Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I Avoid Barbed Wire

I took the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale and scored a 14.  That puts me in the upper-range of the mild category.  That's what I would've guessed.  I'm neurotic and have plenty of quirks but don't allow anything to impede my quality of life.  I've mentioned a few rituals before.  I avoid the number 13, take steps to make sure doors are locked, wash my hands excessively.  Nothing serious.  I don't rationalize my behaviors.  I enjoy the irrational.  That's why I write horror stories.  A recent Goodreads review criticized Crow Creek for being too far-fetched.  I completely agree.  That's what I was going for.  The implausible entertains me.  If I wanted realism, I'd write instruction manuals.

I have a few phobias.  They're hilarious.  They're part of my OCD.  Most are common.  You've probably guessed by the reference to hand-washing that I'm a germophobe.  I think the clinical term is mysophobia.  Either way, I'm not sure the diagnosis is accurate.  The fear is of being sick, not of the germs themselves.  Whatever that's called.  I'm not sure when the phobia started.  Probably as I became more aware of my own mortality.  When did that happen?  13 years-old?  Yes, I met death in 1982.  She's not pretty.  She lives in a tiny gray box.  But I've never been a sickly person.  Maybe I have hand-washing to thank for that.  Not sure.  If only they made a hand lotion that didn't leave you feeling so greasy.  I wash my hands, use hand lotion, and then use Germ-X to dry the lotion.  Seems like an extra step.  I know there are products that combine lotion and Germ-X, but they don't keep my hands from bleeding.  Either way, this phobia should explain why I avoid human contact.

I dread thunderstorms.  The lightning, that is.  I find thunder soothing because the sound lets me know that I didn't get hit.  I remember watching a storm outside my bedroom window when I was a child growing up in Brooklyn.  The rain poured in gray sheets.  Lightning cracked.  I saw the bolt hit the pavement.  I don't think I ever recovered.  The sheer power frightens me.  I've seen lightning strike three or four times on subsequent occasions.  It even hit in our yard once and killed the root systems of most of our trees.  I wonder what it's like to be struck.  Or at least I wish I could get hit once and get it over with.  Is that why some people play the lottery?  When my wife and I started dating, she discovered me cowering in a windowless hallway during a violent storm.  She still married me.

I'll keep the next one short: I loathe flying insects.  I've described bees and wasps as lightning bolts of the bug world.  Spiders don't bother me.  I can run from them.  Or stay out of their webs.  I've been chased by a horse fly.  I screamed and tripped going in the back door.  The beast flew in after me.  I covered my head with a pillow and let my wife kill it; I'm not proud.  This fear probably dates back to when I was a child playing stick ball in the street and a wasp bit my tongue.  Maybe I shouldn't have had my mouth wide open.  Or have been yelling at my big brother.

You might be surprised to learn that I get freaked out walking beside barbed-wire fences.  Or chain-link fences, if sharp metal ends poke through at the top.  I always feel like the tiny barbs are going to pluck out my eyeballs.  There was a ball field in Phoenix that I walked through on my way home from high school.  It had barbed wire fences (or dangerous eye-threatening chain-link fences).  That's probably where the phobia started.  I even get freaked out driving beside them.  And I never drive with my windows down.

I fear being eaten alive.  That's not entirely accurate.  Of being swallowed whole.  Yes, that's better.  I think it's called phagophobia.  I would do fine being killed by a pack of wild dogs or getting torn to pieces by hungry lions.  The idea of going down prostrate in a whale's mouth or being consumed by an anaconda scares the shit out of me.  The fear probably comes from Jaws.  I hate when Captain Quint gets eaten by the shark.  I just hate it.  Fucking great white.

Of course, I have other fears, but things like cancer and car wrecks don't belong on this list.  They're not phobias.  Phobias are unfounded.  Even germophobia - anyone with half a brain knows that exposure helps you build up immunity; that's why we have vaccines for Christ's sake!  Phobias are silly.  Peculiar.  But I need them in my life, like I need a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs several times a week.  They complete me.

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