Writer’s Workshop: Scared To Death

Last week, I talked about a recent acquisition for my Lien Chemical Company ephemera collection, and talked about why I’m collecting items from that company (i.e. I was scared to death when I was a kid at the sight of their logo, which was practically ubiquitous at one time, leading to some very uncomfortable moments when we were out). I’m sure many of you found that strange, and you’d probably be right. I had a few irrational fears like that: Besides Lien, there were fire drills, water heaters in the bathroom, Emergency Broadcast System tests, and a few others that I’ve probably blocked out because they were so terrifying.

I think we all are scared of something that seems irrational, and that no amount of explaining can get people to understand. To some, those fears can seem funny. One day I was someplace where The Maury Povich Show was on the TV, and he was having one of his shows where he talks to people who have irrational fears, like being frightened by aluminum foil, balloons, cotton, mustard, and flowers. I know that he means well, because he has a psychologist on the show who offers to help these people confront their fears, and I think he tries to approach the topic with compassion and empathy. It bothers me, though, that there are members of his audience who find this hilarious. I wonder how many people write for tickets and specifically ask for tickets to "one of those shows with the weirdos that are scared of goofy shit." Or how many people record those shows so they can sit at home and laugh their asses off.

All fear is irrational, to a certain extent. Admittedly, some fears are harder to explain than others, like being scared of logos in the bathroom or rubber bands, but they’re very real to the people who are scared by them. It’s part of being human.

24 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Scared To Death

  1. I remember those types of shows too. It was my first time realizing that people could really be afraid of anything. I remember the tin foil one and just be like…you know I kind of get it. Tin foil is a little bit terrifying if you think about it. I wonder what the catalyst was for some of those fears. What was the trigger? I don’t think I have a strange fear exactly…just the usual death, public speaking and heights.

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    1. Exactly! Most of the time, it isn’t the thing itself: it’s the traumatic memory associated with it. It might have come so early that the person can’t even remember.

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    1. At least you’re in good company with those. They seem to be pretty common. They’re also pretty easy to avoid, unless you travel by air a lot, arrange kids’ parties, or have a friend with a pet boa constrictor.

      I’m not scared so much by clowns as I have a negative view of them, thanks to John Gacy…

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  2. Heights get me even on a ladder… but I can fly in a plane and I’m fine once in the air…I just don’t like taking off or landing… Snakes I’m deathly afraid of…and I live in the country around rattle snakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouths.

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    1. I have a little trouble with heights, but don’t get up that far that I have to worry about it. Snakes scare me, especially the venomous ones. Fortunately, I’m nowhere near them…

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  3. I’m with you on the Emergency Broadcast System alerts – the civil defense/tornado/air raid sirens in particular are terrifying to me. I don’t know if I have any true phobias, but there is plenty that frightens and/or creeps me out.

    Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re having a wonderful one!

    <a href=”https://stormsandstardust.net’>Kim

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    1. Thanks! We did!

      The current Emergency Alert System (since 1997) isn’t quite as disturbing as the EBS was, because its focus has changed from “nuclear attack” to a host of still serious but more likely emergencies (weather warnings and AMBER alerts). Doesn’t make it any less startling which, when you think about it, is kind of the whole idea: get your attention. Not much consolation when you’re awakened at 3 AM with noisy duck calls because you fell asleep with the TV on and the station decides to test the EAS.

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  4. I have a fear of heights and closed places, but I wouldn’t call those irrational fears–I mean, there does seem to be some substance to those fears. Offhand, I can’t think of anything that I’d call an irrational fear. There were matters of personal preference and certain things that gave me the creeps, but fears I’m not sure at the moment.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  5. Heights…..sounds typical but I am so scared that when I am on top of something and the phobia has taken over people I love who try to console me, have faces that look all distorted like looking at your picture in one of the old fashioned kettles. I am a total kook and once, when my mom and I were in Salzburg, we walked up the tower to the viewing platform. I got so scared I placed my self up against the wall and started to hyperventilate and cry. My mom was trying to calm me and said we wil go down but I saw her face all distorted and thought she was making me look over the edge so I started to slap her and go scream. She finally grabbed my hand s and said she was bringing me down. I was shaking for half a day afterwards. To this day, I feel so bad for treating my mom like this.

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    1. How old were you at the time? Heights aren’t bad when I have a building around me. The Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago has these windows where you can actually walk out and be surrounded by nothing but glass. I can’t imagine wanting to do that.

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      1. I was 16 at the time but this phobia has stayed with me to this day. In fact, there is a picture of me on top of a wood pile, not high at all, standing with my brother. I was about a year old and you can see I was crying” my mom had no idea why I was crying but consoled me afterwards

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        1. It’s understandable. I had friends that would get on fire escapes and climb to the roofs of buildings, and there was no way I was willing to do that. I do not like fire escapes…

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  6. I was, and continue to be terrified of clowns and dentists. over time I’ve learned to live it the world with them, but they still scare me

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  7. The place I lived as a kid, we had a lamp-post outside the house. In my nightmares, this lamp-post took on a persona, it had a malevolent face, it grew feet, and used to chase me down the street! How about that for irrational?

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    1. The subconscious mind does funny things and is purely irrational. Of course, then you wake up and see the lamppost outside your room, and it all comes back. Unless George Formby is leaning on it…

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          1. Just looking at his dates, he died quite a while before I was even born. I guess I must remember him from the b/w films made around the war years, which I must have seen on tv as a boy. I used to confuse him with Norman Wisdom, another English comic/actor who also did many films. But I found both irritating. While Formby died early, we only lost Wisdom a few years ago, he was a ripe old age. He had dementia towards the end, they made a documentary and we saw himtrying to entertain the other residents in the nursing home. Just looked really sad, craving that audience affection even at that stage.

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