In honor of Halloween, here are some things I’m afraid of. Stupid things–for information on the things I’m really afraid of, such as dying alone and childless and being eaten by cats after not having an orgasm for decades, see every other post on this blog.
1. Agriculture: My youngest aunt is only nine years older than I am, and she was our most frequent babysitter, a job she did not relish. When I was 8 or 9, she let me watch Children of the Corn. There are a lot of cornfields where I’m from. To this day, if I have to drive through them at night, I roll up the windows, lock the doors, and floor it. Same with the woods. Being stranded at night on a country road is among the most terrifying things I can think of. (I do an awesome imitation of Isaac when he’s possessed by the devil though–ask me if we ever meet and I have been drinking. Clip of the relevant scene here. I wouldn’t watch it, but you are welcome to.)
2. The dark. I cannot sleep in the dark. On my own, I have to have a bright nightlight, preferably two in case the first one fails. I would no sooner walk into a dark room or down a dark hallway than I would run for pleasure. Why risk it?
3. Birds. I can appreciate birds in nature, when they are far away from me. I can appreciate decorative bird items–indeed, I appreciate them far too much. I’m currently obsessed with peacock jewelry and clothing, for instance, and left to my own devices I would wear some peacock-ish thing every day.(I own these. They make my life worth living.)
But city birds waddling around near me, or any birds flying anywhere near me, send me into an uncontrollable shrieky flappy dance. I throw my arms up to shield my head and ululate with terror. Because those fuckers are out to get me: they are trying to get a grip on my hair with their disgusting scaly talons, and when they do, I will die of horror.
4. Heights. This one isn’t my fault, I don’t think, but a consequence of my lack of depth perception. As such, it isn’t exactly heights I’m afraid of, but depths. Walking up to any sort of precipice, or down any steep slope even, sends my nervous system into overdrive: my knees lock and my heart pounds and my ears roar and every cell in me screams NOOOOO. (Metro escalator outages hurt me.)
The first panic attack I ever had came at a Peter Gabriel concert, where we had seats way way up in the nosebleed section. It was a boiling hot day and I was distressingly hung over, so I think I was extra susceptible, but once I sat in my seat and saw how steeply the tiers dropped off to the ground, I was…I guess hysterical would be the appropriate descriptor. I had to crawl out backwards on my hands and knees. But then guest services moved us to the front row, thanks to my sister’s wheeling and dealing. (Solisbury Hill is one of my very favorite songs in the world.)
5. Showers. I’m mostly over this one, but I showered with the curtain partially open and me eyes trained on the door for YEARS AND YEARS after seeing that stupid scene in Psycho. For the same reason, I could not/cannot blowdry my hair in an empty house because it renders me unable to hear the murderers coming. I’m not putting hairdryers on their own line though, because I’m afraid I’m starting to seem neurotic as I type all of these out.
6. Scary movies. Too many years of babysitting in creepy houses. I can’t even look at commercials for scary movies. I didn’t sleep for a week after watching The Blair Witch Project, and I threw up during Paranormal Activities, though I am officially blaming that on popcorn.
7. Roller coasters. This one is particularly unfair, because I loved roller coasters my entire life. Ohio has awesome amusement parks, and riding the newest, scariest ride was the high point of every summer. Then, two years ago, I went to Six Flags for the first time and my seat belt/harness broke going up the first hill of a coaster I’d never ridden. It was dark, and for all I knew we were about to loop-the-loop and I would be catapulted to my death. Dying on a roller coaster is not the glamorous end I plan for myself. Soooo declasse. Plus, I was utterly rigid with terror the whole time I was in that seat and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
8. Rabbits. Lore among my friends and family has it that I am afraid of these twitchy little rodents, but it’s more of a strong dislike. I will scream like I’m being eviscerated if a rat or mouse comes near me, but that’s just human nature.
9. Eardrum bursting. In sixth grade, my friend Jennifer had an ear infection so severe that her eardrum ruptured. She described the feeling “like a bomb going off in her head.” She was a bit of a drama queen, but I take great pains to knock myself out if I have to fly with congested ears because I tend to freak out a little.
I’m sure I could come up with a tenth, but I think you all get the picture.
What silly things are you afraid of?