March 12, 2012


What funny things phobias are! Why do we have them? Where do they come from? And why can't we get rid of them, even when they are highly irrational and ridiculous? I have friends who fear the mere sight of a banana, companions who quiver at the touch of cotton wool and a pal who is convinced that if she crosses a street drain, she will wake up the following day with a cold.
I, myself, suffer from a debilitating phobia of toilets and a mild problem with knives. One of which I know the source of. The other is quite ludicrous.
When it comes to knives, it simply started when a hilarious friend of mine thought it would be amusing to stand behind me with a giant Japanese kitchen knife and wait for me to turn so he could issue me with a pretend killer stare. Unfortunately I was particularly hyperactive that morning and was jumping up and down and turned to run out of the kitchen before stopping abruptly to find myself looking into my friend's eyes, which turned from pretend murderous hatred to fear. I looked down to see a giant blade tip poking into my tummy. One step further people and I would have been spliced to the high heavens. I was initally speechless and this rapidly turned into uncontrollable tears and since then if anyone points a knife at me, I simply cry like a baby. You might wonder when, in fact, a person might actually point a knife at me and you can ask my dear loved one, who occasionally thinks it's funny to do so. Apparently he's trying to eradicate my phobia by confronting it. I personally think it's one of those evil, irresistible urges to expose someone's weakspot that we all sometimes have but he promises me it's not... however, if you ever find my body chopped up in a dumpster, then you know who to point the finger at.

But seriously, I suppose some people just don't understand how irrational phobias really can be... which leads me to the next of my fears... TOILETS.

Yes, my name is Sally R. Gurteen and I am afraid of TOILETS. Now don't go jumping to conclusions that it's a regular, run-of-the-mill germ fear. It actually has complex depth and very little to do with germs or cleanliness.  This phobia takes the fricking biscuit. It's more to do with the ambience of a lavatory.

It's just a 'feeling'.

So I can stroll into one and have a rather relaxing, pleasant pee. I can trot into another and feel a little less relaxed and have to hum to myself to induce happy feelings, in others this hum rises to a discordant sing-song and then I can plod into the doorway of another, take a quick glance, freak the fudge out and run for the hills. People are always baffled when I choose to tell them this. They want to know why and what the motivation is but I simply cannot tell you. Perhaps in a past life I was sucked down the plughole by some ghastly ghoul and gobbled up in the gutters? Why is a very silly question really. If people knew exactly why, surely they could rationalise and dismiss the fear? Why is my friend morbidly afraid of balloons? Why is another friend convinced that if her feet are uncovered in bed at night that a monstrous beast will drag her away? And did the Mr Soft softmint advert in the 90s scare the shit out of anyone else besides me? I shudder just thinking about it now.

Phobias are, and always will be completely out of the ordinary, serving as a reminder that everything in life cannot simply be explained. Contrary to what modern science suggests, it is impossible to be completely rational and measured. The supernatural and the unconscious mind have horizons wider than we will ever be able to fully comprehend. And this is something that we shouldn't forget. For this reason, I am quite thankful for my little tics and eccentricities because they remind me that I am a natural, individual entity.

What are your fears?
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