Irrational Fears (and rational ones too)

Lemon Shark ©Willy Volk on Flickr

My friend Travis of The Fisher of Stories is talking about some of his fears. You should go check out his post. Have a look around while you’re there, and say ‘hi!’ from me. His fears seem to be rational and have a basis in reality.

Mine, however, are mostly not.


I’m irrationally afraid of sharks suddenly appearing in swimming pools which I happen to be occupying. I know, I know. This is entirely impossible. Whatever. I still swim myopically (I’ll get around to buying prescription goggles one day) in the deep end of the pool, where it’s cold and the water is a much darker shade of blue, feeling my stomach knot.  One eye is always warily on the skimmer box. Everyone knows sharks will materialise out of the skimmer box and swim straight at you while you’re in the deep end. My heart quickens its pace, and I find myself panting, readying for a rapid swim… or possibly a run on water to land.

When I was about 10 or 12, my much older cousin thought it would be hilarious to play on this fear. He was an excellent swimmer, and would lurk at the bottom of the deep end of the pool, holding his breath, waiting for me to swim over. Then he’d dart up and grab my legs and drag me towards the skimmer box, dah-dumming the Jaws theme song, as I screamed, flailed frantically, and gulped stomach-fulls of chlorinated water. I still intend to exact payback for that, after all, revenge is a dish best served cold (though I may be more MegaMind than MetroMan, since my evil schemes rarely work out).

I’m also terrified of pressure cookers. Don’t try to sell me on the “much safer modern ones” or the “totally safe electric ones”, like my friend Lakshmi did. It won’t work. In my defence, that fear is based on childhood terror of them exploding, as they did in the 1970s when I was a child. Anyone who grew up with a Indian parents in the 70s and 80s will be able to tell the same story of flinching every time they hear the shrill hiss of steam escaping under the weights at the top of the pressure cooker’s lid.

And car washes. I’m afraid of those automated car washes that you drive your car into. You know the ones. With the big soapy brushes, where you have to turn your car off, and sit sweltering inside it until the green light flashes at you. Then there’s a mad scramble to turn the engine on, strap your seatbelt across and inch slowly forward, as the bozo behind you impatiently scoots forward before you’ve even had a chance to vacate the place. Yeah. Them.

I still wash my car by hand, rather than take it through one of those things, though I will concede to sitting in the car if someone else is driving through the car wash. I think that’s progress.

What are your fears?

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