It’s almost Halloween, the paperdoll-friendly holiday, and I’ve been thinking about what would make a dress scary. The things that scare me don’t generally translate well to dresses, though, since they are too intangible. But there’s a couple of fears that aren’t…
My pride causes me to say I’m not scared of spiders, I just don’t like looking at them. If I put it that way, it’s perfectly reasonable to do things like cover up a picture of a spider when I’m reading a book, or avoid the tarantula exhibit at the zoo.
But it’s never reasonable, really, to wake up my husband at 4 AM when there’s a spider in the bathroom. It’s not reasonable that I have to use paper or my phone to cover up a spider picture in a book, and not my hand. And it’s not really reasonable to move as quickly as I do when there’s one close to me. Before I know it I’m halfway across the room, denying that anything’s wrong at all, I’m just fine, it’s not like I’m scared of such a little spider, because that would be ridiculous. (It’s gone now, right?)
When I was a little kid, I was scared of black holes, and I feel like I’ve gone down in the world since I stopped fearing the random indifference of the universe and picked up such a pathetically obvious, stupid, gendered weakness. I know perfectly well they’re more afraid of me than I am of them. I know they eat lots of annoying bugs and that they’ve only got two more legs than ants (which I don’t mind at all). I know I can kill them perfectly well myself, and I do, if there’s no other option. I put on my heaviest shoes and make a lot of noise, cursing each stupid spider leg and shouting warnings to all the other spiders that they’d better stay well out of my sight, or they’re gonna get it too. I calm myself down by calling up my husband and telling him “I killed a spider!” just like a normal person might say “I got a promotion!” or “I won a new car!” Kind man that he is, he indulges me.
If you were to stalk me over my various online activities, you’d notice I almost never mention this fear, because I’m just paranoid enough to consider how people could use it against me. There’s no real reason to share with the world how to yank this particular chain. But oh well — it’s Halloween, and while I amuse myself with ghosts, vampires and sorceresses, I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m mostly just frightened of the quirks and instability of the human mind… and spiders.
What do spiders have to do with this gown, do you wonder? Well, there’s the spiderweb lace, and a couple of twitchy, fat flies caught in it. There must be a spider around somewhere, don’t you think? Ah, yes. A gigantic one, four feet long, with spindly long legs and a full set of eyes.
It’s on the petticoat.
Does that make the whole dress different for you? It does for me. I’ve drawn nothing, but all the same it’s still there, just like those spiders that disappear behind furniture while I’m still dithering about looking for my shoes. Now, is it merely embroidered or painted on? Or does it cling to the thin lace on the petticoat, waiting for its host to lure some prey away from the party and into the shadows? Dance with the lady in black and green at the Halloween ball this year, if you like, but I hope you will have the sense to leave that particular mystery well alone.
I’m never going to talk about spiders on this blog again, so let’s have a poll…