There are many kinds of fear. From the mild apprehension that you forgot something important to the horrible dread that grips your colon when you realize you just backed over a Hell’s Angel’s motorcycle; the chilly shiver that runs down your spine when your significant other says, “There’s something I need to tell you,” to the inexplicable panic of an unreasonable phobia – spiders, small spaces, heights.
I’ve always enjoyed hiding around corners and yelling BOO at people…even though most of them don’t seem to.
One can fear anything and apparently we do. Whatever scares you, there’s a name for it. Seriously. Go check http://www.phobialist.com and see for yourself. There are names for the fear of otters, lakes, string, sitting down, penises, litigation, bees, cooking, small things (penises again?), clouds, wet dreams, heaven, bald people, love, thinking, sleeping…the list goes on and on.
There was no entry for fear of Taiwanese food, so the legions of sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated. Although, it occurs that fear of Taiwanese food is not really a phobia, but rather perfectly reasonable. I digress.
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia – the longest of the phobias – is a fear of long words. No kidding. Psychological nomenclature comes complete with a sense of humour, no dissembly required.
I suspect it was named by the same son of a bitch who put an “S” in the word lisp, thus rendering the statement, “I have a lithp,” humourously tautological.
Fear of lisping, by the way, is psellismophobia (or pthellithmophobia, if you inthitht).
You can learn alot just from reading the list:
Automatonophobia – fear of anything that falsly represents a sentient being. If you have this, you cannot be a teacher in Taiwan.
Hydrophobophobia – Fear of rabies. Personally, I fear getting stuck in the middle of that word – call it hydrophobophobophobibobibobibobia.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees, and the forest is fear.
Fear is a hardwired response. You don’t decide to be frightened – it isn’t a choice. Adrenaline floods the system, preparing you for fight or flight. The cues that provoke it are many, particular phobias notwithstanding.
We’ve all experienced that odd, uncomfortable feeling walking along a dark street. Time was, walking in the dark was a dangerous thing to do because an animal might eat you. Times haven’t changed all that much, just the predators.
Fear is also thrilling. Some folks are addicted to it. Amusement park thrill rides, parachutes, bungee jumps. The adrenaline rush is intense, and it is a fear response.
No matter how confident you are in the guy who packed your chute, leaping out of a perfectly good airplane is an act your brain can only respond to with, “HOLY FUCK!”
Roller coasters work on the same principle. You know the coaster will make the corner, but your brain insists, just for a moment and half beneath your conscious radar, that you’re about to die, and fear of death is a biggie. It encompasses both the fear of the unknown and the fear of ceasing to be; the uncertainty of what follows and the certainty of our own finite time.
Mull that over.
Which brings us to Halloween. Originally a pagan ritual marking the harvest, it has come to be associated with witches, goblins, ghosts and the supernatural – a celebration of death not unlike the Mexican Dia de los Meurtos. At a bare minimum, it’s jovial whistling past the graveyard.
For the kids, it’s an opportunity to dress up in costume and score far more candy than they could possibly eat in one sitting, best efforts notwithstanding. For older kids, it’s an excuse to dress up in costume and drink your face off.
After all, Halloween only comes once a year…which makes it just like every other day, but how often do you get to drink in COSTUME?
Halloween only really has two downsides. One is that you’re going to hear Monster Mash and Thriller over and over again, the other is the sheer incidence of geeks who finally have opportunity to trot out their perfect re-enactment of the “Burn the Witch” scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.
That’s why I switch to 151 Rum for the occassion. They start shouting, “Burn her…burn the witch,” so I do.
That always shuts ’em up.
Now all you panphobic trick-or-treaters fuck off. I’m busy.