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.
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.
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?:
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.
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:
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.