Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh my!)

So, as some of you probably know, Adrianna had an infestation of mice this past week. She called me late Monday night (or early morning more accurately), curious as to whether mice could give you rabies. I tried to placate her, telling her she was up on all her shots. She called me out on my fib, correctly claiming that she was not a dog and thus was not routinely administered a rabies shot. I'm happy to tell you that the mice are now dead, and Adrianna does not have rabies. However, even though the situation has been nicely resolved, it triggered a train of thought that is still running through my mind.

Whenever anyone used to ask me what I was afraid of, my answers were always either overly ambiguous (the future), or overly serious and personal (letting people down). I never had anything else to say. I like walking alone at night. I don't particularly relish heights, but they don't scare me, Spiders and snakes don't bother me much at all.

Now I have a more typical answer. Over winter break, I discovered a new fear. Johnny and I happened to be in a shopping mall (I realize it is probably slightly difficult to visualize me voluntarily spending much time in a mall, but if you wouldn't mind suspending your disbelief for a bit, I will make a point). We were not very familiar with this mall and spent some time going from floor to floor, looking for certain stores. This meant riding the escalator up and down several times. I remembered something: Escalators bother me. As a kid, I used to worry that my shoe lace would get caught between the steps, and I'd either get pulled under (resulting in my leg breaking or my foot being mangled) or pulled down the stairs (resulting in my head smashing against the metal and death by severe concussion). I'm not quite as afraid of them now. I don't have any violent reactions to them. I can ride one perfectly fine. Yes, I may carefully place my feet on a step, hold onto the rail, and not move until we reach the top, but it's not crippling. There's no harmful dysfunction involved. Escalators just make me a little wary.

This realization made me wonder what people I know are afraid of. A girl I used to know in school was terrified of the possibility of cutting her Achilles tendon, and consequently always wore boots or high top chucks. Sarah dislikes elevators, Zoe hates aliens, and Christine has a fear of tripping up stairs, falling, and breaking all of her teeth (that would be one fear of a composite situation, not three individual ones). I know Andrew is grossed out by gum, Adri is terrified of opossums, and Richard used to hate swimming because he couldn't see what was lurking deep in the water. But what about now? Is Richard still terrified of riding in airplanes?

I don't know why fears are always considered so negatively. Yes, they can be crippling and restricting, and that is not something to trivialize. But random, quirky fears that aren't debilitating aren't that bad. I find them kind of fascinating. I think they're part of what make people interesting and complex.

So commenting question: What are your current fears? (random, quirky, silly, or serious and personal; everything's game!)

love you guys,



  1. Ruth,
    I had a special escalator video for you, but your siblings say that it isn't a good idea...

    Honestly, most of the phobias I have left are of the overly serious and personal type. I can remember being afraid of offending my shoes as a kid or hurting the 'feelings' of objects I full well knew were inanimate... but I have to admit, it has been a LONG time since I've worried about what my favorite tennis shoes might feel if I abandoned them...

  2. As a kid I was sometimes scared of drowning, but it didn't stop me from swimming in lakes and stuff so I guess it wasn't that big of a deal. I really don't think that I've had many of those kinds of fears. Mine as well have always tended to be the overly serious/personal kind. It's really surprising that I never ended up in the emergency room, considering my lack of self-preservational instincts as a child.