Silly, Irrational Fears


When I was in college, I had this roommate named Janet. She had a sort of fearlessness about her that I always admired — she’d kill all the spiders in our apartment; she’d investigate strange sounds outside; she’d confront our landlord who always seemed to be pulling some kind of crazy didn’t-you-borrow-my-vacuum-cleaner scheme.

But there was one thing Janet was terrified of: She hated those “pop” containers that pressurized dough comes in. She would call one of us roommates from all the way in another room to come open them for her.

She hated the ones that required a spoon to press against the seam, but she especially hated the ones that would just “pop” as you undid the paper.  Because — even though she could kill a spider like nobody’s business — she couldn’t stand the unpredictability of … croissant rolls, I guess. I thought it was hilarious. But I peeled them all the time for her. Because it was one thing I wasn’t afraid of.

I suppose we all have strange, inexplicable fears, and it’s an especially beautiful thing when you’re paired up with someone who can handle yours. Janet killed my spiders and I opened her jumbo biscuits. I had a roommate before her who was terrified of birds, so we always ate inside at the cafeteria. Superman hates clowns, so, needless to say, my children have never been to a circus.

What are your irrational fears? Or the seemingly silly things that can make your heart start pounding at an unpredictable pace? Here are my top five:

  • Any kind of strange knocking or whirling sound coming from my car
  • Rest-stop bathrooms with those concrete walls and weird, metallic sinks
  • Any kind of strange sound coming from downstairs when we’re sleeping (I guess that’s normal, but I’ll lay there and let my heart race rather than go investigate.)
  • Dentists and doctors
  • Spiders

What about you?

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13 thoughts on “Silly, Irrational Fears

  1. Ok yes I do fear clowns. There it feels so good to finally admit. I want no therapy, though, for it as I believe it is a healthy fear. You know like the fear of walking down a dark alley at midnight, the fear of walking thru the woods wearing fake antlers, the fear getting in a huge tin canister filled with jet fuel and the fear of mushrooms, to name but just a few…Sometimes fear serves a purpose. Clowns are evil and it is good to steer clear of evil.
    Don’t fret though as I all man; I kill every spider in our house now for my wife and daughter.

  2. HAHAHA. Your old roommate and I have lots in common…I hate that. I cringe when I have to open them and try to get anyone nearby to open those dang biscuits. It is totally the unpredictability of it all. Like waiting for a balloon to pop in your face.

    Irrational fears…got lots of those but the one I cannot explain at all is buttons. Everyone who sews always has a jar full of buttons and watching people plunge their hands in their gives me the heeby jeebies like crazy. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Do you know there are whole web sites dedicated to buttons? Yikes.

  3. Well, Mizwrite, you had me thinking about my fears all day yesterday. By this morning, most of my fears seemed to borderline on obsessive compulsive disorder – ha!ha! So here are my top five:

    1. Escalators – that I’m going to get
    sucked into the cracks – I know it makes
    no sense…
    2. Parking lots and crossing the street –
    that me or somebody I love is going to
    get hit by a car.
    3. Rodents
    4. Shots – hate them!!! Would rather be
    sick than get a shot. OUCH!!
    5. That a critter/animal of some sort is
    going to come up out of the toilet and
    bite my bottom.

    Yes – number five is probably the most irrational of all!! And, one that I don’t think I’ve told many people about 🙂

    I have to admit I do get jumpy when I open the biscuits, too. But, I love clowns!!

  4. Hi, Kat!!! I’ve missed you! Where’ve you been? You came back with a very cool comment, because “buttons” is definitely one I’ve never heard before!! That’s interesting. Is it sort of a germs-combined-with-rocking-chair-creepiness, or what? That’s an excellent one.

    And M. — More interesting answers! Someone on Twitter mentioned escalators, too. (I’ll post her comment here to share.) And your others are all understandable — my sis-in-law is terrified of shots, too. The toilet thing could DEFINITELY give you the heebie-jeebies. That plays in a bit to my roadside, concrete-sided restrooms, too! (rodents? spiders? who knows what the heck’s in there???)

    Great answers!

  5. On Twitter, I received:

    – “Escaltors” from @loriwildrick. She said “Terrified I’ll face-plant down them. If the kids insist I have to carefully wait until I have a full stair. It’s silly.”

    – “Exorcist heads” from @nanna95. She said “Like from the movie. I know, I know. Weird.”

  6. Well, since you outed me and my very legitimate fears on Facebook, I decided to come defend my not so good name.

    So, first off, yes I am afraid of alligators. A couple years ago a friend of mine sent me a photo of a 20 foot gator that was found in a Texas river not far from Dallas. So, the fact that I have to open my garage door from inside my house so that any alligators in my garage can leave safely hardly seems strange to me. As for snakes, you show me someone that isn’t afraid of snakes and I will show you someone that is tipping the weird scale in the wrong direction. Spiders are a new fear because I had the total lack of sense to change the channel when Animal Planet had a show on about the venomous buggers a couple days ago. Since you never hear about spiders raising money for charity, doing humanitarian work or winning Super Bowls and all the stories you do hear are about how they are constantly trying to kill people, it’s perfectly natural for me to be afraid of spiders because eventually they will come after me.

    Here’s one I’ve never revealed before: I am afraid of house cats. They stare at me like they are trying to do the Jedi mind trick on me. I don’t know what they want, I don’t know what they are up to, but I know it can’t be good. The way they are always trying to sharpen their claws, the way they are always honing their reflexes, the way they practice stalking… I just don’t trust cats. There, I said it. Somebody had to.

