Everyone has a least one thing in life that makes him or her uneasy, perhaps even phobic. I’ve got several: snakes, spiders, heights, confined (especially overcrowded) spaces, and PTA moms. I know what you’re thinking – confined spaces? That’s weird.
Most psychologists will try to tell you phobias are irrational, but I challenge that theory. I don’t think there is anything irrational about mine. I have thoughtfully weighed the pros and cons about each and every one of my phobias and have rationally decided it is beneficial to my well being to avoid all of the items on my list. And here’s why….
Snakes: I don’t trust anything that hasn’t got enough common sense to grow himself some legs. One word, Mr. Snake – evolution. Also, snakes have pointy teeth that they seem to enjoy using quite a bit. So given my options, I’d rather not suffer the slow, painful death associated with a venomous snakebite. And since I don’t have a degree in herpetology, I can’t tell the difference between the ones that can kill me and the ones that can’t. Best to assume they all can, this way there’s no embarrassing mix-ups. And let’s not forget about the nasty buggers who are big enough to crush you to death and swallow you whole….
Or the ones capable of unhinging their jaws – you’ve heard of the jaws of life, right? Well meet the jaws of death….
Spiders: Anyone who fell in love with the literate little arachnid in the book Charlotte’s Web will try to convince you that spiders are beneficial to the environment because they keep the bug population under control (and save innocent pigs from the slaughter house). Don’t fall for it. Spiders are sneaky, blood sucking parasites…. and let’s face it, really really creepy. I mean, eight eyes and legs?! Greedy bastards probably stole the legs the snake was supposed to get. Total evolution overkill for a creature usually no bigger than a quarter. And the one’s who are bigger than a quarter are just plain wrong. Kind of like this hairy fellow:
If you want an accurate portrayal of spiders, toss Charlotte’s Web and rent the movie Arachnophobia. In the movie, poisonous spiders take over an entire town and kill off the residents one by one. If you ask me, that’s a hell of a lot more likely than having a spider who can read. I think the only reason it hasn’t happened in real life is because spiders seem to like to work alone. But if the day ever comes when they decide to cast aside their selfish, solitary ways and organize a giant spider mob, we’re all fucked.
Confined/ Overcrowed spaces: I’m not a total lunatic who won’t ride elevators or go see the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center during the crazy holiday rush. I just like my space. My comfort zone is most comfortable when I have enough space around me to hold my arms out to my sides without hitting a wall or a warm body. If I don’t have that space, I may start to flail my arms around frantically in the hopes of creating that space. If a few people have to get hurt during the construction of my comfort zone, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. And along with space, I also need air – lots and lots of air. Preferably fresh and non-circulated. I don’t want to breath in the same air I just exhaled, and I definitely don’t want to breathe in the same air you just exhaled. It’s nothing personal.
Heights: I guess it’s not so much a fear of heights as it is a fear of falling to my death from high places. I can cope with heights as long as there is NO possibility of falling. I can go to the top of the Empire State building and enjoy the view because there are guardrails and fences that serve as protection against my own clumsiness. How many times during the course of a day do you trip or stumble over something? Two? Three? Well without a barrier of some kind, if you’re high up in the air and you accidentally trip once, you die. And since I’m not the most graceful thing walking around on two feet, it makes perfect sense to keep as low to the ground as possible.
PTA Moms: I can sense the defenses of all you PTA moms going up – allow me to explain before you break out the pitchforks and torches. I’m not talking about the women who pay their dues and belong to the PTA. I’m a card-carrying member myself. The PTA is a wonderful organization responsible for a whole slew of enriching school programs, and they deserve our support.
My phobia centers around the women who run the PTA. I see their faces at every school function – baking, organizing, coordinating, selling, and any other action verb they can get their busy little hands on. They are the class moms, the PTA presidents, and the soccer coaches. And in the spare 30 seconds they have every night, they knit mittens for poor children in third-world countries. What’s not to love, right? Wrong.
These women are possibly the most dangerous item on my phobia list because they appear totally harmless – just look at her….
Happy? Obviously. Perky? You betcha! To the untrained eye, there are no visible signs to warn you against the possible threat of attack (except maybe the fact that her dress matches her drapes) – but don’t be fooled! She’s deadly – but she doesn’t kill you physically, she kills you emotionally.
Within five minutes of a PTA mom ensnaring me into conversation, I feel as desiccated as a spider’s dinner. And while I’m trying to salvage my will to live and locate the nearest exit, she is filling me in on the names, ages, extra-curricular activities, allergies, and academic achievements of all her children (even the ones not advertised on the back of her minivan). After she’s done, I know more about her kids than I ever knew about my own. And I’m also made painfully aware of the fact that from the moment my first-born child came into the world, I’ve done everything wrong. Everything.
But as badly as I may feel when she’s done with me, I know there are people out there who are worse off – her children. Because I know for them, there is no escape. They probably haven’t known an unscheduled or unsupervised moment since the womb…. except when they take time out to sleep, use the bathroom, or nurse their bleeding ulcers. You can usually spot these kids from a mile away – they are the ones looking nervously over their shoulder to see if anyone is watching them. And just so you know kiddies… mommy is always watching.
I have come to embrace my phobias, and trust them as my first line of defense. Much like the innate ‘fight or flight’ response all living things are born with, a phobia is triggered when we sense something harmful in our environment. It doesn’t matter if it’s an anaconda or the PTA president that sends a cold chill of fear up your back – pay attention. Your brain is trying to tell you to RUN AWAY, and you should listen. Unless of course it’s telling you to run away from something completely benign, like cotton balls. If that’s the case, then the only place you should run to is a psychiatrist’s office. But if counseling fails, you can always join up with this facebook group and meet other weirdos like you….