Author + Spider = THE WILLIES!

Each Halloween provides me with a perfect opportunity to dust off and share this all-too-true story -- one of my favorite posts ever -- with my readers. It's not candy, but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway.


We all have something that pushes our most primitive panic button. I’m not talking things like Tyrannosaurus Rex or the shark from Jaws or even 10-foot-tall, brain-sucking aliens with ray guns. Think smaller. Waaaaaay smaller. The very same human who will rescue a family of nine from a burning building or face down a burglar armed with nothing but a folding chair will turn to Jello on stilts in the presence of his or her personal demon. Said demon of course is not in its brimstone-chewing and pitchfork-wielding form, but in the guise of a deceptively harmless-looking creature such as a mouse.

And then it hits – that peculiar fear reaction known only to homo sapiens. An attack of nerves so complete that in ten thousand years of civilization we still can’t think of a single intelligible name for the condition. We’re assailed by the heebie-jeebies, the creepy-crawlies, the jitters, the all-overs, the jim-jams and the screaming meemies.

Me, I get The Willies.

While I have no reaction whatsoever to slugs, bugs, snakes, rats, mice, lizards, bats and even the inner workings of cows (don’t ask), I come down with a severe case of The Willies when confronted with a spider. I don't know why that is – some mis-mutated survival mechanism? After all, while I'm dancing around, rubbing my arms and legs, flapping at my clothes and yelling EEYEWW at the top of my lungs, the spider has plenty of time to run off. When I've finally finished with The Willies, my enemy is long gone, leaving me safe and sound – at least for the moment. Instinct triumphs again.

I'm ready for a different evolutionary leap though. Recently I stepped into the shower only to discover that I wasn't alone in there. Eight beady eyes met my gaze. If they’d belonged to four mice or four beetles or even four plumbers, I’d have reacted better. But nooooooo, not only did all eight beady eyes belonged to a single spider, but this spider was big enough to wear a t-shirt and I'm certain he had a tattoo. I immediately suffered an attack of The Willies that was so extreme, I leapt backwards out of the shower and straight into the nearest wall, braining myself with the towel bar. It might have been just the ringing in my ears but I could swear I heard high-pitched spider laughter as I crawled hastily from the bathroom, naked, whimpering and cursing. So much for that inner defense mechanism. Thanks a lot, Darwin.

It’s important to note that the adage out of sight, out of mind does not apply to situations like this. Once The Willies have been activated, they have to run their course. It took me half an hour of pacing, shaking and jumping around to get up enough nerve to assess the situation rationally. My rational assessment said that I was on my own. Have you noticed that scary-evil things only show up when you're all by your lonesome? Sure, husbands and boyfriends will save you from a charging grizzly bear, but it’s a perverse Law of Nature that they’ll never be on hand in true emergencies such as power failures, cars that fail to start or spiders in the bathtub.

I confess, I considered siccing my pug onto the beast (Kill, Scooby, KILL!) but finally decided against it. My benign pug has all the ferocity of an eggplant. The spider would be in no danger whatsoever unless Scooby accidently farted on it. Besides, if my pug did actually TOUCH the spider (Ick, ick, ICK!), then The Willies would render me completely unable to touch my dog for heaven knows how long. I'd have to hand him biscuits with a pair of barbecue tongs...

I next considered waiting the six or seven hours until my husband got home from work. I could go without peeing or brushing my teeth that long, couldn’t I? Then I remembered I had an appointment I’d waited three weeks for. With mounting horror, I realized just how many things associated with getting ready for the day were trapped in the bathroom with the eight-legged invader. Makeup. Toothbrush. Earrings. OMG, my bra was hanging on the back of the bathroom door! For a wild moment I thought I could make it without all those luxuries and then I caught sight of myself in the bedroom mirror. My hair was sticking up in a lopsided morning mohawk and nothing, but nothing, would render it fit to be seen but a shower.

I would have to confront the enemy.

