Scott Hollifield: Just one superpower for a peaceful existence

If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to kill spiders anywhere on the planet with just the power of my mind.

Personally, I have nothing against spiders. I am aware they are a valuable part of the ecosystem, controlling insect populations and serving as food sources for other critters on this big, wonderful, spinning round ball we call home.

I would not use my superpower to kill all spiders, just those particular spiders that are threatening the peaceful existence of my daughter when she is far away which inevitably threatens the peaceful existence of me due to panicked phone calls and screaming, sobbing cries for help.

First of all, arachnophobia is real. I cannot attest to the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster or Donald Trump’s empathy for others because I’ve never personally witnessed any of those, but I have seen arachnophobia live and in living color and it sure ain’t pretty.

My daughter, now 21, has it and her momma, age unavailable for publication, has it. Whether this was passed along genetically or a learned behavior, I am not qualified to say.

I just know it’s real.

When my daughter was younger, I was usually around for the dispatching of the spiders, summoned to that chore by high-pitched screams and wails. As she got older and strayed from the nest, I was not. But I was still caught in the web of terror.

The first frantic phone call came about four years ago, all the way from Germany where a gracious family had taken in an American exchange student eager to learn about the culture of a foreign land yet also willing to burn down their house in a late-night encounter with an eight-legged creature.

“Daddy!” she said in a panicked, whispered call from across the North Atlantic. “There is a spider in my bedroom!”

“You have to kill it or find someone to kill it.”

“I can’t kill it! I can’t kill it! And the host family is asleep. I don’t know what to do (muffled sobs, gasping for air).”

“You are all the way over in Germany. If I had paid more attention in geography class, I would know how many miles away that is but I do know it’s a lot. I can’t do anything from here. You have to kill it or wake someone up to kill it. They’ll forgive you for doing something stupid. You’re an American. It’s what we do.”

Whether Angela Merkel eventually stepped in, I don’t know, but the international spider incident was resolved peacefully.

Early today came another call.

“Daddy! There is a spider on the door of my apartment!”

“You have to kill it or find someone to kill it.”

“I can’t kill it! I can’t kill it! It’s huge. I don’t know what to do (muffled sobs, gasping for air).”

“You are in Boone. If I had paid more attention in geography class, I would know how many miles away that is but I do know it’s a lot. I can’t do anything. You have to kill it or find someone to kill it. They’ll forgive you for doing something stupid. You’re a college student. It’s what you do.”

No one was in the office of her apartment building and no neighbors up to the task were around (or dared come to the door due to the wailing), so I instructed her to go to a store and buy bug spray, go back and soak the little sucker.

She did, which, according to one her many phone calls after that, awoke a great horde of spiders worthy of a horror movie. Finally, maintenance intervened and after another scare or two, the situation was resolved (at least, as of this writing it was).

Yes, just one superpower. That’s all I wish for.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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