Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is...Well Lots of Things

With fear as my guide how can I know
What it is here that frightens me so
He’s got a grip on my gut with ultimate force
A grip that steers me way off course
I want to scream at him to back away
But his grip on me gets tighter each day
I’ve become a prisoner to this frightening creature
Who has taken my will and become my teacher
But I’m learning nothing
Nothing but more fear

Words from my early twenties when I was in a little darker of a mood. Those words were light compared to some of the other things I jotted down in my lonely, pretentious twenties. But have no fear (hehehe). I’m not about to get deep on ya-all. Fear can be a subject of great depth, no doubt. There are many facets to it. It is the cause of great harm but can also serve a purpose like keeping most people from jumping into Niagra Falls. It’s the subject of endless quotes, anecdotes, books and speeches. But I’m not here to delve into the subject on a great level. Nope. I just want to poke fun of phobias and commiserate with others. Some of which are a real laughing matter. (Well depending on who you ask. My snake-phobic mother would probably not laugh if we hid a rubber snake in her bed. In fact, it might just kill her. So nobody ever do that okay?)

This past weekend we had a 50th birthday party for my brother-in-law. He has a tremendous fear of dolls and clowns. Since it is so much fun to torture someone with a doll/clown fear, my brother bought him a book titled, “Scary Ass Dolls.” Hard to believe he left that book behind when he flew back home. Did my brother really think he’d ever take a peak at that book? Of course not, it was all about the delivery. We could throw the book away for all anyone cared. Spending the money was all about the expression on his face when he opened his gift. (It was not pretty, but it was pretty funny!)

I get it though…I really do. Dolls can be real freaky. And they have their ardent fans and collectors. I will never understand someone who wants to collect something that constantly looks at you with wide botox eyes and keeps an expression of “What me? Of course I didn’t throw little Timmy down the stairs. It must have been Fido.” Huh uh. Never trust a doll. They will turn on you. Holly Hobbie and Raggedy Ann are okay I guess. They are cloth like. It’s those antique-y little cracked porcelained skinned things that make me want to run for the hills.

In the 1968 Roger Vadim movie Barbarella, Jane Fonda takes on an army of dolls who yap and snap their teeth while drawing blood with their bites. I hated that movie. And I’m not particularly afraid of dolls. But that whole scene was a freaking nightmare. They didn’t really move very fast, but much like zombies, their slow moves added to their creepiness. Never mind that the movie was a complete mind fuck anyway. Add a few psycho snapping dolls and you got a total freakfest.

From The Twilight Zone, to Karen Black being chased by the shark-toothed Zuni Fetish doll to Chucky and that damned Poltergeist clown, dolls have had a bad reputation on the small and large screen. And it’s no wonder, they will, (as we’ve seen time and time again,) turn on you in an instant! As a side, if you are afraid of dolls, you are a “pediophobe.”

It’s only natural to move from dolls to clowns.  Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns. It has got to be one of the most common fears. And is it ever a legitimate fear. Let’s face it, if you are making a living by painting your face beyond recognition, you have GOT to be hiding something. I’ve seen Paul Stanley post the Kiss make-up phase. Yikes. He was definitely hiding something there. I sure wish he’d hide it again. That scalpel happy face looks right at home in one of Jim Henson’s movies and it ain’t pretty. At the very least he should apply the star to his right eye again. No worries Paul, with all that botox you have injected, no chance of that star ever falling. Can I say yikes again?

Back to clowns…I know there are some lovely clowns out there. Red Skelton for instance. He was the right kind of clown. He could sing, dance and make you laugh with general silliness. I loved him when I was a child. Never once did I think Red would kidnap me, turn me into mincemeat and eat me for breakfast. I was even okay with Ronald McDonald. Sure he has been poisoning me since I was old enough to chew a French fry, but I can live in denial on that because I love his large sized fountain diet Cokes. How does he do it!? The Hamburglar is way creepier than Ronald anyway. He spoke gibberish and walked a little Nosferatu-ishly. I could really have done without him. However, I do often wonder what happened to him. Ronald seems to be the only McDonald’s character to have survived the 80’s.

