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Essays

Arachnophobia 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hey, look, my blog is active two weeks in a row! Can you believe it? I’m not sure I can either.

This post is brought to you by one simple word that I (unfortunately) came across as I skimmed my morning blog roll: “spiderling.” Let it sink into your consciousness and roll across your tongue for a little bit. It’s pretty obvious what the word means, but let’s allow Merriam-Webster to clear things up, just in case there was any doubt: “a very young spider, especially where the brood remains on the back of the mother or in the egg sac for a time after hatching.” (It can also refer to a plant from the genus Boerhavia—I have no desire to Google Image that surely nightmarish creation.)I don’t make a habit of researching spider terms or trivia, really; my previously documented phobia-related masochism doesn’t stretch that far. It does, however, stretch far enough to force me to scan this article with one hand over my mouth, slowly drawing my feet in closer to my body and glancing behind and above me with rapidly increasing frequency. Why do I do it to myself, you ask? I honestly don’t have a good answer. All I know is that I saw the headline on Twitter, scrolled past it, couldn’t stop thinking about it, and finally gave in and read it. And yes, of COURSE, I felt bad about myself afterward. It goes without saying.

Anyway, tangent aside, before this morning, I was happily unaware of the term “spiderling,” preferring to refer to baby spiders as “unholy abominations,” or choosing to pretend that they didn’t exist. But now I know the truth. I’ve seen the light, and it’s a sinister, twisted light, awash with tiny, glowing eyes.

I know what you’re saying: “Dude, cool your jets: ‘spiderling’ is just, like, whatever.” (This is how the kids talk these days, right?) False. Let me break it down for you. (I’m so hip.)

Think about the suffix “-ling”; what’s the first word that comes to mind? For me, it’s “underling,” and my overactive imagination took that connotation and ran with it. I’m aware that “-ling” simply means a young version of something, but that only adds to my points below.

Unlike other baby animals, most of which are born cute and cuddly and all but defenseless, I now imagine that spiderlings hatch into the world ugly as sin, fully cognizant, and aware of their capabilities for wreaking havoc worldwide. They ride on their mother’s backs for a time, just until their bodies catch up with their minds, and after they grow to a respectable size, they forge out on their own, creating a literal web of death and destruction. They likely help their mother with her nefarious web-spinning and prey-trapping duties, and she probably throws them the scraps from her most recent meal. Together, they share a collective dream of wealth as they click their tiny fangs together; a wealth of unending food and worldwide fear.

That’s what underlings do, right? They bide their time working for a boss until they can forge out on their own, but even when they do, there’s usually a certain loyalty the minion feels toward its former leader. The leader remains a de facto boss of sorts, even if direct orders aren’t being given and followed. THAT’S what spider families must be like: each spiderling eventually blazes its own dark trail, but Mommy Dearest is surely always in the back of their tiny, desperate minds, that end goal of spider supremacy never far from their collective thoughts. Why else would we have chosen the name “spiderling” for these little devils? It implies a spider hierarchy, which in turn implies a society of sorts, which in turn implies that I’ll be spending the rest of my life in a state of moderate fear that the spiders will take over one day.

I hear your “duckling” argument, and to that, I counter with the fact that ducks, on the whole, relatively safe, peaceful animals? (I mean, we have domesticated them, after all.) It only makes sense that ducklings would be small, cute versions of their adult selves. Meanwhile, adult spiders are sly, secretive and reprehensible, so why wouldn’t spiderlings just be miniature versions of adults with those character traits?

All this to say: I’m irrational, I have an overactive imagination, words are massively thought-provoking, and I really loathe spiders.

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About Cory Hershberger

Neurotic/eclectic critic obsessed with pop culture who enjoys good food, good company, and, most of all, good books.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Arachnophobia 2: Electric Boogaloo

  1. But remember it was a duck that tried to assassinate you while you were motoring with the windows down. So maybe any type of “ling” is truly evil.

    Posted by reid rhodes (@reidrhodes) | January 11, 2014, 11:46 am
  2. You’ve read this story, right? I find it to be the greatest spider story I’ve ever seen on a blog.

    http://stashew.blogspot.com/2012/04/demon-spider.html

    Posted by Tyler | January 13, 2014, 3:25 pm

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  1. Pingback: An Imagination Exercise | A Multitude of Drops - August 15, 2015

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"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

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