CONTENT WARNING: This episode includes mild language and intense moments for individuals with arachnophobia.
Arachnophobia, meet anthropophobia.
Phoebe has horrific arachnophobia with a dark secret and her worst nightmare is blocking her way out.
Performed by Lily Yasuda, Rina Hoshino
Additional voices by Andrew Alburger, Aly Wepplo, and Chris Carwithen
Music by Tess Makena
Co-editing by Cherron Arens
Written and Produced by Matt Musgrove
A scream from behind a door. Heart beats. Agitated breathing.
No no no, oh please no please.
No stop don't NO!
She tries to breathe. A buzzing of a fly in binaural
I'm a pretty logical guy -- and I
don't have too many irrational
fears. But when it comes to spiders
I really have to convince myself
they're not as dangerous as I may
Another cry from behind the door.
FLY HOST (CONT'D)
I'm Matt Musgrove the producer of
EarWyrm, currently as a fly, and in
this episode we'll explore why it's
important to keep our minds
empathetic and our fears in check,
to better our lives and others.
This is: How To Befriend a Spider.
(hopelessly calling out)
(heavy breathing, trying
Okay. Okay. It's just a bug --
She whines and retreats to her bed.
Dad. I need help -- Dad, please.
I can help.
Your Dad left to go to the store.
I saw his car leave.
Phoebe exhales with disbelief.
Hello? You there? Hola...
salutations, wazzup, I'm Charlotte!
What's you're name? --
Siri sound: beepbeep.
Oh, it's okay, you don't need to be
afraid -- I left my knife at home.
Just a spider joke. Spider's don't
have knives...yet -- another spider
Your call has been forwarded to an
automated voice messaging system --
DAD VOICEMAIL RECORDING
Hey you've reached ma voicemail.
Please leave a message after the
-- is not available. At the tone
please record your message.
Dad? Damnit. Come on.
When you've finished recording you
may hang up, or press one for more
Dad it's Pheobe. Where are you? I
need you to come home right now.
You need to kill a spider. It's
literally by my bedroom door and I
can't leave. I dropped my glasses --
and -- I'm probably having a mental
Ohhh okay -- Phoebe -- looks like
you need to work some things out.
I'll be under the dresser if you
And um -- I --
Your message has been sent.
(behind the dresser)
Now if I had a grenade or a
bazooka, THAT would warrant extreme
terror. And who uses voicemail
anymore, it's called a text.
Frantic tapping of texting.
(breathing to herself)
Okay, you're hearing voices. This
is an anthropomorphic response to a
Boop. Text sends.
(behind the dresser)
My brain is protecting me.
(behind the dresser)
Well whether you're losing your
mind or psychic, let's talk!
No. Go away -- or die. I'm good
(behind the dresser)
Whoa, so that's how it is. Psh --
you don't know me --
What I do... the value of my life?
That's some bipedal b.s.
She hits her head.
Ow. Freaking shelf!
I can't see anything.
You need glasses.
I have glasses - I - they fell off
when I jumped on the bed, and --
(irate) no, nope -- I'm not talking
to you. You're just a freaky --
FREAK bug -- ok I can just DO THIS!
Get the freaking glasses, Pheobe!
Phoebe barrels towards Charlotte.
She shoves the dresser against the wall.
Phoebe goes back to the bed. Glasses nervously clicking as
she fumbles them on her face.
Where are you, you little spawn of
Are you still under the dresser? I
have a fly swatter and I'm not
afraid to use it.
Oh, wait. Are you talking to me?
You want to know where I am? Oh
sorry-sorry, for a minute there I
thought a dresser almost crushed me
by an irrational human.
You scratched the paint on the wall
by the way.
I'm not irrational. Everyone's
afraid of spiders.
Even your Dad?
Both my parents.
Ah -- runs in the family. Mom and
Dad scream at spider, child does
same. Monkey see, monkey scream.
No it's like -- a genetic thing or
something -- we evolved to hate
Or conditioned. Don't underestimate
the power of culture.
How do you know it's genetic?
