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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Be Afraid… Be Very, Very, VERY Afraid!

So, I’m afraid of a lot of weird things.

I blame my mother for this. Now, I love her and all, but that woman is afraid of everything. Needles, flying, mice — you name it. You want to really freak her out? Strap syringes onto a bunch of mice and drop them on her from an airplane.

(Okay, so that would freak pretty much anyone out, come to think of it. But you know what I’m saying. Work with me, here. Don’t fight it.)

Now, I don’t share my mother’s phobias, for the most part. I’ve either rejected or overcome just about every fear that I’ve heard her confess. Mice? They’re cute; no fear. Heights? Went skydiving — now I’m over it. Menopause? Um… yeah, okay, so we share at least one fear.

(Hey, I’m married now — you think I’m looking forward to her hormone levels jumping and zipping around like a toddler on rock candy? No, thanks, man. I’m seriously considering ‘his and hers’ morphine drips for a few years to get us through the whole nasty mess.

And hey, maybe that’ll save me from having a mid-life crisis and buying a crazy sports car when I start losing my hair, too. I tell you, folks, this is a plan.)

So, anyway — let’s just say that I’ve gotten over a lot of bizarre phobias. Of course, for every one that I conquer, two or three more slither in to take its place. I’m doing my best, but my brain is hard-wired to worry, and I’m losing the battle. I couldn’t possibly make it through the whole list of things that keep me up at night, but I thought that a selected few might help you understand the screaming willies that I’m always just that close to having. One man’s bundle of nightmares is everyone else’s evening entertainment, right?

(Seriously, isn’t that how ER and 24 got started?)

In any case, here are a few things that I worry about on a daily basis, submitted for your snorting pleasure. I’ve even given each a name, to help us talk clearly about each. (Or to help you describe my various forms of dementia to the men in the white coats when the time comes. It’s all good.) Anyway, you enjoy these. Now that I’m thinking about them all at once, I’m gonna go hide under the covers. Let me know when it’s safe to come out.

Toepinchyphobia — This is the moment of anxiety that I have every morning, just as I’m about to slip my feet into my loafers, and I ask myself, ‘I wonder whether some big nasty bug crawled into one of my shoes during the night, and is in there now, waiting to latch onto my big toe when I dangle it in there?

Now, understand, people — I live in New England. It’s not as though I have to worry about giant desert scorpions, or tarantulas, or even big pinchy beetles being in there.

(Well, unless my wife is really pissed at me, and has been going through the ‘Exotic Animals of the World’ mail order catalog again. But I bought her lots of flowers last year, after finding an anaconda in the shower with me. Or should I say, *ahem*another anaconda… um, no. No, I shouldn’t. Never mind.)

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that my little piggies are in very little real danger from anything that’s likely to sneak into my sneakers. Still, even squishing down on a bug would be pretty icky, whether it managed to fight back or not. So, I’m always very careful about slipping on my shoes.

What’s more, all of this paranoid worrying comes screaming back to me — sometimes (embarrassingly) literally so — when I feel something stuck in my shoe later in the day. Sure, it occurs to me that I might just have a piece of gravel, or some dirt, or a small child, in there… but in my mind, it’s far more likely to be a big spider, or a cockroach, or a pack of fire ants. So I’m compelled to fling my shoe off, willy-nilly, just in case there’s some creepy bug getting ready to feast on my footsie. Not among my proudest moments, let me tell you. And I lose a lot of shoes that way, as they go flying through windows, or into crowds, or at my boss.

(Um, accidentally, of course. Of course.)

All of which makes this one of my more expensive phobias.

Franticurinatophobia — This is a relatively new fear that I have, and it’s limited to the men’s rest room at one of the offices I work in. It all has to do with the way the room is set up.

See, there’s a shower stall in the bathroom, just to the right of the door. The back wall of the stall faces the door, creating a ‘tunnel’ for about four or five feet as you walk in the door. Just past the shower stall, along the wall to the right, is the urinal. In other words, you’ve got to walk along the back of the concrete shower stall, then take a hard right turn around a blind corner to get to the pisser.

So, of course, there are two really bad things that could happen here. Or, more correctly, one really bad thing and one really, really bad thing.

The lesser of two evils, of course, is that I’ll run in there one day, bladder full-to-bursting with water or Pepsi or last night’s brewskis, desperately needing to relieve myself. And I’ll burst in the door, unzipping as I go, and careen around the corner, already aiming for the bowl… and someone will be there, already occupying the space. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to stop myself, and I’ll make it to the stall — hopefully empty — at the far side of the room, without any ‘spillage’. If I’m only moderately lucky, I’ll manage not to wee all over the guy’s back, but I may not be able to say the same for the walls, sinks, floor, and ceiling between the urinal and the stall. On the other hand, if I’m unlucky that day, then I won’t catch myself in time, and I’ll soak some poor dude’s ass with pee.

(Hey, once the floodgates are open, they’re damned hard to stop, people. You guys know what I’m talking about.)

