We all have those fears we know don’t really make sense but haunt us anyway. Here are ours…
My biggest fear is entirely rational: snakes. I don’t care if they’re venomous or not, if it’s “yellow-be-mellow-but-red-you’re-dead.” I will die anyway if I see one, of a heart attack. I don’t like the way they whip through the grass or lurk on warm sidewalks in the dark. I cannot stand them, Sam-I-Am. When I lived down South, I wouldn’t go near a pond, lake or ditch and I wouldn’t hike through the woods lest one drop down on my head after pretending to be a piece of hanging moss. Before we moved to NH I (literally) looked up poisonous snakes. Zero (well, except for a few endangered timber rattlers they’re trying to reintroduce (???!!) to the wild.) To get back at these evil, slimy (yes, to me they are slimy; I don’t care what Ranger Rick says), fang-faced, squeezing villains, I cast them in my Ladies Smythe & Westin series, which is conveniently set in Florida, on a regular basis. In PERMANENTLY BOOKED, Camo the Intentionally-Released Exotic Python lurks all over town in the bushes, swamps, and beaches and my sleuth Summer throws her cell phone at him. (She later regrets that.) Take THAT, Snakes!!!
My heart races and I hold my breath every time I drive over train tracks. I live in fear that I’ll be halfway across when the red lights suddenly start flashing, I hear that bonk-bonk-bonk warning horn, and there I am, stuck on the train track with a Metrolink or Amtrak train barreling down on me. I know it makes no sense. They give you plenty of warning. But what if they don’t, really? Or what if some sensor is broken? It’s why I’ll always wait if there are other cars ahead of me – enough to keep me on the tracks until we get a green light on the other side of them. I’m not taking any chances, thank you.
BTW, I also suffer from acrophobia. I literally get faint looking out floor-to-ceiling windows, and can’t ride chair lifts or horses. But I don’t consider a fear of heights irrational. Being high up is scary! What if you fall????
Mice. I personally don’t think this is an irrational fear, but some people think they’re cute. A mouse isn’t cute unless you’re at Disney World and he’s waving his gloved hand at you! I grew up in the city and had never experienced having a mouse in the house. My family moved to a new house in the country, next to woods and fields, when I was an older teen. A couple of nights after we moved in, my sister and I complained to our dad that we heard noises inside the walls. He said it was probably just a mouse. JUST a mouse! I barely slept until the house was de-verminated. Many years later, I was sharing a house with a roommate and made the horrifying discovery of a mouse in the dishwasher. I thought I might have to move. Fortunately, my less squeamish roomie trapped it the next day.
Though I wouldn’t call it irrational by any means (!!!), I have a fear of elevators that just wait with their door open. My sister lived in a building like that about 10 years ago. And whenever, I’d come over, I’d walk up to the lobby to find an elevator just waiting there with its door open. I think it was supposed to be inviting. It was not. I’d just patiently wait for the elevator’s door to close, then push the button and wait for the next elevator. Of course, I honestly don’t know what I expect to happen if I did fall for the elevator’s trickery and stepped into this trap, but I sure have no plans to find out.
Not to sound like a cliché but: clowns freak me out. It all started when my beloved grandparents gave me a statue they’d brought back from Europe. It was made of thick colored glass, but it wasn’t clear and bright—it was murky and disturbing. The elements of the clown’s face were tacked onto the surface and protruded ominously, especially the bulging eyes that appeared to fix you with a cold glare. Also, the figure was oddly curved in a way that made it seem as though he was bending toward you. Or moving toward you. Many nights, you could find me in bed with the sheets pulled up to my nose, squinting hard through the dark, checking to make sure that he wasn’t coming closer. When I was in elementary school, I started hiding him in a drawer or closet. Then my mom would find him and put him back on my dresser—not her fault because I never could articulate how much he terrified me. Once, I tried to talk my little sister into taking him (“I adore him, of course, but he matches your wallpaper!”), but she was wise beyond her years and didn’t fall for my sales pitch. I don’t know what ever happened to him….but I pray that I won’t open a moving box someday and find him inside!
Readers, what are your irrational – or rational -fears?
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