Posted by: tlnemethy | May 12, 2013


The amygdala is a portion of the brain that controls the four F’s of life: fight or flight, food desires and fornication. When stimulated by any external influence, the amygdala reacts and, in turn, the body responds. We all hope (unproven assumption) that when we’re confronted with a situation that demands fight or flight, we stand strong and brave against our fears. I’ve always wanted to be the hero at some point, and no matter the reason.

Today though, I was confronted with my first true fight/flight situation. Things did not go as I had hoped.

I don’t like spiders, but after having lived in what I believe to be the spider capital of the world, I thought I was at least desensitized to their eight-legged presence. False. Apparently, moving back to my hometown has resulted in increasing sensitivity due to their lacking presence.

Anyways, today I went for a ride with Papa Bear so he could check out how my car was running after he (foolishly?) let me under the hood. He’s putting Squirtle through her paces on the highway when I look over. Call it intuition, maybe even the unsettling awareness of eyes upon me, but I looked over at him without a clear reason and I nearly died right there. Sitting on the sleeve of his shirt, mere centimeters from arm skin, was the biggest tarantula I’ve ever seen in New England. Seriously, this thing could’ve carted him around had it so desired.

Now, let me put this back into perspective. It wasn’t actually a tarantula: just a big-bodied, and hairy black spider, but it still made my heart constrict to the size of a quarter and then punch itself through my chest. I froze. No heroic smooshing from me. I sat there, maybe even contorting my body tighter against myself and closer to my door as I mentally prepared to launch myself from the moving vehicle.

My eyes were locked on the spider. And he was looking right back at me with his eight beady eyes, not moving really, but just menacing me from his standstill. “You need to pull over right now.” I’m not sure if I spoke normally, but I’m pretty sure I tried to stay cool so it didn’t hear my voice and attack like the tarantula in Jungle 2 Jungle.

Saying those words, of course, makes it seem like a dire emergency. Which it was, but maybe not quite so dire as I thought. Papa Bear gets this horrified look on his face like I might be gonna puke or I’m having a stroke or something of which I’m the only one who knows. “What’s wrong?” My eyes are still locked on that spider because, even though it doesn’t have long legs, its body is the size of a silver dollar. “Just pull over, there is the biggest spider in the world on you.”

So, in the spirit someone who knows the need is present, Papa Bear pulls off to the most inconvenient stretch of the highway while telling me to hit it or get it off or anything. I don’t even attempt it. Instead he comes to a complete stop and does one of those moves where you aren’t even attempting to kill the spider, but merely to remove it from your person as fast as possible. It brushes off to the tiny crack between the car seat and the center console where the  parking brake and shifter are.

I know immediately that the spider is not dead and has now returned to a place even more dangerous than my father’s arm; a place of the unknown crevices of my car.

In my mind I’m mentally calculating the speed at which spiders move, narrowing down the probability that it is still waiting in the crack to one in which it has sensed danger and run around the center console to my side of the vehicle. We are once again driving at this point because Papa Bear knows it fell on his side of the car.  That DID NOT comfort me.

I’m sitting stock-still, my body curved like a question mark so that my head can still watch the crevice like a hawk while the majority of my body years to open the door and spring to safety. I’m not sure if we spoke. My memory isn’t the best at this point. All I remember is my raincoat getting extremely warm as I watch for the spider to reappear. I didn’t realize I was panicking at first, only when I noticed my breathing was rapidly increasing did I start to go through the symptoms of adrenalin rushes in my head. Yup, I literally flashed back to AP Psych class in high school to diagnose myself. Not like it helped at all.

So I’m officially hyperventilating when Papa Bear notices I am definitely not all right and he start asking me all these questions. But I can’t really answer since I’m literally breathing myself to death over an incognito tarantula living in my most prized possession. Finally, after him asking me a few times, I choke out that I am NOT okay. As soon as I say the words I start bawling.

Just to let you know, crying does not mix well with hyperventilating, so I’m doing this gasping thing and I’m pretty sure my pupils were just itty bitty little pinpricks. All I can think about is this spider having the possibility of being perched on me instead of my dad if I had chosen to drive instead. If I had fund that spider I would have swerved into a ditch, stalled in the middle of rapid traffic, or had a coronary on the highway. Any which way you see it I most likely would’ve suffered a gruesome death and the spider would’ve gotten off scot-free.

After I calm down a little bit and we’re only a few miles form home, Papa Bear asks me why I freaked out so much. I said something along the lines of, ” It was looking at me.”

Let’s just say, when we pulled off into the driveway and tore the car apart there was no spider to kill. Therefore, we bombed the car with one of those spider and insect killers and I seriously debated selling the car.

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