Now, I’ve never been in that situation myself, but I’ve got to imagine that it’s hard to come back from accidentally pissing on somebody’s butt. I’m not sure that Hallmark makes an ‘Oh, how I wish I hadn’t whizzed on your heinie‘ card, or that there’s any kind of present that’ll make up for that sort of, um, indiscretion. I’d probably have to quit my job, right there, and quite possibly move out of the Boston area, lest I risk running into the guy ever again. I might have to move to Montana or Utah somewhere, and live out the rest of my days in an isolated Unabomber shack, just to be sure. What could you possibly say to someone after that?

And all of that falls under the ‘lesser’ of two evils. The greater evil, obviously, is to be the person at the stall when the… unpleasantness occurs, and having a very unlucky — and very desperately full — person come in behind you. If the embarrassment and shame of being the ‘pisser’ is more or less complete and unforgettable, then the sheer creepy horror of being the ‘pissee’ is no less intense. Think about it. Your ass would never feel clean again. Is it any wonder that I don’t sleep well at night?

Nasofolliculophobia — I’ve stared, transfixed and powerless to look away, at plenty of people’s dangly nose hairs. Far more than I’d care to count, in fact. So I know, in my heart of hearts, that if my nostril locks were to be caught protruding from my proboscis, I wouldn’t be alone. It happens all the time. Such things are tolerated, if not downright overlooked.

However. If you’ve ever been caught, as I have, like a deer in headlights, gazing at someone else’s nasty nose fuzz, then you know that you’d never want to subject someone else to that ungodly sight. Which means, if you’re again like me, that every itch and tickle — any sensation at all, really — in the vicinity of your nose throws you into a panic of doubt about your nostrillary appearance. Is there a hair showing? Or worse, several? Could there be a whole thicket of the things poking out to say hello and wave at passersby? Is there a nose hair jailbreak going on that I don’t know about?

All of these questions and more run through my head, leading me to do the only thing I think may ease my mind — I assign my fingers to perform ‘perimeter checks’, as discreetly as possible, to see whether there’s anything poking out of my nose. I don’t venture up the nostrils, but I do rub along the holes as best I can, hoping to find any rogue follicles in need of trimming. Or wose yet, pulling. Youch!

Of course, all that checking just wiggles everything around a little more, and the itching and tickling continues, and so I have to check again. And again, and again, each time making certain that the last bit of action didn’t *sproing* loose a hair into the open. It’s a vicious circle, and the only way out is to find a mirror, do a no-touch visual check, and hope that the thing doesn’t itch any more. But the alternative is to be ‘that guy’, walking around with jungle foliage sprouting out of my nose, and I’m not going there. And if it takes an irrational, obsessive fear to make sure it doesn’t happen, then so be it. I’ll take (another) one for the team, so you don’t have to look at that shit.

So, there you have it — just a small taste of the things that keep me awake at night. Hopefully, if nothing else, this has helped to show you how reasonable and well-adjusted you are, by comparison. And if not — if you share these same ridiculous fears, or (*gasp!*) have even worse phobias — then… well, you’ve got even more to worry about now. You’re as screwed up as I am, or even screweder.

And if that doesn’t cause you to worry, then I don’t know what the hell will. Mercy.

Permalink  |  9 Comments

9 Responses to “Be Afraid… Be Very, Very, VERY Afraid!”

  1. Shelby says:

    I hear you on the phobias! I have a totally irrational fear of sharks, despite the fact that I’m seriously unlikely to ever found myself foundering in shark-infested waters. It’s so bad I have to change the channel when advertisements for “shark week” come up. My other phobia is Coulrophobia–fear of clowns. Go figure.

  2. Lara says:

    I’m with Shelby! Clowns are CREEPY! I’m quite sure they’re all up to some evilness too.

  3. chasmyn says:

    I have the nosehair phobia, but not of having them myself – they just REALLY creep me out. And how can you not stare, seriously? I mean, do these people never bother with a mirror or what? It’s disgusting. And ear hair, too. But nose hair is way worse. Ugh. (shudder)

    Oh yeah, and why not just shake your shoes out before slipping your toes into them?

  4. tj says:

    i have that phobia where you’re afraid of running through the house backwards … and naked … and running into a door handle covered with peanut butter.

    keeps me up at nights.

  5. The Hearn says:

    I spend vast amounts of time everyday yanking at my nose hairs. Frequently, there’s not even a hair sticking out, and I find myself yanking on internal skin. And you thought getting bit on the big toe by a spider was painful!

  6. Iggy says:

    Dude, you are hillarious. I’m in stitches! I haven’t even read the entire posting yet because ROTFLMAO is not socially acceptable behavior in an office environment! I’ll have to come back later to see how it ends.



  7. GrumpyBunny says:

    ROTFLMAO – you are one paranoid guy!

    I’m with you on the stuff in the shoes/slippers. I’ve stopped wearing my slippers – threw them out. Too scary.

    I also apply that fear to my gloves – gardening or driving. A friend told me about a guy he knew that went to put on his gloves and felt a pinch. Pulled his hand out and looked inside, didn’t see anything. Put it back in and out twice more – bitten 3x by a black widow…yeah, I know. I’m only justifying your fear.

    So now I throw my gloves on the ground and dance around on top of them to crush anything in them! Looks a little funny, but I feel SO much better putting them on.

    Clowns – sad clowns – freak me out.

  8. be says:

    DUNCHA be afraid!!

  9. loon says:


    if i ever find one of those hallmark cards i’ll let you know. not that i’ll ever need one mind you…

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