Fear Factor

I think of myself as pretty courageous. I mean, I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I’m also not afraid to take some risks or speak up when it’s difficult. I’ve lived all over the country and never hesitated to venture out on my own and explore new places.

Side Note: There was that one time, years ago, when I was driving from Indiana to Rochester, Michigan and my low fuel light came on. No problem, I’ll just pull into this convenience store and gas up. WRONG. The clerk came out and told me to keep moving. I guess being 24 and irresistible in Detroit after dark isn’t a great combination. What’s that you say? I am resistible? Noted.

But back to the point. I’d say I’m pretty brave as a whole. There are, however, some things that scare the living daylights out of me. I should say tornadoes and death row, but I’m actually more scared at work when I pull open the restroom door to leave and someone’s coming in at the exact same time. Full. on. fright. with scary jazz hands and heart palps.

It’s also no secret that my sympathy pains are second-to-none, which frightens me a great deal during the Winter Olympics. For this reason, I’ve had to take breaks during both the moguls and Bob Costas’ commentary. I simply cannot abide a torn ACL or pink eye right now.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Another thing that scares me lifeless is turning on my iPhone camera, and being met unexpectedly by a grotesque person I’ve never seen before: me. Why is my camera in front-facing mode and when did I become a sullen grumpy gus who super-sized one too many #3’s at Mickie D’s? What the WHAT is up with that view? Do we really look like that to the world at large? It’s so discouraging when your worst face shows up with an extra chin … unannounced. I go from epic confusion to pitiful self-loathing, in under five seconds. But then that sweet old friend named Denial kicks in and I grab a bag of Takis.

Speaking of photos, I’m legit scared that I’ll be involved in something that lands me on the news and they’ll use a hideous picture of me. I feel like I should handpick one now and make sure everyone in my family has it, just in case. I could send them a file labeled CNNanna.jpg. I should send two actually—one where I look happy and loving, in case I get framed for some terrible crime and people need to see me in a better light. The second one could be me looking humble, modest and unassuming, in case I’ve done something heroic and need to temper the flames of admiration.

My mom and I are scared to death of water treatment plants (and some dams). We’re good with massive oceans or lakes; they’re part of nature and less menacing. And I can’t speak for her—nor can I put my finger on it—but I feel like some unsavory activity is going on in these facilities. We’ve braved the sight of a few dams together (though not comfortably), but a water treatment plant shuts us up and renders us speechless until it’s well in our rear-view mirror.

I can't.

I can’t.

Every time I get a new car, I’m scared I’ll be assigned a license plate that’s got unfortunate letter combinations, like KGB or NIP or FRT. I absolutely hate the F-word (no, not that one, the other one.) Even when it’s used like “artsy-f***sy” or “brain f***.” UGH. I don’t even want to type it, so of course I worry that I’ll get it as my license plate—and God will be on His throne, shake laughing and thinking He’s pretty funny. I think the DMV would show some mercy if I got the sign of the beast, but would those same good folks care that I’m put off by the F-word? What about this one?:

Well that's unlucky.

Well that’s unlucky.

I’m super scared of pirates and beheadings. Please don’t tell me they go hand in hand, because I could maaaaybe handle a couple of weeks with pirates, but only if it didn’t automatically end in a beheading. As much as I hate paper cuts and stubbed toes, I can’t imagine how much worse a beheading would be. But now that I think about it, if all the pirates could just see what I look like on my front-facing iPhone camera, they’d have little use for me. WAIT—unless what they’re after is a breakdancer with nunchuck skills, in which case, we’d have a big problem.

I’m scared of the savage thoughts I think when I hear someone scuffing their feet when they walk. I wouldn’t be frighted of just thinking, “Oh my gosh, pick up your feet,” but the places my vocabulary goes is appalling—not to mention the ways I imagine giving that person a reason to shuffle. I KNOW! I said it scares me! I usually come in peace, but that lazy-scuff-walk makes me go to dishonorable places in my heart.

ladysailor

I’m afraid of how I’ll react when I finally meet some of my favorite celebrities. There is a decent chance I’ll mess it up. I say this for two reasons. Back in the day, when Dr. Phil was just blowin’ up and hadn’t yet become a fixture on Oprah’s show, I ran into him at a bookstore. Someone already had his attention so I hung around, perusing the Western section, until he was free. This is when I blurted out, “I think you’re awesome!”

Not “Hello.” Not “What are you, 6’4?” Nope.

Then there was the time when we’d just hired a lady at work who, for all intents and purposes, was a pretty big deal. I’d seen her speak at a couple of events and was extremely impressed. One day I saw—well ahead of time—that we were going to cross paths. As with the Dr. Phil situation, I had time to think; but couldn’t decide between “Hey” and “How are you?” Things took a sharp left turn when she spoke first, saying, “Gorgeous day out,” to which I replied, “Heee-howwww.”