  7. I used to live in Long Beach and they get these huge garden spiders. One year they were so prolific it wasn’t unusual to find multiple spiders in their webs one next to the other, under eaves and in the bushes. One even made use of the space between my windshield and the car. But the kicker was the one that actually made a web in the middle of my front yard. That means it attached it to my roof, the tree next to the street and the ground. The web was so that the spider was over my head when sitting in the middle of the web. That same year one crawled inside my home. When I realized it was there, I literally felt nauseous. I called my husband (at work in Orange County) and was freaking out on the phone. I knew he couldn’t do anything, but just hearing his voice made me feel better!

    The others are salt water crocs and sharks. When Jaws came out I was scared to swim in the pool by myself, even though I knew no shark could get in, and every once in a while that fear still visits.

  8. Dave,
    Have you ever told Denise about this? How the heck do you stay in their house with all 5 of their cats? LOL

    I am afraid of not knowing. I ask so many questions about everything and if i don’t get straight answers i panic and can’t stop wondering. This is weird. Really, really weird. When I went to a seminar about a month ago, they taught me how to deal with this. But 3 days after i realized how relaxed i had been for the course of the seminar (3 days) that i, again, freaked out.

    I’m totally normal though. I swear 🙂


  9. I second the shark phobia. Not quite sure when it came on because Jaws didn’t scare me when I was younger. I even remember playing the tune on the piano. But now if I hear the theme song I freak out.

    Similarly, swimming at night, even in a lit pool, scares me. It is just too quiet.

    June bugs. I heard a story once about a June bug flying into someone’s ear and I was done for. Plus all that buzzing and the fact that they can burrow into the carpet is just creepy.

    I don’t like lying on my bed with my arms away from my body. I used to have images of hands coming out of the bed and tickling my armpits or holding me down. Apparently they can’t do that if your arms are by your side. This has gotten better as I grow older, but even in high school it scared me.

    Collar bones. Just thinking about my collar bone existing or especially someone touching it, gives me the heeby jeebies. Moving on quickly.

    Mirrors in the dark. This one is possibly a hold over from the Bloody Mary phenomenon of elementary school, but I was always convinced my reflection could wander around by itself when I couldn’t see it.

    Walking over grates in the street or sidewalk. I don’t like to see through something that I’m walking on top of. Clear glass/plastic doesn’t bother me, though, so I guess it is partly the grid element as well. Ironically I’m not afraid of heights.

    I better stop because I can go on and on. Not everyone needs to know how crazy I am.

  10. Oh my gosh, your comments — all of you — are making me laugh today!

    Davy-aka Bubbylicious — You’re so funny. And you’re right — I’ve never heard of spiders raising money for charity. … Good points. Thanks for making me laugh all the way through your answer.

    Jeanne — aaaaaaaaahhhh. Those HUGE spiders? Gah. … ‘Nough said. … I’m with ya’, sister.

    Geraldine — That’s an interesting comment about being afraid of “not knowing.” I can totally understand that. Does it change as you get older and/or master things?

    Janelle — Your answer made me laugh, too! Well told! I loved the collar bones one — interesting. (I love collar bones!) Do they look fragile to you, maybe? And the grates — yes, I can completely understand that one. Have you been to NYC with all those grates? (‘Cause of the subway, I guess.) Egads. …

  11. OMG!!! I am not alone! The POP of the biscuits is soooo scary. The kids know that it is their job to make biscuits for dinner, even though they love it when mom screams while making biscuits.
    Should we start a support group? 🙂

  12. Everyone is making me laugh too! I love the pop of the biscuits, in fact my daughter is always trying to beat me to open them!
    I can relate to a lot of the other fears though, walking over grates, making sure you are on a full step on the escalator…I am not afraid of those, just cautious. I have always had the standard fear of walking alone in the dark, stairwells in parking garages,sharks getting your feet at the beach (after Jaws came out), the Bloody Mary mirror thing got me as a kid, someone breaking in while I’m sleeping… I started having other fears after my kids were born though. I have a very hard time with tunnels, bridges and airplanes now. When I was pregnant the earthquake in Calif. that dropped the bridge on everone has made me hold my breath everytime I drive through a tunnel or over a bridge – I actually can have a panic attack and the underwater bridge driving into New York about killed me, it is sooo long! Airplanes started bugging me after the hawaiian airlines stewardess got sucked out of the hole in the plane in the early 90’s (I was pregnant again). I guess maybe I am really just afraid of something happening and I won’t be able to get to my kids…they may almost all be adults already, but the fears are holding strong! I think it is normal to have some fears, as long as you are still able to leave your house, right…?!

  13. Oh. My. God. ——-> “she couldn’t stand the unpredictability of … croissant rolls”

    I straighten my arm out to get as far away as possible, turn my head, and close my eyes. It is the POP! I seem to thing that something that sounds like THAT is bound to explode in my face.

    The movie IT made me hates clowns. Superman is a wise, wise man.

    I have too many fears to name. I’m a big scaredy cat, I admit it openly. The fear that makes me act the most irrational is roaches. I drive my family up the wall with this. I will climb chairs, kitchen tables, the counter to get away from them. I’ll squirt bug killer, cleaner, perfume from ten feet away and not even care about the mess I’m making just to stay as far away as possible. I squeal, I scream, I yell and if I have to kill it I leave the broom propped over it with a sign taped to it for the men to clean it up when they wake in the morning. Irrational much?

    And I’ve tried to get past it. I’ve sat and watched them purposely and gotten closer but with those antenna things and those creepy feet start moving my insides shake.

    It is completely ridiculous but unavoidable.

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