I've come a long way since then. One day, when I was nineteen, I saw a spider and decided that I was going to pick it up. For about ten seconds I committed every aspect of my concentration to telling myself that I wasn't afraid of spiders. It worked. I picked the spider up; I put the spider down. I didn't die.
A couple of weeks ago a spider showed up on the ceiling of our bathroom. He was a chunky little guy - fat, brown and, from toe to toe, about the size of a nickel. Since I had made a commitment to not be scared of these guys anymore, I decided that I wouldn't mind sharing the bathroom with spidey.
I told myself that he probably wouldn't stick around for very long anyway - a day or two at most.
As it turns out, though, however determined I was to not be afraid of spiders, this spider was even more determined to never leave the bathroom. I would be lying if I said I didn't begin to sweat a little every time I needed to pee.
One day I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth and I noticed that there was a second spider on the ceiling, merely a foot away from the old spider. Old Spidey began walking toward New Spidey. Awesome, I thought, they're going to have an epic spiderfight to the death, kill each other and solve my problem.
That's not what happened, though.
Old Spidey just breezed right by New Spidey. They might as well have high-fived each other.
Then the inevitable happened. I hopped into the shower one night and found that it was already occupied. Spidey was there, on the far wall opposite the shower head, chilling out and possibly contemplating whether or not he should magically tranform and multiply into a swarming army of soul-devouring, poison-spitting demon spiders that would attack me and lay eggs behind my eyeballs and underneath my fingernails.
As I stood there, trembling and fighting off the urge to mimic Janet Leigh in Psycho, I realized that it was a good time to remind myself that I'm not afraid of spiders.
Ultimately, I was able to get through the ordeal. I found that as long as I kept my eyes on Spidey the entire time I could stay calm enough to quickly shower.
Here is the very valuable lesson I learned that day:
Don't try to wash your hair without closing your eyes. Shampoo stings.