Is it a primate thing? It's a
I don't know, it could be genetic
and also a cultural thing. We're
programmed. I've done my research,
okay. In like the Middle Ages, for
centuries, spiders -- we thought,
poisoned and contaminated food, and
water, brought the Plague -- but
then it wasn't true, it was like
Really. Those assholes.
And illnesses they didn't know
about, AND Tarantism hysteria,
which is dancing caused by a spider
bite -- so now I have to deal with
hundreds of years of ingrained
bullshit my ancestors jacked up.
Eloquently put. I'm surprised you
researched that -- being an
No, that's the thing. I don't want
to be. I hate being scared. That's
why I read up about it. It's really
messed up my life.
I've been in like -- three spider
related car accidents.
What's that? I just saw something
crawl under the seat.
Under the seat? -- WATCH IT!
CRASH. End memory.
Whoa, that bad huh?
Yeah. Really bad.
-- I've even lost relationships.
You have not. Because of me?
Yeah -- Well, not you specifically,
but yeah, I've --
I've lost relationships...
Overlapping dialogue. Transitioning to different locations.
No, stop saying that --
Then what is it?
Of course it's not your scar --
It's -- you're always freaking out,
you're so -- so -- anxious and
insecure it's infuriating!
That's not fair --
No it isn't -- I don't know who I
am, taking care of you.
BOYFRIEND 2 MEMORY
Spending time with you feels like
And I wish it wasn't.
GIRLFRIEND AND BOYDRIEND MEMORY
That's not what a relationship is.
Also -- I spend like a third of my
day lookin under furniture.
It's just a lot of time and stress
invested into something relatively
I hate it. So that's why I look
things up online.
Ah the world-wide web.
Uh -- yeah, for exposure therapy I
guess -- It's supposed to help.
Well look at you Spidey-girl --
Don't call me that.
I -- uh -- so [swallows] I look at
pictures online, I educate myself
and I power through my fears, aand
- it's tough --
No that's good! Really -- not many
people actually go and do that.
Usually they're more worried about
changing the world than changing
themselves, which changes the
world, so --
Well it's been ruining my life for
a while now -- I have to.
What is going on. I'm really losing
Beat. Phoebe breath quickens.
Are you still behind the dresser?
Talk to me. I'm literally dying
inside not knowing where you are.
Oh good -- for a moment there I
thought it was hypothetical.
Charlotte descends from the ceiling. The web is the sound of
a stretching metal chord or violin string.
Comin' down and exposure therapy
WACK. She goes flying and hits the floor.
Charlotte winces in pain.
I didn't -- I mean. It just,
happened so fast --
Are you hurt?
What do you think? You're the one
Okay just -- back off. I didn't
want this -- I'm the one freaked
Sure. You're suffering, you're
hurt. I'm just drowning in kindness
So typical of "big things." And
after getting a fly swatter to the
I'm sorry! There.
Thank you. -- For saying that.
It's the first step.
First step to what?
Becoming my friend.
Uh -- Oh no, I don't want to be --
you know --
Roommates works too.
No -- that's not --
I don't party, I rarely have
company over I'm not eating. And
you'll know where I am -- all the
time -- I'm on my web like twenty
I'm clean -- well except for my
molting, sorry - might have left a
skeleton around here somewhere.
OH and no pets, I don't smoke --
Well, are you four-twenty friendly?
No I -- Spider!
What part of "I'm disgusted and
terrified of you" don't you
Terrified? Of what?
I don't know... you have hairy
So do you --
Yeah but you have like a hundred of
Eight. And elephants have an
excessive nose. What do you want
It's just -- feels unnatural.
No, the platypus is unnatural and
you've got TEN fingers and a wet
wiggly pink thing in your mouth.
You're super fast --
Thank you -- we've had many years
of running from you.
Funny. -- And all those eyes.
All the better to see you with my
dear. No but for real -- if you
were to blindfold any of my eyes,
I'd be a mess. They weren't
designed to freak you out okay. The
world doesn't revolve around you --
And you eat flies.
Flies eat poop.
Really? We're gonna go there?
I'm just telling you things I find
gross about you. Don't take it
Uh huh. Well you're really making
Okay, what did you have for lunch?
