17 August, 2010

Spider-gate: The curse of the damsel and the hero

Again Spiderman wondered if he'd prefer his job if he wasn't gay...
Last night something happened to me, something that happens to women worldwide, to young girls playing innocently in the park, to elderly women minding their own business in the bingo hall, to mums trying to get their kids ready for school. No I’m not talking about the realisation that Men are from Mars, I’m talking about the inevitable Spider-gate.

Spider-gate, as it shall now be known, is the scenario whereby the average woman is happily going about her day, wondering if she should buy Cosmo or The Guardian, whether she should invest in Spanx and if she would flirt back with Simon Cowell, only to have her day suddenly and frighteningly interrupted by an unwelcome creature. This creature is of course a spider. Spider on her floor, in her cupboard, next to her shower, or any other place of choice, thereby causing an instant fear, a round of yelping and the need for a man to come and save her. Oh yes, spider-gate starting to sound familiar?

Last night, at 11.10pm, I had said goodnight to my housemate Dave, ended all discussion as to which Big Brother contestant should win this year and was happily moisturising with a tinted moisturiser, pondering what I would wear the next day and getting very excited for catching up on my favourite American beautiful-people drama, when out of the corner of my freshly de-make-up’d eyes, I saw something scuttle. Scuttle in a way that only a demon could. I shut my eyes, opened one, peeked out of it, saw scuttling continue. Jumped up on bed, turned to face direction of scuttling, plucked up the courage to open both eyes at the same time and acknowledge the 10” x 10” (description not to scale), 8-legged fiend happily marching across my bedroom.

“Eeehhhh”. There it was, The first of a marathon of wails that would consequently leave my mouth. Louder, “EeeehhhhhhhHHH!” Spidermonster stops moving. Its 76 eyes glancing nervously around the room. It sits. It sits. It sits. Meanwhile my yelps are getting louder. “MaaaaaaHHHHhhhhhhHHHH!”

After several minutes of “ehhhhs”, “maaahs”, scuttles, sitting, standing on beds and refusing to blink, I became aware I was waiting for someone to respond to my yelps and take action against Spidermonster my behalf. The only someone who was around to do so, was my housemate. Dave. A man. Which is how I became a damsel.
 “Daaave?” I call down the stairs. Wait. Nothing. “Daaaaaaaaaave!” Nothing. Spider still in sitting and scuttling sequence (is it dancing?) Fear building. Heart-rate rocketing. Spidermonster is blocking the door. There is simply no way out. “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE!!!” Nothing. No amount of yodelling could get darling Dave’s attention.

I spy my phone next to my laptop across the room. Okay plan B. I start to shuffle across my bed towards my phone. But with each shuffle I make, Spidermonster sort of matches it. I shuffle forward. It scuttles. I wait. It sits. I shuffle. It scuttles. Shuffle, scuttle, shuffle, scuttle, shuffle, scuttle. When I can take no more of this spidery dance, I decide to go for it and bound into the air and onto the desk-chair to safety. Looking cautiously to check on Spidermonsters progress and I pick up my phone and proceed to ring Dave.

“Hello?” he says, only slightly confused as to why I am calling him from one ceiling above.

“Hi Dave, you okay?” (Trying to be breezy and sound nonchalant whilst balancing on my desk chair, in my polka-dot pyjamas, eyes blood shot from lack of blinking…competing with a SPIDER!!!).
“Yeah. ‘sup?”

“Errr. Yeah. Can u, erm, come up here for a minute, there’s sort of a spider and it’s looking at me and moving and, errr, could you errr, get it for me?” Then, as an after-thought, “Do you like spiders? I mean don’t worry if you don’t like spiders.” Really? Did I really have a plan B if Dave didn’t like spiders?

“Yeah (cool as you like) sure I’ll come and get it.” Just like that. Like I’d asked him to pass me the salt. Did he not realise I meant a real spider? With legs? And eyes? And the ability to...SCUTTLE?

Within two minutes Dave had captured Spidermonster in a glass, walked downstairs with it, taken it outside and nodded obligingly in my direction. All he was lacking was a sword and the tilt of his helmet. Job done ma’ lady. He even pretended not to clock my dishevelled appearance. “Night Han!” he calls nonchalantly as he leaves the room, as if he hasn’t just saved my life.

“Thank you! Thanks Dave, thanks so much, cheers for that mate, gosh thanks!” I continue to call down the stairs long after he’s out of ear-shot. I remain standing on the chair for a good five minutes afterwards, phone in hand, staring in a trance, utterly flabbergasted.

This episode got me to thinking, for I had just a ticked a major cliché off of my Life List, for this was a universal and stereotypical scenario. Of course it was going to happen one day. Bridget Jones more than likely needed Darcy to get rid of a spider wedged between one of her many diaries. I am certain Romeo had to sweep a spiddly creature from the parlour while Juliet cowered on the balcony. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Boadicea didn’t at some point need her warriors to chase a tarantula off her shield, while another held her safely on his noble steed and averted her eyes with his roman weaponry...

It got me to thinking – why does this happen? For, despite what my story might suggest, I am not a girly girl. I am brave. Though my weaknesses in life are Dresses, Men and Wine, I also am quite happy to jump out of a canoe into slimy river water whilst yanking most ungracefully on the front of said canoe in order to free it (and with it my sister) from the treacherous rocks that had captured us whilst on a recent nautical adventure in the South of France. Oh no, you won’t catch me lounging on the Riviera.

So my question is how do us not-so-girly-really girls manage to fall straight into the damsel in distress category the second any of the damsel-in-distress stereotypical situations arise? Is it some unlawful hereditary gene that means all girls, whoever they are, will always squeal at spiders, cry at the Notebook and find happiness in the middle of a Boost bar? I don’t think so. Genetics shenetics. We can overcome our genes. Born a chubber? Do the Atkins. Born ginger? Bleach it. Born a boy? Get a sex-change. We can overcome our genes! Whatever this force is, it’s stronger than genes. It’s a powerful power that dares us to defy it!

So, I have a theory and my theory is thus:

Long long ago, in however many years BC it is that humans began to rein the earth; there was a group of lads. A gang. A cool, cool gang. Cupid was the leader and he only let blokes with names like Darcy, R-Patz, Russell Crowe and Cadbury’s Milk Tray Man join the club. They got together around a camp fire, banged a drum and decided that in order to get laid on a regular basis, they must find a way to make all women vulnerable, thereby providing them with opportunities aplenty to swoop in and be THE HERO. “We will inspire Bonnie Tyler’s hit single! We will be strong, tough and fresh from the fight! And we will be there ‘til the end of the night!” they chanted. And they cast a spell, an eternal spell upon woman kind. A spell that means all women are now going to forevermore fall into a trance of high pitched shrieks, pleas for masculine help, squeals of fear and sighs of relief when situation in question is solved by said masculine help. Followed by instant gratitude and a softening of the heart towards man who provides said masculine help.

This, girls, is why no matter how hardcore we may believe ourselves to be, we find ourselves hopping daintily from foot to foot on our beds, in our pyjamas, squealing for Dave’s help, begging to be rescued and ending up eternally grateful for The Men, the heroes of our stories.

Afterwards I felt cheap, manipulated by spider, Dave, Cupid’s Gang and Bonnie Tyler – I reprimanded myself for a good 20 minutes whilst trying to focus on One Tree Hill. If I see Cupid’s Gang on the other side, I shall be having a stern word. But for now, I am going to head home to do sit-ups, give myself a pedi’ and crave Ben & Jerry’s.

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