Hey came out sounding like Hee and How came out sounding like Howwww; which meant, combined, it sounded like an offensive half donkey, half Native American impersonation. And just when I wanted to vanish into thin air, I felt my hands coming together in prayer as I bowed towards her.

So yeah—I’m scared.

I’d like to leave you with one last fear of mine, and that is the very real terror of autocorrect finally winning. I’m not talking about the occasional “her” instead of “get” or “coco” instead of “xoxo.” I’m talking more along the lines of these disasters:

These are MILD examples of my fear.

These are MILD examples of my fear.

It would make me feel better if I could hear some of your irrational fears. Even if you’re just secretly scared that the snow in Sochi is going to melt before the games are over—we’re friends here—and I’d like to know.

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42 thoughts on “Fear Factor

  1. I will say that ol Bob is quite fearless—the oh so pretty boy of sports broadcast– sporting glasses which make him look more like Truman Capote than the eternally young ken doll image which he has worked so hard to maintain. I’ve been wondering if they don’t have drops for pink eye in Russia or should one not trust anything in Sochi to go into one’s body—this after seeing images of what the Russian’s at the hotels were telling guests was “dangerous” water—which when running out of the spigots is completely yellow.
    I have the torn ACL–not repaired–making me often fearful, but carrying on as fearless 🙂

    • Bob is indeed quite fearless! Are you planning on getting your ACL repaired? How’d you do it? And if it’s from something like tripping over a wet towel or something, feel free to make up a better story 😉

      • oh no, it’s a good story and all true. . .many moons ago, shall we say approx 18 years—my husband and I, along with our son who was in 2nd grade at the time, had gone to a football game at the local high school where I was teaching —a big to-do here in the South you know. It was tradition for kids to gather at the wall of the bleachers for the cheerleaders to toss little footballs to the kids up in the stands. They all flocked at the end of the stands jockeying for position. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity as some kids came running up to us telling us our kid had been pushed over the wall. The bigger kids pushed the little one out of the way in order to procure the coveted little footballs, sending our kid toppling over the railing onto the warning track. He was motionless and we just knew he’d broken his neck and was dead. We sprinted to the wall. I knew I should have taken one more step before jumping, but I didn’t. I went sailing over the wall only to land with a horrendous popping noise coming from my knee—but my son was out cold on the track and I needed to get to him—I literally dragged myself over to him. By now EMTs were gathered, the superintendent and us. Thank God he had just the breath knocked out of him. My mortified, I hate attention, husband, grabs our son to make our way back out of the lime light into oblivion. I tell him I’ve done something to my knee and can’t move. He proceeds to tell me through gritted teeth “to get up– now”
        Long story short–it was not until the following monday when I went to the orthopedics that I was told it was a major torn ACL–with them all wondering how I managed from the fall until Monday, doing nothing for it—if only they knew my husband—the mentality of “you’re fine, just spit on it and rub a little dirt on it”—weeks of rehab as the idiot doctor told me because of my age (a young 30 something) and that I did not play tennis, he just recommended rehab and no surgery. Well, I told myself that I’d get it repaired once I retired as it is not a knee to be trusted, going out and giving away with just one wrong pivot—-but retirement was two years ago—so we shall see…
        This and athletes who tear theirs during competition are carted off as if they dying and I hobbled bad to watch the end of a nail bitter of a game. They ain’t got nothing on me!!
        aren’t you sorry you asked 😉

        • Oh. My. That IS quite a story. You must hate the idea of having it repaired at this point—although it must be awful not being able to trust it. Well goodness. I hope you’ll write about it if/when you decide to have surgery! Good luck to you 🙂

  2. The surprise front-facing iPhone camera is enough to send me on a self-hate bender. And as I’m laughing out loud over your pre-planned pictures for the media and CNN … I’m also considering this plan for myself! Brill!! An irrational fear of mine: getting lost while driving near large cities or unfamiliar areas. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to fall off the Earth or end up sinking into quicksand if I get lost — I’ll just have to pull over and refresh the Google Map app on my phone. So why does it make me panic??

    • Self-hate bender—THIS!!!!! I’ve already heard from some others elsewhere that they DO have designated pics, so maybe it’s not that crazy of a plan! The ONLY thing that makes your fear irrational is that yes, you do have an iPhone with a really good GPS 🙂 But fear are fears!

