Last year I introduced you to my most feared . . . fears. Well, one of them. Clowns. In the course of researching this fear, I learned that there is pretty much a phobia for everything. Exploring the fear of clowns made me feel sort of normal as I realized it was not uncommon. A brotherhood/sisterhood united in our fear of clowns that was made more significant by the fact that clowns seemed to be making the news all over the country last year. Although as I look back on it, maybe it wasn't really making the news so much and what I experienced was a heightened awareness as I exposed myself for the coward that I am - afraid of clowns and ... well, that other thing.
It was that other thing that crawled across the conference room table during a very productive meeting at work and sent me scrambling for the door. Not screaming, thank God. Not like the time an eight-legged demon from Hell dropped down on its web while I was talking to a co-worker years ago. Perfectly suspended at eye level directly between us. It turns out it wasn't my scream that startled my co-worker into an even more terrified scream. It was, he said, the look on my face. Yeah, my fear of clowns is exceeded only by my fear of spiders.
As the much more composed version of myself increased the distance between me and the uninvited guest, the more fortunate who do not suffer from arachnophobia performed a quick extermination and life for the rest of us resumed. Albeit with the customary flawed assumption that size matters when it comes to spiders and the playful banter that follows. I am here to tell you size does not matter. Eight legs, I'm out. End of story.
Whether it was chivalry or team-building or simply an opportunity to lighten the air, I am not sure. But my coworker took this opportunity share a fear of his own. Yes folks, I am talking about achondroplasiaphobia. The fear of little people. Once we clarified what he meant by little people (children are not on is list), we bantered about the political correctness of the colloquialism. If little people is not politically correct, then dwarf and midget must be downright offensive. How about aspect-ratio challenged individuals?
Since I had experience googling "fear ofs" from last season's clown post, I quickly located the above-referenced clinical term. Safe in the confirmation that he is not alone, my coworker shared a recent event where he was confronted with his fear. While getting ice cream for his kids at a local shop, he heard somebody speaking to him from behind. He turned around, an ice cream cone in each hand, to find himself face-to-face with . . . nothing. Dropping his gaze to the source, he also dropped both cones and nearly fell backwards with a manly scream in startled response.
We laughed - hard. We compared phobias and enjoyed a light-hearted moment that while none of our phobias would qualify for disability, there was a slight chance for a prescription in certain states. Honestly, it was the best meeting I have ever attended. I am not sure what problems we solved on behalf of our employer that day, but I found a kindred spirit in one helluva nice guy and he gave me permission to share the story.
Halloween - horror movies - haunted houses - spooky stories. We love them because these experiences allow us to vicariously face our fears, experience the intense emotions and adrenaline rush knowing it isn't real. And never, ever having a real-life spider or little-person rob you of your dignity or your ice cream.
*** By the way, I could not spell arachnophobia and this interface wouldn't do it for me. I had to google it knowing FULL well there would be images. But I did it anyway, for you. Because I love you. You're welcome.