Fears and phobias, we all have them – and some are more irrational than others. My friends and family have confessed over the years to a myriad of aversions, ranging from the logical to the bizarre and downright ridiculous.
When I was at university, I lived with one friend who had a revulsion to wet bread. She hated the slimy feel, and the thought of it made her feel like she was going to have a panic attack.
One of my colleagues has a real terror of losing her teeth, and admits she worries about falling flat on her face, knocking her pearly whites out in the process. She believes her fear stems from years of wearing braces. One friend made me laugh when she told me about her mum’s fear of using the ceiling fan in her conservatory. Apparently, she is scared to put it on full speed, convinced it will fall and kill someone.
When she was a baby, I recall my youngest sister being frightened to death when she heard church bells. As for my own fears, I have a fair few. While creepy crawlies give many people jitters, the thing that scares me is the thought of a bug crawling into my mouth or up my nose while I’m asleep. Ice-skating also gives me a chill. Mainly the terror of falling and having someone slice over my fingers with the blade of their skate.
Balloons also inflate my inner fears. Not the balloons themselves, but the blowing up of them. It all began when someone told me a tale about a lad they knew who blew up loads of balloons for a party and then suffered a stroke. I don’t know if it was a true story or an urban myth, but it was enough to terrify me into buying a balloon pump for all those children’s parties. However, my true real fears are dogs and putting my head underwater. I only learned to swim after meeting Hubby, as he decided to teach me. While I can now swim – sort of – I like to swim where I know I can stand up if I need to. I also refuse to put my head in the water when I swim, and always have my neck craning out of the water. My biggest fear is definitely dogs.
No matter what shape or size, I’m absolutely petrified of them and have been so far back as I can remember. No matter how much owners assure me, I am never reassured and even cross the road when I see a dog in my path. I don’t really know why I am scared of dogs, although I think I was chased by one when I was little. But after realising how many Asian people I know who are terrified of dogs, I think it stems from growing up in a culture where no one has a dog as a pet and being brought up to feel they are dangerous animals.
My parents grew up in Pakistan, where the only dogs were strays who attacked people and often carried rabies.
My sister and I were discussing why so many Asian people were frightened of dogs. Listening in, my nine-year-old son suddenly piped up: “My mummy’s not really old!” Puzzled what he was talking about, it suddenly dawned on us he had misheard, and thought my sister had said: “Ancient” instead of “Asian”!