  3. LOL – I could barely continue reading because I was laughing so hard over the Bob Costas Pinkeye – Mike and I have been falling (in horrified sympathy, of course) out over that all week! And then, you may remember my horror when we were at that brick-oven-everything restaurant and I tried to be kind and take a table photo of all those old people, and couldn’t get the phone off my face! Good Grief!! One of my many irrational fears? I hate being forced to walk over street grates in New York or other big cities – I’m afraid that it will fall in and I’ll plummet to my dirty, sewer death. I also hate running under big highway overpasses – I’m afraid they will come crashing down on me and no one will ever find my remains.

    • Poor Bob! Jon Acuff had me in stitches tweeting about it all last night. Poor dude. LOL, I don’t even think I realized what took you SO LONG to take that dang pic! Jocelyn doesn’t care for the grates either—but I kind of seek them out to prove my badassery. I’m pretty sure your remains could be located if that was a real accident … it’s not like you’d disintegrate!

  4. Poor Bob. It must have been such a bummer to wake up on the first day of Olympic coverage with that eye and know he has to face all those cameras (not to mention the entire country). My secret fear is geckos. I’m not squeamish about many things, but seeing one of those little guys run up the side of my shower curtain one morning with their suckery feet is something I’ll never get over. It didn’t help when my son tried to catch it and its tail popped off. Yuck.

    • For real though—poor Bob. He’s a trooper. But I still have to look away, for fear I’ll catch it. I’m so troubled that you had a gecko in the shower with you. But it was all made better by the visual of the tail popping off, snorrrrrrrt. I mean, I LOVE lizards and don’t wish a lost tail on any of them, but that was kinda funny 🙂

      • I like lizards, too, but there’s something about the suckers on the long toes that I just can’t take. As for Bob, my daughter just happened to have an eye last week on vacation that looked exactly like his. She took a lot of ribbing about it. When I turned on the Olympics and saw Bob’s eye, looking exactly like my daughter’s, I couldn’t wait to text her and tell her to turn on the TV and see her kindred spirit.

  5. Good thing Bob is wearing those glasses or you would be looking straight into those conjunctivitis filled eyes…he is brave to be going on air every night with such a condition.

    My biggest, most irrational fear comes down to critters. I love LOVE swimming, and I love swimming in natural waters…the ocean, lakes, etc…but every time I dive under, I can’t help but imagine all the critters…the slimy fish I may be swimming RIGHT next to. Ew, gross. Or snakes…slithering and wrapping its body around my legs. Or mice. I detest mice. I know, they’re cute and little, tiny fur balls with cute pink noses…but they aren’t. They can squeeze thru tiny little holes and be crawling in your walls or running around under your couch. It is even worse when you find the remnants of the mouse, but can’t figure out where they are or where they’re hiding. So, you know he/she is out there…and probably breeding and creating more mice babies in the mouse nest built in the wall next to your bed. Gross! I tried to take the mouse population down at our old house, and I mostly succeeded, but my urge to capture (I make Ryan kill them) also resulted in my knee falling through the electric stove range (another reason to have gas stoves!).

    • I feel like I AM looking into his conjunctivitis eyes! I feel sorry for him and admire him, but that doesn’t keep me from getting sympathy pink eye, People!!! I absolutely LOVE critters, but you are c-r-a-z-y to swim where there are water snakes. We have a pond behind our house that’s at the bottom of the 13th hole and we trek down each evening (in the summer) to see and CRINGE OUT over all the water snakes in it. But swim with them? NO, NO, NO.

      • Oh, I don’t purposefully swim with them…but you know they could be down there. The lake where I mostly swim is beautiful and pristine. I don’t think twice about jumping in, but you never really know what’s lurking in the depths. Even when we were in Florida this summer, I got the eebie jeebies when we saw stingray jumping in the waves. I was sitting on the shore, but I definitely got all grossed out.

        A post above reminded me of another irrational fear….not going under the over pass, but rather over. I have the exact spot pictured in my mind. It’s in California…a pass over the insanely busy freeway (all ten lanes of it!). And every time we walk over it, I can’t help but get this fear that California will suddenly have an earthquake, and I will come crashing down. Worse yet, it’ll just collapse randomly onto the crazy busy freeway…

  6. oh Bob’s eyes!!!! I’m surprised I’m able to type this and don’t have tears streaming down my face. I cannot even look at someone with an eye issue or mine immediately tear up. The irony of this is that I get allergy eyes all the time…itchy, watery and many times (gasp!) red 😦 If Bob was close by I would knuckle bump him…

    The CNN pics!!! Love it! And totally loving the “Heeeeee Howwwwwwww”

  7. As your macho father, I never really had an irrational fear of critters or illnesses. But, and your mom will attest to this, any time my kids were in danger I was an IDIOT! Now that I’m much much much older, and no longer required to be macho, I can look back and say that I should have been afaid of that bullsnake that bit me on the finger. I should have been afraid when you kids were jumping off of the roof. I should have been afraid when you twirled you nun-chucks around your head. All I’m afraid of now is missing my naps. Ah, life is good – even when it’s not! (plagerism at its finest).

