless, and brutal. I will burn spiders alive. Fuck spiders. If there is a reason that I am not granted entry into heaven, elysium, valhalla, or wherever it is the good men go, it will be for the admitted atrocities I have committed against the arachnid species. This is not a confession: this is a boast. It is my sincere hope that at the end of my days, when I am horizontal with a tube in my nose, I will not be allowed to die before being dragged to the Hague and tried for attempted genocide of spiders. That’s how much fuck spiders.
Knowing this, you can likely imagine my reaction when I came home from dinner last Friday night. walked into my room, and saw the biggest, blackest spider I had ever seen live, in person, sitting on the floor at the foot of my bed, looking up to the bed with the patent intention of climbing in and taking a repose before eating whatever large mammal would eventually crawl into the bed, which large mammal, in this case, would be me.
I did not feel fear, but the sheer size of this thing stopped me in my tracks. I froze, and actually said, “Mother of God!” There was a double take involved. And then my mind started working. “That’s not real,” I thought. No way. It had to be a toy…a Halloween prop left there by my roommate as a prank. I had, after all, not seen the thing move yet. So I leaned over, bringing only my head closer to the abomination, to get a better look: it was fucking real. I could see it breathing. This thing was so big the laws of physics insisted that it had to have evolved lungs to breathe.
Still, I was not afraid. But I was faced with some logistical problems. The damn thing was simply too huge to just step on. This thing was going to fight back. And there was a possibility that it would win that fight. No…I had to kill it. I grabbed my sword from the head of the bed and drew it. I was going to run this fucker through. But the thing was so big that if I stabbed it, the amount of blood that would flow would make the floor look like a crime scene. And I’m a renter here. I would lose my deposit over blood stains on the carpet. No. Shit. I sheathed my sword. Loathe as I was to admit it, I was going to have to capture the thing. Take it prisoner. But in what? I was going to have to go see what containers I had in the kitchen, but that would mean leaving this thing alone in my room. If it was gone when I got back, I would never be able to sleep in this house again. In all likelihood, I would burn the whole place down. But I had no choice. I went to the kitchen.
Whatever was going to be used to trap and contain this awful goddamn hairy black nightmare needed to meet a few requirements. First, it needed to be transparent. It would not do to have this thing living in comfortable darkness, plotting God knows what kind of escape plans and revenge, invisible to me. I needed to be able to see what the fucker was up to at any time of the day or night. The container also had to be exceptionally heavy, for this 8-legged menace was so large that I knew he would be able to reach under any regular light plastic cup, and either just hold it with one spider hand while he walked the rest of his spidery awfulness out the hell from under the cup with vengeance in his heart. Or he might just flip the whole cup over, pick it up, and throw it at me before shooting a web at me and desiccating me with his massive fangs. A quick visual inventory of the cabinet revealed a fairly reasonable potential solution: a magnificent crystal goblet (my roommate’s) that weighed enough to properly imprison the menace in my room at least temporarily.
When I returned to my room, the spider was still there, unmoved. What a fool I had been to think this thing was going anywhere. His attitude was downright arrogant. I could feel his many eyes glaring at me. I crouched to attack; so did he. I lunged, and so did he. After an awful and epic fight, Darth Spider was down to seven legs and properly trapped in a crystal palace. The leg I took in the fight was actually bigger than most spiders I have killed, and watching it flop about and contract on the floor and squirt blood around was beyond disturbing, but the spider was contained. And he was pissed off. Still, I felt no fear. The sun had set, and all was dark outside. I was going to have to spend the night in the same room as a goddamn demon. The bevelled glass strangely magnified and contorted the spider as it fought and struggled inside, making it look even larger and blacker and more evil than it actually was. I could actually hear its now-seven legs clicking around the edges of the glass. Maybe there was still a chance that this thing could hulk out if it got angry enough and just break out of its glass cage. I stacked three of the heaviest books from my shelves on top of the glass. For some reason, I thought to myself (having exactly no one else to think to), “If this thing starts screaming in the middle of the night, I’m going to murder it on the spot, blood stains be damned.” Which is just weird, because I’ve never heard of a spider that screams. But I’ve also never heard of a spider that was big enough to give me a run for my money in a rasslin’ match.
That night’s was an uneasy sleep.
SATURDAY – Vivid aracho-intensive dreams. Rather than my usual 20-minute waking process, I sit bolt upright immediately upon waking, grab my glasses, and lean forward, checking on my prisoner. Even from a distance away, I can see the hairy black bastard is still there, imprisoned and pissed. I can’t help but think that this situation is suddenly like that of Walter White’s during season 1 of Breaking Bad, when he has the guy chained up in Jesse’s basement and has to figure out what to do with him. I spend the day doing my best to ignore the spider, but question why I am keeping him alive. That night when I go to bed, I’m not worried that the thing is going to start screaming, but rather that it might begin to attempt to charm me. If it tries to charm me, or tell me jokes, or engage me in low-rent Socratic banter about the ethics of our present situation, instant murder avec sword.
SUNDAY – The Lord’s Day. And even Jesus counseled mercy for all God’s creatures. But I don’t think there were spiders when Jesus did his thing. And even if there were, I am not Jesus.
MONDAY – Nobody likes Mondays, but I especially dislike them when I wake up in the same room as the antichrist. He is no longer moving, but he’s not on his back in the universal symbol for dead-ass spider. I Google “what’s the lifespan of a big spider.” I don’t include “without food” because I’ve been so full of hate and rage for this thing constantly for more than three days and it’s started to cloud my thinking. With dire results. When the computer tells me “two years,” I flip shit. I call my spiritual advisor and apprise him of the situation.
“Why don’t you just take it down the street, release it, and be done?”
“Because he’ll just follow me home. He’ll come back. Apparently he has a key to my house. Not acceptable. This is not just a spider…it’s a goddamn terrorist. I’m calling the White House. Maybe Uncle Barrack has room for this fucker out on Gitmo.”
“We can talk about it during your appointment tomorrow. Don’t get drunk and forget this time. And bring your co-pay.”
TUESDAY – Wine.
WEDNESDAY – It has been five days. I’m guessing that there is oxygen getting into the glass through the carpet. But this thing has had no food or water for at least 5 days. It lost a limb. That should be more than enough to kill even the most evil, vile creature. I remove the heavy book from the top of the glass. No movement. It hasn’t moved in three days. I tap on the glass. Still no movement. I tap harder. This thing is acting just like something that is dead. So carefully, slowly, barely perceptibly, I raise one side of the glass. And BAM…the thing leaps at the gap, lunging toward me. I slam the glass back down. And I cuss. I wish ill upon this thing. I hate it. Why won’t it just die?
THURSDAY – Whiskey. Hot dogs. Grappa. Benzedrine.
FRIDAY – Okay. I did it. I took the spider outside and executed it. To ensure that nothing like this ever happen again, I made a propaganda film. I put on my black fatigues and ski mask, hung a huge pirate flag on the wall, and read a long statement denouncing arachnids as a species and assuring that the streets would run with spider blood until the entire insect world agreed to a complete withdrawal from my home immediately and no future incursion here or anywhere else I lay my head.
Begun the arachno-jihad has.
To be continued.