Doing battle with daily dragons

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Fear Factor

I’ve had a chance this weekend to think about phobias. In this wide world there are plenty. According to Schott’s Miscellany, some of the more unique psychoses include bariohobia, the fear of garlic, pteronophobia, the fear of being tickled with feathers, barophobia, the fear of gravity and keraunothnetophobia, which is the fear of The International Space Station falling on your head.

The Rock Star’s gigs on Friday and Saturday took us to some venues that I probably never would have frequented even in the days when I thought that being stuck in a jostling mass of the sobriety impaired was a good night out. I believe I’ve discovered that yet another little quirk I’ve gleaned from my father’s genetic pool is agoraphobia, which is a fear of crowds. However, I’m open to the idea that it might just be the TYPE of crowd that makes me distinctly nervous, so a more apt description of my ailment might be intoxodorkaphobia, which is the fear of 10 drunk Rugby players jumping up and down in the middle of the dance floor to The Proclaimers “500 Miles” after consuming 12 pints of lager.

Your own phobias are obviously serious and sometimes debilitating. However, other people’s are almost always hilarious. Three cases for your consideration:

The Girl- A word to strike fear into the heart of…well…just her really: The Girl is the only female member of The Rock Star’s band. As a side note, in her absence this weekend, I discovered that the tone of the evening gets lowered considerably when she’s not around. (I obviously don’t possess enough estrogen for the lads to consider that I might be offended by the copious, spontaneous and tumultuous passing of gas.) For some reason, when we were all on holiday in Banff, she let slip that the word “gristle” physically made her teeth itch. Naturally, it’s been slipped into nearly every conversation since just to see her make “the gristle face.” We figure it’s only a matter of time before she meets the man of her dreams and discovers, to her horror, that his surname is Gristle. Then, after they’re married, every doctor’s waiting room would be a nightmare.

“Mrs Gristle?”

“Ack, ack ack ack, ack…..”

The Rock Star- Mr. Hand: It’s my fervent hope that everyone here knows what I’m talking about- My favorite episode of the Muppet Show when I was younger was the one on which Senor Wences, famous puppeteer and ventriloquist, was the guest star. (I’ve just discovered, courtesy of a huge Muppet fan boy, that it was Episode 104, originally aired on May 30th, 1981. I love the Internet.) One of the puppets he used was simply his own hand (using his thumb for a mouth) covered in a wig. This is a horror that makes the Rock Star fall of the couch. If I want to give him a terminal case of the heebie jeebies, all I have to do, is bring out Mr. Hand. For extra ick factor, sticking your other thumb through the “mouth” of the other hand creates an unpleasant illusion of a tongue which I inevitably try to snog him with. A grown man trying to climb out of his own skin at the sight of a talking hand should be on everyone’s “to see” list.

Papapotamus- Sly: I grew up in the woods. Seriously, my house was surrounded by what could have passed for the set of The Blair Witch Project. (Filmed only 35 minutes away from our house, actually.) Taking the dog out for a wee at night may as well have been a death sentence for a child with an over active imagination. I knew there were things with lots of tentacles in the woods that wanted to eat me back then and I still know it now. My father’s fear of the woods, however, is slightly different and it has to do with Sly.

Sly is a 5 ½ foot long black snake. He’s been living under my parent’s patio in various incarnations since I was a sophomore in high school. Black snakes are entirely harmless, but any animal that’s almost as long as you are tall and can slither up your trouser leg is bound to give just about anyone the willies. Sly has been spotted:

in my father’s tool shed. He got caught in chicken wire and my mom and I had to wrestle him while my father cut him loose. In gratitude, once free, he flung himself at dad, obviously intent on giving him a big, snakey hug.

on the grill. Dad came in after lifting the cover on the grill and asked my mother forlornly, “Um, can we grill some other night?” “Oh for pete’s sake!” mom replied as she marched outside, grabbed Sly by the tail and threw him into the woods. He bit her.

on the bookshelf in my parent’s bedroom. All I can say is it’s a good thing Dad found him there during the day as snakes like warm places at night. I think waking up with a snake in his bed grinning at him would have truly finished my father off.

Any phobics out there want to share their tales of woe?