Monday, June 11, 2007

Paranoia or Reason #795 Why I Hate Japanese Summers.

For as long as I can remember I have been petrified (absolutely shit scared) of spiders. Nothing is as scary as these; not so much the small ones like redbacks that you can easily crush, but the great big hairy monstrosities that haunt the doorways of your house and the upper corners of rooms near the ceilings are the ones which truly haunt my paranoid scanning of rooms before I walk into them.

I have no logic for this irrational fear that makes me jumpy as hell for days after an arachnoid sighting. It may stem from the time when I was 7? 8? that Mum was driving me to vacation swimming and I flipped down the sun visor only to have a huntsman drop into my lap which then resulted in me screaming and then catapulting myself into the very furtherest corner of the station wagon while she slammed on the brakes on a loose gravel road. There was an awful lot of coaxing needed to get me back into my seat - and that spider was never found. It might have been the huntsman that I unexpectedly brushed out of my hair after coming out of the chook yard after feeling like there was something crawling on my head which resulted in a complete freak out. It might have been the huntsman in the boarding house dorms that didn't bother anyone else in the room and because of the high ceiling was left to its own devices as opposed to being promptly turned into a crunchy pile of exoskeleton. Maybe it was the huntsman which Dad proclaimed was almost dead because it had been in the same room for 4 days, which managed to come back to life the night I stayed in the farm house and moved through 3 rooms, the kitchen, the back porch to my room to where I woke up at 5 am with my very finely tuned spidey sense to look up to see it very much alive about a metre above my head on the wall.

Have I mentioned that huntsmans are very good at just suddenly dropping off walls? And scuttling their long, hairy legs towards the closest tall thing, which is either me, or a cupboard in which you'll never find them again, no matter how meticulously, anal-retentively you tear everything apart in the attempt to find the suddenly invisible spider so that you don't spend the next six months arming yourself with a shoe before opening said spider-home/cupboard?

So now, are you convinced of the levels of my fear of spiders? And just how truly fucking creepy they are?

One of the less pleasant things about Japanese summers and their soul destroying capability is the blanket of humidity, and the days of never ending rain. Add to this, the ugliest insect you've ever seen comes out looking for the perfect place to bask in this revolting weather, and more than likely will pick an old, wooden house. Exactly. Like. My. House.

This is a lesson in how to turn things up a notch. Talk up the urban myths, create the fear of the unknown. I have happily been lulled into an false sense of security that the insects in Japan don't want to invade my house and categorically scare the shit out of me. Sure, I've had to deal with wee bugs living in my tatami mats that have required a pesticide in a very cool injecting-type spray to be liberally punctured into the mats and the monumental sized cicadas that make the most phenomenal noise. But I'd never come across the great fabled myth of the mukade. Horror stories of waking up with a 30 centimetre monster centipede crawling over your bare stomach, far too close to parts that really hurt when they're bitten, are all too common, and are passed around like the creepiest badge of honour you could imagine. A friend of mine had a few that would climb up her drain pipe into her shower on the second floor while she was showering, and while I sympathised, I thought it may have been something that was reserved for the deepest, darkest inaka. Ah, foolishness.

While it wasn't as horrifying as any of the above, I don't think my Japan will ever be the same.

I woke up to go for a walk one morning and was confronted with a mukade inside my back door. Instant panic that resulted in my favourite red shoes being turned into a weapon of destruction and nervous squealing and pounding the horrid thing into mush. I was then informed later at school that squashing them leads to other mukade to come looking because of the smell, and that mukade are always in pairs, meaning that there was another one still in my house, waiting, waiting, biding it's time to launch it's revenge for the death of its mate. It's as though everyone was beside themselves to give me every bit of information they possibly could, just so they could watch me squirm.

I never did find the second one. I cleaned and I cleaned, and I spent a good part of a week in a heightened paranoia that there was something crawling on me which resulted in several embarrassing freak outs.

Touch wood, I'm yet to see a spider here that bothers me enough to be all creeped out. If that happens, I'm moving out.

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