What'd you have for lunch?
Not bugs if that's --
No just -- what did you eat?
Mac and cheese with sliced hot
Ha. Are you kidding me? Hot dogs? I
mean I'm all about liquefying my
meals and wrapping them in casing --
but intestinal lining filled with
eyeballs and butt parts -- over
breast milk noodles. Yep.
Okay okay, gross, I get your point.
That's a — whole other level of
nasty. I'm eating fresh bugs over
here while you're into corn-syrup -
butt wiener nuggets.￼
I get it! How do you know all this?
Because I'm psychic.
Or I'm projecting.
Or you're avoiding the subject.
What do you want me to say? I don't
eat bugs, alright.
Yeah you do. You eat like -- what
are those weird looking scorpion
shrimp -- crawdads -- you eat
crawdads. Crustaceans. Scavengers.
Lobsters. Crabs -- you know -- the
giant water cockroaches with claws?
They eat dead things, just like
flies -- and don't even get me
started on Fungi.
For your information, I don't eat
I was talking culturally,
cuuuulturally -- but, whatever. I
really don't care what you eat.
You're just really ridin' my
abdomen on this one.
And just so you know, our
compatibility is through the roof.
We're symbiotic. I could make this
place a "no-fly zone" for you if
Thanks, spider-joke -- your diet
argument is moot. Sooo...
Why can't we be friends?
Because that's not how the world
works. I'm not -- humans aren't
friends with bugs.
What about butterflies?
You lose your shit for butterflies.
"Oh! It landed in my eye! Isn't
Butterflies are different.
AH HAH! Now we're getting
No I -- I didn't -- well, you bite
Eighty percent of our bites are
misdiagnosed and... No, nope. I
know what humans think of me, I
just -- it hurts to hear it out
loud. I've always struggled with
the way I look.
This is ridiculous. What the hell
is going on?
(stopping her from
Hupbupbupbupbup. This has been a
long time comin'. A spider's
lament: chapter one.
Hollywood brands me as one of the
most terrifying things on this
friggin' planet. Eight-legged
Freaks, Arachnaphobia, Shelob,
Aragog, Little Miss Muffet for
god's sake -- the list goes on. I'm
powerless against the power of the
consumer. Right? Right. Would you
defend spider rights in court? Hell
And I'M certainly not the
"spokespider" for my species. I'm
an anxious arachnid. An introverted
An edgy eight-legged arthropod --
Okay okay --
I have no voice! -- and if I don't
matter...people will just keep
seeing me as another evil, violent,
nuisance to society. Even if I
changed a few minds, Hollywood
would just make another big scary
movie enabling the audience to say,
"oh good, now I don't feel bad
about squishing and stomping." And
when money is to be made... Bam.
Stereotyped. It's always an uphill
battle with your superficial
NO! YOU decided we were the bad
guys because of the way we look.
Caterpillars can hide behind their
butterfly wings. No matter how
beautiful I make my web -- it's how
Maybe if I wore makeup or a costume
to look like you. Like a fairy.
Yeah - then maybe then you could
see me for who I am. If I was like
a badass fairy huntress. Tinkerbell
with a net over my shoulder
carrying a bug I just caught with
my little elvish poison daggers
that magically can't pierce human
skin, only my dinner, THEN you'd
probably wave to me and show me off
to your friends saying, "Check out
my little fairy friend! She keeps
my room clean and safe from other
bugs." You'd be all over that jazz.
If. I. Looked. Like. You.
But I don't. And I shouldn't.
I shouldn't want to look like you.
I should be proud and happy with
who I am and the way I look.
Just (sigh) be careful. If your
culture screams and kills spiders
as if it's normal, that fear you're
trying to shake, will be embedded
You're just a spider.
Woof -- I'm trying to smooth over
thousands of years of spider
oppression with one immature girl.
Excuse me? I've had a traumatic
incident with your kind.
Can I ask what happened?
I guess -- sure. I was seven years
old watching Saturday morning
cartoons. My dad was in the kitchen
boiling a teapot -- and a jumping
spider crawled into my ear.
