Doing battle with daily dragons

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kid Fears

As adults, we can often trace our various psychoses to stuff that happened to us when our brains were soft and malleable; before hardened and rubbery grey matter we’re stuck with for life emerged.

I’ve never liked standing next to big things. It’s almost like reverse vertigo. The Air and Space Museum in the Smithsonian was always a mixed bag for me as a kid; I was fascinated by the amazing machines in every corner of the place but terrified that one might fall and squash me flat. The same went for our visit to the Kennedy Space Center; standing under one of the Apollo rockets that was hung from the ceiling of a huge warehouse gave me a terminal case of the willies. (I seem to see an aeronautical theme emerging. Maybe I’m just afraid of big things that fly. Glad I wasn’t around for pterodactyls.)

My mother tells me that when I was small, there was a skit on Sesame Street that always used to have me running for cover. It was a lesson in big and small, I think and featured the erstwhile Grover as a badgered waiter. The difficult customer was dissatisfied with the “small” hamburger and asked for the biggest in the house. On Grover’s second trip to the kitchen, there is a huge rumbling sound and Grover shouts, “Okay Charlie, broil the BIGGIE!” He then comes through the doors with a hamburger 5 times his size which promptly squashes him flat. This was apparently unbearable for me and I’d always run from the room. I think this was the source of the strange phobia of towering things that I’ve still got to this day. To be fair, I know an awful lot of people who can remember being terrified of all things Muppet when they were little. (Don’t even get me started on the talking Beethoven statue on the top of Rolf the Dog’s piano. That gave me nightmares for years.)

So, who else has some nonsensical childhood fears to share?