The flyswatter looked too flimsy to be of much use and the broom couldn't be wielded within the confines of the shower. A hammer would be a little rough on the bathtub enamel and would also require too much precision. I finally decided on the bathroom plunger as my weapon of choice – it had a nice heft to it. Not as good as a baseball bat but I didn't have one of those. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing I didn't think of our deer rifles....

I opened the shower door carefully, praying the spider wouldn't be startled. Not because I cared about its spider feelings, but because one sudden move from the creature would have cost me another hour of The Willies. Fortunately, the eight-legged invader was paralyzed by incredulity. A plunger? Are you kidding, lady?I launched my attack.

It was grim, it was messy and it was accompanied by strangled shouts of EEYEW, EEYEW, EEYEW, EEYEW, EEYEW and many GODDAMMITS. I think most of them came from me. After the battle, I turned the hot water on full blast and left the shower to disinfect itself while I ran to my room (still naked). I was dancing around but not with victory.

And that's the pity of it. More evolved gals would no doubt feel empowered enough to raise that plunger over their head and triumphantly shout "I AM BETTY, DESTROYER OF EVIL!". But me? I’m in the throes of an even bigger case of the creepy crawlies, a heebie-jeebie meltdown of epic proportions.

The Willies have struck again.

Dani Harper

So now I've told you what sends me screaming down the street --- it's YOUR TURN --- What scares YOU? Can anyone add to the list of synonyms for "heebie jeebies"? (My personal favorite is the screaming meemies -- one of my relatives used to say us kids gave her those...)


CONGRATS TO DENISE Z. Her name was drawn as the winner. She'll receive a Dani Harper tote with an itty bitty plush wolf in it! 

THANK YOU for all the great comments --- loved them! 


  1. lol, you so funny! not all spiders are created equal in the willies department for me. The tiny ones don't bother me too much...they are almost cute. But the big ones...*shudder*

  2. Now see I used to be afraid of spiders, but I blame that on my brother who would chase me around with a bug in his hand and throw it on me when he got close enough.

    So to get rid of my bug phobia, I went tout and found the biggest, ugliest spider I could just happened to be a black widow. I brought it inside, look it over and took her back outside. Then I found a smaller spider, picked it up and put it back down. Now whenever there's a spider in the house my husband calls me over to pick it up and take it outside.

    But if a bee gets in the house..I start screaming, might even cry, hide in the nearest room with a lock and call the cops to come get rid of it. lol

  3. I hate Spiders! I have a major freak out when they spy on me in the shower or appear over my bed or well just about anytime I see them! there was a giant one in the kitchen yesterday and I refused to move or go anywhere near the dishwasher till mum caught it and got rid of it! Changelings and witches - perfectly natural, Spider's - totally freakish and unnatural! Lol!
    suzi1811 @

  4. (Dont enter me) I have to confess.. spiders!!! i usually do the screaming (or even just MEEP!!) loud enough that someone comes a running.. one time, i got the fierce man to go in there..the sucker was HUGE.. he gets in there, all like, wheres this tiny spider.. he sees it.. and HE screams!!! ... then he killed it.. like 18 times.. lol

  5. The only spiders that I don't mind are the "Daddy Longlegged" ones. For some reason, they don't bother me when every other one does. I guess it was from playing in too many barns growing up.

  6. Oh my God, I just cracked up reading Dani's post and the comments... Alainala your comment made me laugh so hard (send in a fierce man, and he screams) LOL I can just totally picture a fierce man screaming like a girl. God, that was funny ;)