I'll never forget that feeling. I
could hear it. I screamed. Dad came
PHEOBE WHAT'S THE MATTER!?
I wish he had handled it better.
Hey hey -- it's okay. Look at me.
Turn your head.
I know, this is pretty scary huh.
But you're okay. You're not going
to get hurt you're not in any
danger. It's just a little --
little tiny bug okay? It's just
scared, like you. It'll come out.
Trust me okay?
I'm going to get the phone in the
kitchen, I'll be right back.
But that's not what happened. Like
I said -- it runs in the family.
OH MY GOD -- OH MY GOD! PHEOBE
DON'T MOVE. Shit. What do I do?
Sweetie tilt your head. TILT YOUR
HEAD. Damnit, I can't get it.
She's breathing hard. He goes to the kitchen and dials.
Yes. Hello? Yeah, my kid has a
spider in her ear. What do I do?
It's not going to poison her or
He went to call a nurse. I --
couldn't take it. It was moving
around, like some kind of horror
movie. I kept thinking about what
the boys at school said about --
you know, spiders laying eggs in
your brain, which I know is untrue
now but...at seven.
I heard the teapot screaming aand --
it was the only thing I could think
I lost all hearing in my right ear
and scalds everywhere. I went into
shock, ER, everything. Just a
freak's accident - freak accident.
And they even --
They found the jumping spider on
the couch. Apparently it came out
Yep, so spider trauma exhibit A.
You can say something if you want.
I know I'm a "buzzkill."
I don't now what to say. Thank you
for opening up.
If it's any comfort, I can barley
see it -- the scar.
Literally half my face is
Nono -- I believe you. I mean, I
can barley see it -- I have
horrible eyesight. Most of us do.
Ain't no jumpin' spider here. Their
eyesight's amazing. I guess that's
what I'm getting at, I'm not the
spider that did that to you. I make
webs. And I'm not trying to sound
cold. I understand -- as organisms,
we're all putting things in
categories. But at some point,
after a breakup, you gotta start
dating again and -- even eat the
food that gave you food poisoning.
So then maybe we can't be friends
yet, but how about just not mortal
What do you mean?
Like, seriously, when have I tried
to kill you?
Probably all the time. Definitely
when I'm asleep I've been bit a
bunch of times --
Yeah I know. I've heard it's most
likely another bug. Bedbugs, mites,
Yeah mosquitoes -- WHOA can we just
take a second to agree they kill
EVERYONE. Like THE deadliest
creature to humans. And you don't
scream at them...so weird. And
spiders don't kill like, anyone.
My teeth are clean. I'm not
carrying any malaria or yellow
fever or -- or ZIKA. I'm healthier
than a cat scratch after pooping in
What do you think, we're like:
HAHAHA bow before the all evil.
Tremble before my hairiness.
AHAHAHA I will eat you...and run
around, really fast and -- and
wiggle my legs in a weird way! Here
I go across the floor. Hahahaha --
Here I go again AhHAHAHAA. Now that
I have thoroughly destroyed your
psyche I'm going back to my evil
lair to just -- ya know, sit around
for most of the day. Yes hehe.
You absolutely would go around
killing and eating everyone.
No, that's what you do. You're
putting human thoughts into a
different species. I eat everything
I catch. You make food and most of
the time don't even eat it. I'm not
evil, I'm just hungry. Ahh the
beautiful romanticism of fear. I
mean be careful around Widows and
Recluses but you don't need to
scream every time you see one. Help
the old lady across the street but
don't get in the sketchy van. Get
I heard there's a spider always 10
feet away from a human.
Wow, that's a lot of people.
No that's a lot of spiders. There
aren't sketchy vans ten feet away
from every human! Here, I'm gonna
look something up. Hey Siri.
Siri's Boop Boop.
How many spiders are on Earth
compared to humans?
Ok. I found this on the web for how
many spiders are on Earth compared
Ooooh... the web again, so cool --
Why is she Australian?
I don't know if this is the site to
go to but...okay, there are 25
million tons of spiders and 7.8
Tons, huh? How many tons of humans?
Clicking on phone.