    • Then just think what a charmed life you’ve led … you escaped being afraid and now you get multiple naps every week! I hope I’m planning as well as you and Moma did 🙂 PS. Yes, you should have been scared when the snake bit you. As Jocelyn says, “You you you yourrrrrr no snake charmer!”

  8. Ah, yes…..the power/water treatment plants. I got kind of tense just remembering the one in Spokane that we forced ourselves to get out of the car and take a closer look at. I laughed out loud at the Hee Howww story and then the praying hands!! Awful!!

  9. I completely understand the water treatment plant fear, they look sinister. As for me, one of my more irrational fears are mannequins. You know how sometimes they don’t have heads or it’s just a torso? So naturally, I imagine that they come alive at night and try to steal people’s body parts that they are missing.

  10. I managed to out my irrational fears on the radio one day in 2002, when they were asking for callers to answer this very question. I must have been really bored at my terrible temp job, because it seemed like a great idea to announce on a popular radio station that I was deathly afraid (like nightmares, shaking, don’t even talk about it) of the Snuggle Bear (from the fabric softener commercials. You remember him, right?) and the Arby’s Oven Mitt. Now, I know that 2nd guy wasn’t nationwide (how do all those people live without Ar-B-Que Sauce, I wonder?) but if you’re unfamiliar just imagine a big white talking oven mitt with creepy eyes who pops up while you’re innocently enjoying a delicious roast beef sandwich. For whatever reason, these 2 characters became Chuckie-meets-Jack-the-Ripper scary to me. And somehow, through my own big mouth, I ended up the sound bite of the day, replayed over and over. When I left town 3 months later, I got dozens of oven mitts with glued-on google eyes from my smart-aleck friends. Couldn’t even sleep til my husband took them all out to the dumpster. And closed the lid. (and locked the door.A

    • I’m glad you can’t see how long I’ve sat here trying to come up with a reply 🙂 Hahaha, well … so, once he disposed of them, did the fear subside? We good now? You OK? I hope so because a Chuckie-Jack the Ripper duo sounds dreadful!

  11. My daughter just yelled at me that I’m laughing too loud while she is doing her homework. Anna for the win!

    And um, irrational fear is my middle name. I was terrified at the Hoover Dam. That’s some scary sh*t. I could barely even look at the pictures of people building it. It’s an unnatural amount of concrete, I say.

    I am also with you on saying dumb things to celebrities. Been there, done that…most recently to Andy Cohen. But it made for a good blog story. Let’s just say I actually used the word “representin'”

    I’m going out to eat tonight, and now I’m afraid I’m going to get a doggy vag. Thanks a lot. I’ll just add it to my list of irrational fears.

  12. I’m terrified of icebergs. Not that they’ll rip a hole in the side of my boat, but just the bigness of them and the iciness of them. I’m terrified that someone will kidnap me and take me on a cruise to Alaska, where I will have to face my irrational fear of oversize ice. Gah!!

  13. You really had me laughing through the whole post! You’ll be happy to know that I am in a panic about snow melting in Sochi also! I also can’t drive over train tracks because I am convinced I WILL get hit by a train. 🙂

  14. As soon as I saw Bob Costas’ face, I started laughing. I’m always too intimidated to comment on your blog…all the commenters are so funny and my usual comment would be “OMG yes so funny!” or something boring like that. My irrational fears include kayaks and (I can barely type this) alligators/crocodiles. I can’t even get into the “why” because they are so awful.

    • Not sure why this made me LOL, but it did! At first I thought you could barely type kayak, which tickled me 🙂 Oh and just saying “OMG yes so funny!” is always more than enough because I always love hearing from you 🙂

  15. The autocorrects had me in tears. I am afraid of my own neck, which in the last year has developed a large crease down the middle. Also of accidentally texting my own clients, which I have done. I sent a client, instead of my husband, an invoice of some plumbing work I’d had done. And I also accidentally texted a client instead of my own son, with the message, “Get over here and see your relatives. Don’t tell me you don’t have time”.

    • So, so, so funny. I know we’ve ALL done it; I’m just so nervous about a BAD one … from autocorrect to just sending the wrong person something. Terrifying. I hope it’s always the semi-cringe kind (like a plumbing invoice!) and nothing that makes me want to off myself 🙂

  16. I laughed so hard at those auto corrects that I cried and my 3 year old thought I was really crying so I had to explain what it means to laugh so hard that you cry. The only way I could think of to explain it to her was to tickle her and guess what happened? She peed her pants which is what I was most afraid of as a kid because my older brother did that to me all the time!

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