So many poor clowns out there just want to make people, especially children laugh. But all they do is make them cry. And wish they’d never asked for that damned balloon animal in the first place. Then John Wayne Gacy came along and took all the dignity the clowns were clinging to, away completely. So. Not. Fair. Poor Bozo. He was a nice clown. His ratings had to suffer after all the bad clown press. Before Gacy, the clown world had Pagliacci to thank for their bad rep. Pagliacci was one of those Italian clowns with the poofy white holiday decoration collar and the cone hat with the ball on the end. Just kidding. I have no idea what the hell Pagliacci looked like. Truth be told, all I really know about Pagliacci is what I saw in the movie The Untouchables and the Seinfeld epidsode with crazy Joe Davola. Sigh. I’m not as worldly as I’d like to be. The only foreign clown I know, I know from an American movie and an American TV show. I think Kim Jong-il is a clown though. Does that count?

Although I can see why some people have doll and clown phobias, I’m not really worried about Raggedy Ann or Bozo. I have a bigger fear of bears. Oh why is that? Probably has to do with the fact that those carnivore fuckers will maul you in a second. Forget about camping while on your period. You’re just asking for trouble.  You may as well make a sign that says, “Hey Smokey, I dare you to try to put out this cigarette. Go on…coward! People = Number 1. Bears = Number 11. Right behind the Hyenas.” Now nothing pisses a bear off more than being told they are lowly compared to a hyena. I can’t say I blame them. Hyenas are nature’s assholes. They are weasels with a little bit of power. I can’t like them. And thanks to The Lion King, I don’t like Whoopi Goldberg or Cheech anymore either.

But bears freak me out. I think they are just amazingly beautiful creatures. But I have had nightmares about them for over 20 years. As much as I loved Grizzly Adams in his day, I just can’t get on board with the bear whispering. Uh newsflash Grizzly, ummm, you may think the bears are your friends but Werner Herzog will tell you differently. (Or he’ll let you hear the audio he did not share with the rest of us in Grizzly Man.) Wild animals will turn on you as quickly as dolls and clowns. I promise. I will keep my camping in New Zealand where I only have to tend with hedgehogs and Kiwi birds. P.S. a fear of bears is called Melissophobia. Don’t ask me where that name came from.

Which brings me to my final phobia of the blog. Ligyrophobia: Fear of loud noises. I can actually condense this fear into a certain type of loud noise. Popping sounds. I hate latex balloons (because they can pop), opening champagne (I have never opened a bottle), those teeny little sperm shaped fireworks that you throw at people’s feet on the 4th of July, and I hate Pillsbury biscuits. I carefully pull the paper back waiting for the damned can to pop but nothing ever happens. It’s like a Jack-in-the-Box. Then I have to start banging it against the kitchen counter never knowing when the thing is going to make the loud pop. I HATE IT! It is a nerve-wracking experience every single time. I just don’t like sudden loud noises. Never been a fireworks fan, never will be. Never been a skeet shooter, never will be. Never been a storm chaser, never will be. Never been the guy who shoots the pop gun to start a Track and Field race, never will be. I like my loud noise planned. I’ve been to a Metallica concert more than twice. I expect and welcome loud noise there. (And I realize just how badly I’ve dated myself.) My point is, at the target range or the racetrack, I am prepared. But don’t be blowing shit into my eardrums…I can’t take it.

See, I told you I wouldn’t get deep. We all have our phobias. Some are very serious and some are comical. My question is, is FDR correct when he says, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?” Hell if I know. What I do know though is that whenever I hear the recording that plays his famous speech, I get the heebie jeebies because it sounds all ancient and spooky-like. See – sometimes fears come in the most innocuous places. Speaking of phobias – anyone know the scientific term for fear of Gary Busey’s teeth?