Okay...A human, on average, is 137
pounds, so... 137 times 7.8 Billion
is... one trillion, sixty-eight
billion and six hundred million
pounds, which converted into tons
is... two thousand pounds per ton,
so... wow, hello math.
Technically, Siri is doing it for
Uh, ok it's five hundred and thirty
four million, three hundred
So about half a billion?
So is that more than twenty five
million spider tons?
Ok, I get it.
Oh, oh... you do? I'm sorry, so
what does that mean?
That there are more humans in mass
than spiders, which means...I don't
know, spiders should be more afraid
And we are. Trust me.
We friends now?
My therapist says there's only two
species of spider that are of any
concern in the United States.
No, not really.
There ya go. Just don't put any of
those two in your ear and you'll be
fine -- sorry. Too soon.
I know you understand irrational
fear and irrational thoughts. I
mean, talking to a spider might not
be the pinnacle of sanity...but
you're working it out!
-- Why we run up the stairs when
the lights are out, why hiding
under the covers will protect us
from demons. You're asking
questions, which is awesome --
eight thumbs way up if I had 'em.
Fear shouldn't be the default,
curiosity should be. Sure, fear has
it's uses -- it can keep us safe.
But it also, as with your case,
hinders relationships, work, and
day to day life. So learning about
the things we fear is the best step
forward. To look at a spider and
say, "Oh, hello there." Instead of,
"Oh hell no there."
Get what I'm spinnin' here?
Yeah okay, but knowing I have
irrational thoughts doesn't help me
get over it.
I disagree. Awareness,
conditioning, exposure -- everyday
will add up in a big way.
Before you know it you'll be
reading a book in your backyard,
glance up, see me, and shrug it
off. Who knows, you might even find
me -- beautiful, dare I say a
hottie -- not a spider joke.
Phoebe approaches Charlotte to pick her up.
I'll try it.
Try what? Wait, no way. You don't
have to do it now, like Ohmygod,
give it some time.
No, no. I've -- trust me I've given
it my whole life.
Okay -- if you're coming my way
just remember -- um -- fact --
You're massive. Absolutely colossal
in comparison to me. I'm no larger
than a cracker and/or walnut. I'm
just your friendly household
spiderfriend. Um. Wait, Are you --
how're you feeling?
I don't know -- scared.
Ok. Good. I'm terrified.
(under her breath)
Please don't kill me.
That would be the easy way --
Okay, I'm a little closer.
Okay -- I'm -- you need to know I
have -- I'm using the fly swatter?
Oh okay -- like... for what?
I don't know yet.
Ok. You can do this. Feel the new
connections firing in your brain.
You're not going to die, I'm not
going to kill you. Vending machines
are the enemy. I'm a fraction of
your size. You're doing great.
Wow, you're real big and real
Whoa! Hey! Oh... is that -- is that
uh -- something I can walk on?
Yes -- holy shit -- please do it
quick -- I mean, not too quick -- I
couldn't handle you moving like
Yeah oh oh I understand.
(nervous humorous voice)
All aboard captain.
Both have super nervous laughter.
I moved cause you moved! You
dropped me. Okay okay, there that
wasn't so bad.
Okay this time don't move.
I'm a spider, I don't know what's
Running up stairs, then the door opens.
DAD? DAD WAIT!
Got it. Everything's okay. I'm
sorry, I just got your message. I
left my phone in the car. You okay?
Am I dead? I'm an angel! With my
little spidey wings -- oh wait. God
doesn't give souls to spiders.
There's another one on your fly
She walks to the window.
Here Charlotte. You can step on the
Okay, fine. Friends. Get out of
Sweetheart. You okay?
Yeah, I -- need some time to
Yeah two spiders in one day.
That wasn't a spider. You stepped
on an exoskeleton. She -- molted.
Why'd you tell me to stop?
I don't know.
You hate spiders.
I just -- I -- hated the way they
look, I guess.
You feeling okay?
I mean I'm proud you're talking
this through though.
Dad. I'm hearing voices and need to
call my therapist.
Okay. Well -- we'll make an
You know you can always talk about
these things to me right?
Yeah -- I'm going to be doing a lot
more of that.
End music and credits.