    All right, spiders freak me out too, not enough to scream, more of a determined I'm going to kill that ****** kind of determination.... the one thing out here in Florida that makes me scream are Palmetto bugs. For those unfamiliar with that classification... Palmetto bugs look like a cockroach except its like 100 x the size of a cockroach... probably like 4 inches long? and the fun part of this disgusting big bug is they FLY!! So, the first time I discovered one on the ceiling on my mom's apartment after I got home from work... I grabbed a phone book (hey only thing handy) he was on the ceiling and I missed when I was aiming and that little ***** flew at my head while I shrieked my head off at like midnight... my mom comes tearing downstairs to ask what's wrong and when I tell her, she starts to laugh hysterically, until I tell her the big roach flew off where she was standing :D It did too lol I can face a lot of things but big flying cockroaches are beyond me ;) Great post Dani, Loved it LOL! too funny...

    paranormaladdicts at yahoo dot com :)

  7. spider's okay, as long as they're small and not to many. but gecko? just hearing the sound of gecko is enough to give me the willies

    smile_1773 at yahoo dot com

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  9. I am scared of spiders and snakes. When we were first married we lived in a basement apartment. My husband would come home every day to glasses upside down over spiders. We had black widows too and finally my hubby kept one as a pet. Thank goodness he kept it in a tiny corner room. (The house was ancient) I couldn't go near that room. He loved it just to get a reaction out of me. I should have slugged him one. LOL

  10. Funny read!!LOL!!
    I hate spider, but i okay if they smail, but i they big like tarantula, i will run fast.:)

  11. Very fun post. Don't like spiders.


  12. Lol, I think I'm a bit of a typical girl when it comes to things that scare me. Snakes, Spiders...the occasional bee.
    although anything that might bite makes me back away as well.

  13. Loved the post..still catching my breath after laughing so hard. Thank you for that. I agree Spiders, there are a couple I don't mind tiny ones and daddy long legs and there is another that looks like daddy long legs that eats mesquitos. Another thing that makes me run the other way...scorpians!

    kcnrhtx (at) charter (dot)net

  14. this way funny!!! and the thing that scares the bejeezus out of me...clowns. doesn't matter what kind. i truly have a very irrational fear of clowns. thanks for a great post and the contest.

  15. Great Article Dani :) You had me laughing out loud!

  16. You have successfully cheered me up, thanks =)

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. I have a confession in honor of your post. When I was about 20, I rented an apartment that was a converted barn-- the lady asked me to watch her son who was 4 or 5, and while she was gone I saw this HUGE HUGE spider by the stove. I was petrified-- the thing was so big-- I actually asked the little boy to smack it with the broom. I kid you not. BAhahahahaha He missed and it ran behind the stove. Yes, I AM a wimp.

  18. I don't like spiders either but still...not as bad as you. However mice are not so welcomed. There was a mouse under my kitchen sink and no way was I going near it; I closed the cupboard door and stood staring at it to make sure the mouse would not escape until mu hubby came in from outside; it wasn't very long thank the good Lord an all I could say: mouse an point!!!

  19. Roaches, black widows, termites lol

  20. Scorpions! I'll jump onto the highest object- bed, chair, desk- and scream until someone kills it for me. Yuck!


  21. I'm okay with most things, spiders included. It's strange noises in the night that spook me.


  22. Yes spiders can be a bit daunting, I will concede this point. However, you have never trembled until you spent the night trembling with me and our dog (when she was still with us) during a thunder storm. The windows rattle! The room lights up! The power flashes on and off and lord knows what is going on under my desk with the surge protector - shuddering. I have been known to break down and cry, refuse to answer the phone, so as not to be zapped, or use the toilet (heard somewhere water conducts the zapping)during said storms and frankly I do not want to go fried on the pot LOL Thank you for making me smile today - you see as cold as it is the sky is clear :)

    1. CONGRATS DENISE! Your name was drawn as the winner of my giveaway. I'll be emailing you shortly. :)

  23. Creepie Crawlies is a phrase my family uses in these cases because it feels like something is crawling all over you or under your skin! Spiders, wasps, centipedes, snakes and various other small insects and reptiles are the cause for various family members.
    PhoenixCarvelli at gmail dot com


Love your comments and read every one of them! Thanks for taking the time to write!