Friday, March 28, 2008

Irrationally Frightened

I was trying to think of times when I've been scared for no good reason. I'm not talking about normal frights, like the time I was running home from a friend's house late at night, heard something rushing at me, and both the cat and I jumped about five feet in the air and ran in opposite directions. That's normal fright. But what about those times when you're scared stiff and you don't know why? This cries out for a top 5 list.

1. Coming Home

This is the memory that triggered this post. I was looking at a picture of Luke and Max when they were newborns, and I thought about their final check-up in the hospital. The boys seemed so fragile and mysterious. It seemed like they were fighting for every breath, and eating was a do-or-die proposition. I remember being shocked when the doctor looked them over and said, "Luke and Max are doing fine. I'll see them again in ten days." Ten days! What was she talking about? Those frail little creatures should be seen by a doctor every few hours! When we all loaded up in the car and drove home on Christmas Eve, I was scared silly. I felt like the Robert Redford character in The Candidate when he gets elected even though he's wildly inexperienced, and he turns to his campaign manager and says, "What do we do now?"

2. Interview with the Damned

This next one is kind of odd, because the memory was scary even though the actual event wasn't. When I was a missionary, my companion and I went to visit a young man who'd stopped going to church. He was deeply troubled. Haunted, even. I can't remember what he said, but I do remember his look of hopeless anguish. It makes sense that after 25 years, I don't remember where in Peru that happened. What's odd is that I'd forgotten where that happened soon afterwards. The interview took on a dream-like quality in my mind, as if I were remembering some nightmare. One of the strongest memories of my mission was also the foggiest. It stuck with me.

3. Innertube water polo

Now this is getting really irrational. There was (and probably still is) an intramural sport at BYU called innertube water polo. Everything about it seems dorky. First off, it's co-ed. Each team played three girls and three guys. For another thing, everyone has to splash around in innertubes and try to score goals. Goofy, right? It got competitive. Fiercely competitive. It got so that I had a difficult time sleeping the night before big games. I had no trouble sleeping before playing in real water polo games against the likes of Arizona State and Air Force Academy, so why would I be frightened the night before innertube water polo games? The consolation I have for this odd fear is that the leader of Ghetto Magic -- an intramural sports juggernaut at BYU that regularly won 4A championships in multiple sports -- said innertube water polo was by far his favorite sport. Go figure.

Ha! It's a top 3 list. See? That's the advantage of having a non-fascist blog. I can write a top 3 list and no one complains!


  1. yer two shy bucko.

    thats unamerrikan!

  2. Maybe this isn't so irrational:

    I bought some snowshoes this year and went for a hike up in the foothills near my house after dark and alone. I got up a mile or so and heard some noise in the brush and as my mind inventoried all of the things it could be, it stuck on mountain lion. It was probably just some shifting snow or a small rodent, but my mind kept coming back to "a mountain lion is stalking me and will pounce any moment". I stubbornly continued on my intended course, but my nervousness was increasing and I was always turning around scanning the area with my headlamp. I was glad when I hit the turn around point and started going down and out of the brushy stuff and into the clearings. The city lights were always to be seen so it's not like I was in some wilderness. Still, I just couldn't push the very unlikely mountain lion thought out of my head.

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  4. Kris, that was probably just a bear:,2933,283834,00.html

  5. I once heard of someone who was afraid of hummingbirds.

    I know that you weren't talking about phobias, but I'm just saying...

    Kris, that was the chupecabra, not a mt lion or bear.


  6. Top 3? What a rip. Your old site was way better.

  7. Thanks, guys - so relieved it wasn't a mountain lion.

  8. OK, I do have a more irrational fear: I don't like needles. This fear was ingrained as a child. From dentists - remember those big, chrome syringes with the thumb loop the dentists used to use? And also from doctors - shots in the arm, shots in the but, drawing blood. And it wasn't like I was some accident prone kid, just the usual accidents, illnesses and dental issues. As an adult I challenged myself to make peace with needles. I did pretty good, I even gave blood a few times. But I've regressed and now I get very nervous when I need a shot. I have to turn away most times I see a shot on TV or in a movie. When that needle dimples the skin then pokes in ... {shudder} It's irrational because I get hurt mountain biking with some regularity and even operate on myself (sliver removal, hang nails, cleaning wounds, etc.) and the pain is no big deal. But a needle just gives me the willies.