“Wow. Ok, Arthur. Don’t freak out.”
“Nothing. Just…don’t freak out.”
Toscar is staring at something behind me. An axe murderer. A spider. A spider who is an axe murderer. I slowly turn.
It’s a daddy long legs, batting uselessly against a table-lamp.
I bolt into the bedroom and lock myself in.
“KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!”
Toscar is laughing at me from the living room.“Shit, now there’s two of em.”
“TWO?? WHAT IF THEY FALL IN LOVE? OH MY GOD TOSCAR THEY’LL HAVE CHILDREN!”
I once had a parrot that was frightened of top hats and balloons. Baseball caps? Fine. Bowler hats? Not a problem. Top Hats? Terror. I came to the conclusion that a magician had horribly abused him whilst he was a baby.
MY GREATEST FEARS
It’s not normal. And I know that artificial insemination and macbooks and vaccinations aren’t normal either, but flying is not normal. If God had intended us to fly, he wouldn’t have given us jeeps.
Cause of fear: I was thirteen years old and about to fly to New York with my family. I had flown many times before and had always felt rather uneasy once we were up in the sky, although I loved the taking off and landing part. When I told my mother this, she laughed gaily and said ‘don’t be silly, taking off and landing are when all the accidents happen.’
Cause: The X-Files
Cause: Isadora Duncan
Cause: the film ‘My Girl’
And then there’s my biggest fear, a fear that eclipses my fear of flying, scarves, wasps, lifts and even death, my fear of
Cause: I’m five years old. Me, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and my grandmother are amiably chatting in the living room. I’m on the floor, possibly sticking crayons up my nose or something equally childish. A daddy long legs appears.
Me: (drops crayon) AGH WHATISIT!!
Mother: (trying to hide her own fear) It’s nothing, darling! Just a nice friendly daddy long legs.
(Sister aunt and grandmother all murmur comforting noises. The daddy-long-legs perches itself on the very edge of the ceiling lamp.)
Grandmother: See? Look how he’s sitting there nicely.
Mother: (after fetching a feather duster) Now I’m just going to gently pick him up with this, and we’ll let him back out into the garden.
The minute she touches the infernal insect with the duster, it drops down into her face in a tangle of thin limbs and filmy disgustingness. My mother screams and throws the duster, frantically clawing at her own face and hair, my sister screams and runs like hell out of the room, my grandmother drops her tea, and I am a bawling, terrified, scarred-for-life-wreck.
My fear of daddy-long-legs has even inspired other, weirder fears, like a vague distrust of pipe-cleaners and a feeling of impending doom when August turns into September, Daddy Season, I call it.
When I was eighteen I was at a house party. I was all trussed up, looking alright, feeling horny, and chatting up a boy in the conservatory. It was going well. I’m gonna pull him. I thought. This is a definite win. I was idly showing off in that teenage way, talking about The Velvet Underground, reaching out to touch the boy’s shoulder when I laughed, shit like that, when out of the corner of my eye I spied a –
“DADDY!!!!!!” I screamed, legging it as fast as I could to the stairs, to a locked bedroom, to safety. The boy must have thought I was having some kind of sudden sexual abuse flashback. Needless to say, I didn’t pull him.